Audrey Hall

From base layers, boots, and bibs to board expanders, here are our picks for this year’s best in snow tech, gear, and toys

Matt Bean and Kate Wertheimer  – November 22, 2019 | Updated December 12, 2019

Oros Orion Parka

Courtesy of Oros

Down insulation has kept out the chill since the 1600s, if not earlier. The problem is bloat and moisture-resistance. This line of snow gear uses a filler based on NASA’s aerogel called Solarcore to provide warmth retention in a more streamlined package.

Orion Parka, $350 from Oros
   

Carv Digital Ski Coach

Courtesy of Carv

In-boot and in-ear technology to improve your technique with personalized instruction while you ski.

Digital Ski Coach, $279 from Carv
   

Mountain Hardware Ghost Shadow Vest

Courtesy of Mountain Hardware

The Ghost Whisperer puffy is one of our go-to insulating layers, but this “shadow” version amps up the sustainability, featuring a recycled shell, lining, and trim. Fully 55 percent of the innards are post-consumer recycled.

Ghost Shadow Vest, $175 from REI
   

North Face Futurelight A-CAD Jacket

Courtesy of North Face

New high-tech membrane blocks moisture and lets out sweat.

Futurelight A-CAD Jacket, $600 from North Face
   

Vermont Gloves and Liners

Courtesy of Vermont Glove

Most work gloves are made from cowhide, but this pair—made in Vermont—uses goatskin, which keeps a soft touch even after it gets wet. The fingers are double-stitched for durability and an optional wool liner adds warmth.

Gloves, Starting at $85 from Vermont Glove
   

Burton Photon Step-On Bundle

Courtesy of Burton

Gearing up offers the one crack in our conviction that snowboarding is the superior method of making it down the hill. With any other setup, we’re forced to bend and groan to strap on a board while smug skiers look on, adjusting their skin-tight one-piece jumpers. This two-piece combination works on both Burton’s proprietary center-channel boards and other four-bolt setups. To tighten the boots simply twist the Boa dials; to lock into the low-profile bindings you just step, click, and go. It’s a wonder it took this long to develop.

Photon Step On Bundle, $650 from Burton
   

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 25 Backpack

Courtesy of Mountain Hardware

A removable top storage compartment makes for a smart slope carrier.

Scrambler 25 Backpack, $140 from Mountain Hardware
   

Icebreaker Women’s Tabi Tech Pants

Courtesy of Icebreaker

Base layers are the foundation of any successful winter wear. And for our money, one of the original players in the merino wool game remains the strongest: The New Zealand-based Icebreaker. Merino wool is prized for its insulate properties but also the natural stink-resistance of the fibers. In addition to smart foundation pieces that look as good in an après-ski setting as they do on piste, Icebreaker now offers a line of casual and dressier wear including a Japanese collaboration with the design giant Goldwin called Tabi.

Women's Tabi Tech pants, $260 from Icebreaker
   

Danner Women’s Mountain Pass Boot

Courtesy of Danner

This lightweight boot boasts classic styling for fashion meets function underfoot.

Women's Mountain Pass Boot, $360 from Danner
   

Jones Ultra Mind Expander Board

Courtesy of Jones

We’re not really park hounds, leaving rails and ramps for kids with flexible bones. This board is more our speed: Fast, carve-friendly, and all-conditions. It’s a high performance edition of Chris Christenson and Jeremy Jones’ signature surf shape.

Ultra Mind Expander Board, $700 from Jones
   

Diamondback El Oso Tres

Courtesy of Diamondback

Carve through drifts with this two-wheeled front-suspension steed.

El Oso Tres, $2,200 from Diamondback
   

Hyperlite Versa Cross-Body Bag

Courtesy of Hyperlite

We’ve been fans of this fast-and-light brand for a few years, thanks to the minimalist construction of its bags—many of which use durable, waterproof, and slim Dyneema fabric. This new cross-body bag (or fanny pack, if you must) is the ultimate gateway drug. It’s small enough to be able to stow underneath a coat and bib, but capacious enough to be able to fit a phone, keys, even a smaller water bottle.

Versa Cross-Body Bag, $70 from Hyperlite
   

Smith 4D Mag Goggles

Courtesy of Smith

Crisp optics give you more slope to scope.

4D Mag Goggles, $280 from Smith
   

Mystery Ranch Rip Ruck Backpack

Courtesy of Mystery Ranch

Known for military and tactical applications, this line of packs offers easy-open, yet secure closure mechanisms. The Rip Ruck is comfy but spacious, with quick-access ports in the front perfect for phones, chargers, sunglasses, or whatever else you need on the go. Bonus: It sports a protective laptop sleeve for locking down your digital goods.

Rip Ruck Backpack, $130 from Mystery Ranch
   

Flylow Sphynx Women’s Ski Bib

Courtesy of Flylow

Bright colors and crisp tailoring—what more do you need?

Sphynx Women's Ski Bib, $300 from Flylow
   

Vasque Clarion ’88 GTX Boot

Courtesy of Vasque

Hiking boots shouldn’t look like clown shoes. That’s why we’re huge fans of this throwback boot, available for both men and women. Retro style meets modern comfort in a Gore-Tex buffered upper. Underfoot, Vibram compounds help keep the rubber on the road.

Clarion '88 GTX Boot, $160 from Vasque
   

POC Obex Backcountry Spin Helmet

Courtesy of POC

A built-in NFC chip offers medical information in the event of an injury.

Obex Backcountry Spin Helmet, $250 from POC
   

Leatherman Free Series Multi-Tool

Courtesy of Leatherman

We’re huge fans of this Portland, Oregon-made utility tool company, which just launched one of the most significant new product lines in its 36-year history. Called Free, the magnetic open/close mechanism makes it easier than ever to access the toolsets inside.

Free Series Multi-Tool, Starting at $40 from Leatherman