Gear Review: Grins for Winter Gear

Winter gear that’ll make you smile

By Carolyn Price and Diane Rudholm

If these gear reviews were a Bob Ross painting, he’d tell you about happy little Pacific Northwest travelers staying warm and dry, happy little gadgets that add some fun to triathlon training and happy little feet trekking confidently across snow and ice.

That’s a lot of happy little wintry things.

Happy Travelers

Montbell Ultra-Lights

Comfy, warm, functional, fashionable and cotton-ball light. Who doesn’t want all that blended into one just garment? Well, Montbell has pleased the Northwest outdoors enthusiast again with its latest offerings: the Women’s U.L. Travel Down Coat and U.L. Down Pants Women

The 9.8-ounce, three-quarter length coat has features galore. It’s roomy enough for under-layering (although you probably won’t need them!), has a two-way adjustable hood and is filled with cozy goose down under a rip-stop nylon shell. Available in three colors; women’s sizing only. Did we say yet how much we love this coat! $199.

The U.L. Down Pants are a best-seller nationwide. Rightfully so. Designed specifically as a replacement for heavy fleece garments, especially for packing into the backcountry or for chilly evening camping, the pants compress into the size of a 32-ounce water bottle and weigh only 6 ounces (women) and 7.7 ounces (men). Roomy enough for an under-layer, too. Black only. Sizes S-XL Women’s and S-XXL Men’s. $145.

Wander Goods Wander Wraps

If you’ve struggled with wearing rain pants over your regular clothes, the attractive and practical Wander Wrap from Wander Goods could be the solution you’re looking for.

We tried out the classic length Wander Wrap, which falls a couple of inches below the knee. Matched with a rain jacket and boots, the wrap did a fantastic job of keeping the Seattle mist and mud puddles away from our clothes. And, thankfully, the lightweight, waterproof Nylon is extremely easy to wash.

The wrap fits comfortably over jeans, skirts and slacks. It’s easy to snap the wrap on, and we love that we didn’t have to remove boots or struggle to get the wrap off when we got indoors.

Two roomy side pockets and reflective piping add extra utility to this winter staple. Sizes XS–XL Women’s. Available in charcoal gray, crimson red or black. $89.

Happy Feet

ICEtrekker Diamond Grip Foot Traction

If the trail ahead of you is riddled with slippery gravel, ice and snow—no worries. Slip some Diamond Grips from ICEtrekker over your winter boots instead. These sturdy foot traction accessories are basically snow chains for your feet.

Made of tough rubber and dozens of unique six-point Diamond Beads strung on aircraft cables, Diamond Grips will make you want to stomp around on some ice—or at least help you feel comfortable doing so.

We love these for winter adventuring; they’re also a great addition for car emergency kits. $41.95.

FOOTbrake BOOTbrake Shoes

What’s smaller than a breadbox, more waterproof than wool and almost as comfy as your fuzzy slippers? BOOTbrake shoes from FOOTbrake. That’s what.

Fit this cleverly designed, compact footwear into a jacket pocket while you ski, and when your feet need a break at the lodge, take off your boots and put on your BOOTbrakes.

They’re waterproof and skid-proof, so you don’t have to worry about getting your socks wet or slipping in puddles of melting snow in the lodge. Sizes S–L unisex. $35.10.

MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes

The MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes from Cascade Designs are reliable and easy to use.

We like the HyperLink binding system for strapping boots into the snowshoes. The two straps that hold each boot into place feature a ratchet on the buckle that makes tightening or loosening the straps fast—even with thick gloves on.

The traction inside the snowshoes has a strong grip to help keep your boots from sliding around, and they come with Ergo Televator Heel Lifts to make uphill treks more efficient.

Revo Explore snowshoes are available in orange and black (normal gait) or blue and white (narrow gait). Both styles are available in 22- or 25-inch lengths. $199.95.

Kahtoola NanoSpikes Foot Traction

Gain some traction this winter with Kahtoola NanoSpikes. This lightweight traction accessory fits snug over running shoes or hiking boots to increase grip on icy sidewalks, roads or trails.

And, the 10 tungsten carbide spikes on the bottom of each foot will help keep you upright, comfortable and confident.

When you’re not using your NanoSpikes, store them in their complimentary zip-up storage bag. Sizes S-L. Comes with a one-year warrantee. $49.95

Happy Training

Suunto Ambit3 Sport GPS Watch

The Ambit3 Sport wristwatch made by Suunto is a win for triathletes.

The comfortable, waterproof GPS watch comes with a heart-rate belt which lets you easily track your stats while you swim, bike and run.

A digital logbook programmed into the Ambit3 is designed to sync up your workouts with—where you can connect with people who have similar training goals.

It takes 20–30 minutes of online setup to get started using the Ambit3; however, once you get going, it’s a powerful (and fun) tool for tracking progress.

Available in black or sapphire. $450.