Posts Tagged skiwear
You could fill a suitcase with winter footwear that perform different functions. In this day and age of luggage fees, however, this really isn’t a viable option. The Adidas Yunga Felt Boot is both stylish and functional, appearing to be one boot to meet multiple needs. That said, after using the Yunga happily for a few months (accompanied by many a compliment), I worry that in trying to be an all-purpose boot, it manages to fall just a little bit short in several categories.
What the Yunga does well:
The Yunga is unique, which is what first drew me to it. Inspired by Russian soldier boots, it’s covered in warm, Italian felt wool, which gives the boot a muted, semi-old-fashioned look, even with its Adidas logo and stripes. It reminds me of the boiled wool hat I once bought in a New England Shaker village…in a good way. The Yunga certainly doesn’t look dressy, but it doesn’t look entirely sporty either: I wear mine with everything from jeans to ski pants, and always find myself wondering, “Does this go together?” No matter: as I said, the Yunga usually elicits compliments wherever I go.
The Yunga is also surprisingly water-resistant and warm. The boot is lined with more wool on the inside (though not thickly), and though the sides are thin, they’re well-insulated.The toe and heel are capped in rubber, and there’s a TPU mudguard . The midsole has an aluminum board insert to protect against chill, and the outsole features what Adidas calls High Traxion Rubber with a good grip in snow, ice, and slush. The side-zipper makes getting in and out of the Yunga easy.
What the Yunga lacks:
Because the Yunga isn’t quite dressy enough to pair with leggings or a dress, I do find myself needing to pack a second pair for evenings out during winter travel. I also wish the boot went higher up on the calf (it hits me at mid-calf, and I’d love to have it reach below the knee).
While I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how water resistant the felt outer is, it does show dirt, mud, and water stains easily. This is a shame, because the felt wool is very pretty. The good news is that these stains generally dry well. I wore my boots through some sloppy spring snow mixed with mud, didn’t do a thing to clean them, and came back to find them nearly clean. Thank goodness, because I don’t know how I’d clean them easily if I wanted to. The Yunga boots are only 13 ounces, which makes them a good choice for lightweight packing, but they’re pretty bulky; you’ll save on weight but not on space.
Bottom line: I like my Yunga boots, I really do. They’re my go-to boots for commuting to the ski resort, and they’re interesting and good looking and fun while still keeping my feet dry. I only wish I could reach for them in all winter situations.
These boots are brand new at Adidas, and can be found on the Adidas Outdoor site, at Zappos, Sunny Sports, or Amazon in two colors: chalk (a lovely white color) or light onix (recommended to not show dirt). Either will set you back $130 or less.
And if you need something for the kids, check out the Adidas Adisnow boots in sizes up to 7, for under $75.
This new tech base layer comes from Polarmax’s Comp 4 line, which is the warmest of Polarmax‘s three categories. My family and I have been skiing and snowboarding in Polarmax base layers for a few years now, and this company consistently manages to provide three things: affordability, comfort, and warmth. My kids think they’re cozy, I think I can afford to outfit everyone in them without taking out a loan, and no one complains that they’re cold.
What more could you really want from your base layer?
Well, we want style. Used to be, everyone wore the same navy blue or black long johns under their ski gear and called it a day. Now, each piece is a fashion statement. Polarmax already figured this out a few years ago with their tween Coolmax line (which my 11 and 13 year olds love), and now they’ve added a graphic element to their women’s Comp 4 half zip.
This arm and shoulder floral design is somehow both elegant and trendy, and I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on it. At upscale ski resorts, it’s practical to have one layer that can go from snow to apres ski, and the Comp 4 will take you there. Take off outer layers and lounge by the fireplace in this graphic base layer, or even wear it out with a wintery skirt, tights, and boots.
Any ski clothing item that can pull double-duty is getting priority in my bag. I’ve worn the Comp 4 for a day of skiing straight to the pub or ski village, and more importantly, it’s kept me warm on the slopes. It’s washed well, shows no sign of fading, and has not shank in approximately 10 washes.
The Comp 4 is made with heavy weight stretch fabric (this is the thickest layer Polarmax makes). The inside is brushed fleece, making it cozy against the skin, but it still breathes. You get dry moisture wicking and anti-Microbial/anti-Odor protection, so you don’t need to wash it between your ski day and your dinner out. The half-zip is nice because it allows for some extra breathability without sacrificing on style. It’s also nice to zip it all the way up on the mountain.
How does the Comp 4 compare to Polarmax’s other levels of warmth? I’ve tried items in their ‘warm’ and ‘warmer’ categories, and while comfortable and affordable, I won’t be going back. I now switch out between this new Comp 4 and their Comp 4 crew (without zipper). The thing I can’t live without? The brushed fleece lining.
The Comp 4 is made in the USA, and you can pick it up at Polarmax for $59.95. A variety of the women’s crew versions (in all warmth categories) can be found on Amazon, but you’ll want to order direct for the half zip with graphic.
Would you like to do some good somewhere when you buy a winter hat? Get a great travel and outdoors hat from Sherpa Adventure Gear and you’ll be making a difference in one of Asia’s poorest countries—Nepal.
I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of this company recently and he’s got a story that goes far beyond trying to make better outdoor clothing. His uncle, Ang Gyalzen Sherpa, was on the original Everest expedition in 1953. So when Tashi Sherpa moved from a clothing import company to founding his own line, he didn’t just name it after his people. He made clothing for the Sherpas and had it produced in Nepal. So the company gears up the guides and porters, creates manufacturing jobs in a country that many shunned when the political climate got tough, and gives back a portion of profits to under privileged Sherpa children.
Thankfully the products are as good as the story. When I was in Salt Lake City and Park City recently, I split my hat time between a wicking Outdoor Research beanie and this fleece-lined wool Renzig hat from Sherpa that I got as a sample. This one came out on top for pure warmth in the sub-freezing cold, but I also liked how it looked, with real wool instead of some technical fabric. The lining did the trick in feeling soft against my skin and itchiness never came into play. It’s got a little natural stretch to it to fit multiple head sizes and shapes.
Fortunately for Sherpa Adventure Gear, this must have been a strong seller this winter because it’s in “sold out” mode at most online retailers. You may have better luck in the actual stores.
Otherwise, go for one of the other similar styles like the Khunga pictured here. It comes in seven colors and has the same combination of pure lambswool and a Polarfleece lining.
Or if you want something more feminine, the Rani hat pictured at the end here might do the trick. All three of these styles generally retail for under $20 a pop, so you won’t be breaking the bank when you find one you really like.
There are more Nepali-looking ones with tassels that can tie underneath, some that are more urban and less beanie, and others that are solid or retro. See the whole Sherpa hat lineup at their site.
Many Sherpa styles are available at independent retailers, REI stores and at REI.com. Despite the frigid weather out, retailers are already thinking about spring, so buying in February often means buying on sale.
Of course the company makes jackets and pants too: those climbers need more than hats at that altitude. More on that later…
I’ve been experimenting with a lot of winter ski jackets this season, switching out outerwear with each weather change and new climate. While it’s useful to know what type of jacket is optimal for wind, snow, and sleet (and great to have a lot of arrows in your winter wear quiver), it’s more practical to have one go-to jacket that will perform well under all conditions, and excel in most. Is that jacket the Patagonia Rubicon? I think so, but I’ll let you decide.
First off, the Rubicon is the warmest jacket in my closet. And that makes sense, because warmth is kind of the Rubicon’s thing. With a fill-power of 700, the goose down insulation packs a hefty warmth without extra weight. In fact, unlike many thick, warm jackets, the Rubicon is extremely lightweight. So much so that I was initially skeptical that it would indeed keep out the cold. I kept putting layers on under, as I’d need to with my Patagonia Adze jacket (also a winner in its own right) until my persistent sweating convinced me the Rubicon was doing its job. The lightweight factor means I can ski and snowshoe with full movement in my arms and shoulders without feeling constricted.
The nuts and bolts:
As you’d expect from any high-end ski and snowboard jacket these days, the Rubicon sports pit zips for temperature regulation, and the feminine cut does not hamper movement. You get a removable snow skirt that snaps together at the front, but there’s an extra feature I didn’t expect: the loop at the back of the powder skirt connects to any Patagonia snow pants. No more chilly surprise of snow or ice when hopping onto the chair!
You get plenty of pockets, including two hand-warmers and one media pocket located at the chest. This one zippers closed like the others, but also includes cable routing for your iPod. There are also two internal stash pockets to fit goggles, gloves, or snacks.
The helmet-compatible hood is also filled with down, and the jacket zips all the way up past the chin to cover your mouth and nose on cold days. The cuffs at the wrists are adjustable by velcro, and all zippers have nice pulls, easy to manage with thick gloves on.
The outer shell is 100% polyester ripstop coated with water repellent, and the lining with powder skirt are polyester plain weave. As stated above the fill is 700 premium European goose down, and there are micro fleece panels at the neck and chin on the interior to feel comfortable against your skin. All in all, the Rubicon is puffy, but still feminine-looking. And the orange color is fantastically cheerful out on the slopes (see color information below). Here’s a full-body shot to show the overall look of the jacket while ‘in the field’:
How does the Rubicon compare to other jackets?
Before I got my Rubicon, I’d wear my Adidas Terrex Feather Shell in rain and wet conditions, my Adze in wind, and a variety of other jackets in varying degrees of cold. Now, the Rubicon can cover all these bases, with the exception of extreme sleet or rain: the Terrex still reigns in the waterproof category. The Rubicon is water resistant, but you’ll need a back-up when the precipitation really comes down.
For $399, it’s not too much to ask a jacket to perform well in several categories and across many mountains, and the Rubicon will do that for you. Pick one up in bright Turmeric Orange, rich Balsamic, black, or brown directly at Patagonia, or check for it on Zappos for less. You can also check Altrec. (There’s a more expensive men’s version—see it here.)
I’ve sung the praises of Hi-tec jackets on this gear blog before because while they look good and perform well, they’re priced half or less what many competing jackets are with the same features. This Napier Ridge Parka really surprised me though in how warm it is, keeping me toasty on a windy ski lift at 15F degrees.
This parka is one of those 2-in-1 jackets and if you pay close attention to the buying details at the end, I’ll tell you how you can get it for even less than it’s $249 combo price by buying the two pieces separately right now. The outer shell is like your typical waterproof breathable shell using the likes of Gore-tex, OutDry, Polartec, or eVent. But as with Colombia’s Omni-dry, Hi-tec uses its own proprietary Dri-Tec system, saving them some licensing fees. I can’t promise you their nanotech surface solution comes out on top of those name brand membranes in lab tests, but this is the third jacket of theirs I’ve tried now and all have performed as well in my real-world uses as any other. This Napier Ridge one was no exception: it kept me dry when it snowed or drizzled, but I didn’t get sweaty then clammy when I went out snowshoeing one day around Park City, Utah.
The photo here is from the slopes of The Canyons ski resort at 15F degrees and that’s where the inside section went to work. The zip-in interior is an Alpine Start Parka with 550 fill down insulation. Under a waterproof layer, that kicks in a lot of warmth. So with just an Icebreaker merino wool baselayer and this two-part jacket, I was quite comfortable skiing The Canyons and Park City Resort, while people I was skiing with were whining about how cold they were. If you’re going to face sub-freezing temperatures, this won’t be the slimmest option around, but it might be the warmest.
Of course if the temperature rises and the sun comes out, you can strip off the shell and stick it in a locker. The Alpine Start down part can be worn as a jacket on its own. So if you’re going traveling, this combo enables you to take three jackets along for different conditions, while only carrying one.
As far as features go, it has a zip-off and Velcro hood with elastic cinch straps, two seam-sealed waterproof outer pockets for gadgets, inside pockets on both the down jacket and shell, and cinch straps at the bottom of both jackets. If you get too hot, there are pit zips on the shell.
Overall, this is a terrific two-in-one jacket for cold weather activities and the flexibility on the two parts means you can take this and this alone on a winter vacation trip and be set for multiple conditions, from rain to blizzard to mild. With a list price of $249, it’s a bargain compared to most name brand, well-made jackets of this type. You can get it for even less though if you buy at close-out time, which happens to be right now. On the Hi-tec site, the combo parka is available in black at list price, but you can get the Napier Ridge Shell in several colors on sale for $70 and pick up the down Alpine Start jacket that zips in for another $90 to $130 at Amazon or Buy.com depending on color.