When is the best time to buy winter gear? In the spring of course when the winter sales are at their finest. Stocking up with awesome winter gear will mean that you have something to look for when the fall rolls around and have we got some really awesome stuff for you!
As you know, our gear reviews aren’t sponsored; we do get a lot of gear and, quite frankly, we test the hell out of it. This year was no exception and we took our gear to Finland where it was subjected to everything from reindeer safaris to dog sledding. Here are the bits and bobs that crack the nod.
Athleta Embodiment Tights (Editor’s Pick)
I’m really not kidding when I say that these are the best damn tights I have ever had. Not only are they toasty as hell, they were supremely comfy and the controlled top is really slimming. They have a ton of flat seams which contour to your body and the ‘unstinkable’ fabric wicks moisture so you don’t sweat. They are lightweight, so you don’t feel bulky with a number of layers on and they are super stretchy. They suck in all the wobbly bits and give you a sleek contour – I absolutely love these.
If, like me, you are not a fan of the hiking boot, then the Layna is for you! Hiking in these waterproof puppies is like having cherubs gently hug your feet. I am prone to blisters and most shoes take a while to wear in, but I put these on and spent two days walking; my ‘backup’ shoes didn’t even see the light of day.
The reason for their comfort is the aptly named LUVSEAT™ PU footbed and a shank-supported EVA midsole which make the Lyna so heavenly. Since my initial hike, I have used these for running too (great in the snow) and just being a tourist about town.
Chacos Azula Mid Waterproof Boot
These water-resistant babies are like walking on air, even if you’re actually hiking over slippery jagged rocks. We put Chaco’s Azula hiking shoes to the test in two climates: Finland’s arctic and Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Coast. For both, the hiking shoes kept our feet warm on hikes in cool and wet environments (including snow!), and for walking around urban Helsinki. We also tested these boots on a rather harrowing hiking trail along Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher. The results? The boots have excellent traction for rugged terrain, which helps you stay upright in slippery conditions (and not fall to your death over a cliff). They’re also incredibly water resistant: I stepped in several huge puddles and my feet stayed dry during the hike. Plus, the boots look pretty dang fashionable with the outer suede skin. One tip: these boots fit quite snuggly, so don’t hesitate to go up a half size to give your footsies a bit more space.
Fjällräven’s Keb Trousers
These babies ROCK. They are really great at keeping the snow out and the warm in. They make a great outer skin for cold outdoor expeditions replete with ventilation so you can prevent sweating. They are designed for outdoor trekking and climbing, so they allow for maximum movement.
They aren’t here to warm you, so don’t skimp on the under-layers, the Kebs are masterfully crafted and if you love attention to detail and exceptional quality; then you’ll love these!
Sizes differ from North American sizes, so make sure you measure up and follow the comprehensive sizing chart.
Patagonia Men’s Capilene Base Layer
Our initial joy at the ‘unstinkable’ fabric soon turned, shall we say, sour? I think under reasonable circumstances it probably works pretty well, but non-stop outdoor exertion coupled with a few ‘no-shower’ days are going to render any undershirt stinky. We did find it breathed well and wicked moisture effectively and it sure is toasty. Makes a comfortable base layer; flat seams and super soft fabric means it doesn’t chaff. As base layers go, this is still our first choice.
Our only piece of advice? If you are going to get dirty, perhaps don’t opt for the white one!
Toad & Company’s Profundo Pullover
Layer it, run in it, sleep in it. This comfy jumper won our hearts for best in travel clothing. Made with a blend of organic cotton and Tencel®, the fabric is loose, soft as kittens, and – believe it – bio-degradable. A slouchy neckline works fabulously as a hood and warms your ears when a flight starts to feel like an icebox. Big points for Toad & Company for using sustainable materials.
One piece of advice: don’t put this baby in the dryer. The fabric is very delicate and will start to fluff off if you don’t let it air dry.
FIG Clothing’s Vancouver Sweater
We can’t wear this sweater outside without getting compliments from random strangers. It’s just so damn smart looking! FIG’s Vancouver Sweater is also incredibly thick and warm, but stretchy enough to be comfortable on the road. The V-collar fits snuggly around the neck (but without inducing strangulation) and the drawstring that hugs the hips. We’ve worn this piece all over the world, and constantly get asked, “Where did you get that sweater?” Apparently, everyone agrees that it’s a coveted classic: the company is actually sold out of this number, and won’t be in stock until August. By the way, FIG Clothing is 100% manufactured in Canada, scoring big points on the ethical scale.
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