Well, as winter just wound to a close, I thought I’d post a short note about winter outdoor gear. All in all, what’s the best outdoor hiking and backpacking gear I bought this winter? What piece of gear really rocked my world? A $40.00 pair of Sierra Designs Down Booties! These things rock! Kept my feet warm and happy during the coldest of days – not quite 50 below zero! I was really impressed with them. Sierra Designs make some good gear, but these are the best buy of the season. Comfortable, light, durable, cheaply priced and stylish! Other candidates for good buys or just good winter gear were:
* My Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap. I don’t even know if this is still made – I’ve had mine for over 10 years, and it’s still good as new. It now officially counts as my oldest piece of 1st-tier gear. My North Face Firefox sleeping bag, which is no longer made, is just as old, but I don’t use it most of the time, after buying the Western Mountaineering Ultralite 18 months ago. Regarding the cap, I have the Triple Point Fabric version and they also have a Gore-Tex version. This hat is awesome, fleece-lined, and toasty! And it looks cool as well!
* A surprise contender, for me, is the REI fleece gloves I have .. they’re fingerless, but with a little extra fold-over mitten .. these are great, I can fold the mitten cover back, exposing my fingers for operating a camera, and quickly cover them back up as it gets cold. Unless it got REALLY cold, these gloves we re just fine this winter. Well-priced, and warmer than I thought they might be.
* Atlas 1030 Snowshoes. Excellent shoes for getting around in the powdery snow in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, good traction cleats, lightweight rugged construction, and easy to fix buckles. Great snowshoes for just about any snowshoeing trip, though not cheap either.
If you’re looking for something to spend your tax refund on, you won’t go wrong with any of the above gear, and it’s probably all marked down for end of season sales.