No matter how much technology appears in the latest ski or snowboard equipment, when it comes to carving down a snow-covered mountain, cold temperatures are essential. Sure, gear and clothing have come a long way to combat Mother Nature’s polar fury in the last few decades, and suffering through wicked winter weather is a rite of passage for many ambitious riders. But some days you just wish your hand warmers kept you a little, well, warmer. Well, OnTheSnow has put together the best gear to keep you warm on the slopes this season . . .
Losing core heat is the fastest way to send you packing off the mountain after a couple of frigid chairlift rides, but thanks to some hi-tech heat from Columbia Sportswear, cold weather is no longer the excuse. Don’t be fooled by this jacket’s name—there’s nothing soft about the Circuit Breaker Soft Shell. This souped-up soft shell has all the features of a mid-winter jacket: a breathable and waterproof membrane, detachable hood, powder skirt and even Columbia’s unique Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining. But the real power of this jacket comes from stealth lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that slip into two small chest pockets. These suckers carry enough juice to keep your torso and back toasty for six hour on the low setting (three on the high) in even the gnarliest winter weather. It may not outlast the resort’s 9-4 operating hours, but it’s perfect between runs.
Whether you defend the love for gloves or stand up for mittens, there is no argument that warm, dry hands are the ultimate goal. The Hestra Heater glove is waterproof and breathable to keep cold moisture from clamming up your hands, but even a bombproof membrane can’t keep downright cold temperatures from affecting your dexterity. Heated coils are wrapped around the Heater’s fingers and come with three settings to let you dial in the right temperature for your hardworking digits. Hestra’s user-friendly control panel on the top of the gloves changes between heat modes at the click of a button, letting you control how much you want to amp up the heat factor.
White-out conditions because of a freak powder storm: yes. White-out conditions because of foggy goggles: no. Okay, so the Smith Phenom Turbo Fan goggles may not generate any heat (your head already does enough of that), but having a small, battery-operated fan to keep your specs fog-free is a pretty magical gadget. The Phenom Turbo Fan goggles have a two-speed fan that sits above the frame and sucks hot air away from the lens, keeping your line of sight sharp. And yes, Smith is talking to you, with the glasses. The Turbo Fan Series are ODS2 and eyeglass compatible.
There’s no stopping for a down day when you’ve got powder to slash or vertical to accumulate — which probably means your boots and gloves are vying for prime space in front of the condo’s small fireplace at the end of the day. Yes — a pair of warm boots is a small pleasure to enjoy the next morning, but realizing you have wet AND cold boots because the heat didn’t reach inside the boot . . . well, that’s not cool. Instead, give fire a run for its money and invest in DryGuy’s TurboDry portable boot drier. The AC/DC adaptor plugs into any wall or car charger, so your feet will thank you no matter where you’ve taken them. Plus, the TurboDry’s natural convection technology helps eliminate funky boot smells — something we could all do without.
Less of a jacket and more of a zippered midlayer, Quiksilver’s Cypher Heated Jacket uses ceramic coils in lieu of metal, but the earthen wires work just as hard, if not harder. With two temperature settings to choose from, the Cypher Heated Jacket adds up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit of core warmth for two to three hours on its high setting (which is perhaps why Quiksilver recommends wearing a baselayer underneath the jacket). Granted, you might not want to simmer in your own micro-climate for that long, but the burst of heat rejuvenates your blood and helps get your circulation going while you’re hanging out on the chairlift or at the lodge.
Aprés ski may be a time to melt the ice pellets from your hair, but kicking back isn’t much fun when you’re sippin’ on that whiskey in a pair of cold, wet socks. Cabela’s Battery Heated Boot Socks are powered up by D-cell batteries (not included), making them more ideal for casual aprés-wear than actual ski socks. The socks emit a low and steady stream of heat under the toes — it’s not a powerful heat source, but a touch of warmth does wonders.