Best Gear Fall/Winter 2012-13

Best Gear Fall/Winter 2012-13

Little Bluesmiths is on to something big: The small, Maui-based brand is the first to develop a water shirt with Schoeller NanoSphere, a groundbreaking—and supremely breathable—fabric technology that repels water exceptionally well and, when it does get soaked, dries with lightning speed. The perfect companion for a crisp fall day on the water, The Kanaha Paddle Shirt will help you stay dry (and therefore warm) without making you sweat.

A whole lotta tech went into this sleek Columbia softshell. The Triteca has Columbia’s signature wicking and thermoregulation technologies (Omni-Wick EVAP, Omni-Heat) plus a new work of wizardry, Omni-Wind Block. Meaning? It will kick your sweat out without letting the wind in.

Easy on the up, one hell of a driver coming down—that’s essentially the premise of the Dynafit Vulcan alpine touring boot. Weighing a respectable 1,590 grams, it combines the lightness and walkability of Dynafit’s elite ski mountaineering boot, the TLT 5, with the all-mountain powers of a freerider. For the big-mountain skier who actually likes to climb to the best lines. Available before Thanksgiving.

You could take three bags, or just this one. The cavernous, 6,200-cubic-inch interior of Eagle Creek’s Gear Warrior Wheeled Duffel 36 will stow even your bulkiest winter stuff—and without swallowing your socks. Its handy Equipment Keeper strap holds bigger things (helmet, parka) to the top of the bag so you don’t have to hunt for the smaller necessities. More features we like: Separate laundry chute pocket on the front, exterior compression wings that can hold poles and a lifetime warranty.

Proof that a good solar charger really can come in a portable package, Goal Zero’s new Sherpa 50 Power Pack is much smaller and lighter than the previous model (it now weighs less than a pound) and easier to use (you can charge your laptop directly from the new pack, for example). No wonder it took home a 2012 Innovation Award from the Consumer Electronics Show. Available mid- to late fall.

If you were to peel back the rip-stop face of the Helly Hansen H2 Flow Jacket, you’d find a fine layer of fleece punched full of holes. A mistake? Hardly. The holes act as mini storage units for your body heat, trapping warmth and keeping it close to your skin. Feeling hot? Unzip the vents and—whoosh!—out goes the warmth. Think of it as a mid-layer with a thermostat.

Mammut's new RIDE Airbag R.A.S. (removable airbag system) isn't just an safety device—it's a convenience. Unlike most avalanche pack setups, the 150-liter balloon in this one only displaces about two liters of volume, leaving you the space you need for a comfortable backcountry load. Convenience #2: The entire system can be removed and transferred into a larger or smaller compatible pack (choose from 11 sizes).
$680 for 22-liter pack with balloon
$700 for 30-liter pack with balloon
Air cylinder, $175

The new Zodiac shades from Native Eyewear rock polarized, high-tech lenses that not only protect against UV rays but also reduce infrared light (up to 40 percent) and block most blue light. Translation: Your eyes won’t get tired before your legs do.
From $129

First New Balance gave us the 110, its wildly popular barefoot trail runner. Now comes the Winter 110: Same minimalist feel, new winter-proof package (note the water-resistant gaitors and waterproof softshell upper). Running in sleet never felt so good. Available Nov. 1.

The Petzl NAO headlamp doesn’t just shine where you look. It knows. Knows if you’re looking far down the trail or right down at your untied bootlace—and adjusts the brightness and pattern of its beam accordingly. Brilliant.

If you’ve been holding out on the barefoot trend, here’s a smart way to get your feet wet: The Puma Faas 350 S, featherweight training shoe (8.6 oz men’s, 7.2 oz women’s) and recipient of Competitor's "Best Value" award and Runner's World's “Best Debut” award. Its minimalist design offers just enough support for mild pronators without making you lose touch with the road.

One of the biggest innovations of 2012 is water-resistant down—and Sierra Designs is leading the way with its DriDown feather, which stays dry 10 times longer than untreated down and dries 33 percent faster. The Gnar Lite DriDown Jacket doubles as an outer layer for brisk fall days and a cozy, insulating mid-layer for when winter blows in.

Yes, it’s over-the-top techy and ridiculously expensive—but we still want it and so will you. Smith Optics worked with Recon Instruments to incorporate a small viewing screen into the bottom right corner of the GPS-enabled I/O Recon Goggle that can display your performance stats (how fast you’re shredding, how far you just jumped) and—get this—stream info live from your smartphone (texts, emails, resort maps) via Bluetooth. Oh, and the goggle’s nice, too: It has interchangeable lenses and Smith’s first-rate anti-fog technology. Available in November.

We love the Snow Peak Hozuki Lantern for its soothing candle mode: When the breeze blows or you make a sound, the LED light inside flickers. But it’s a bit too big for backpacking. Now comes the Mini Hozuki Lantern, just 2.4 ounces and smaller than your fist. A nice addition to every tent. Available October 15.

Heart rate, location, weather, speed—the sleek Suunto Ambit Multifunction Watch measures all. And with remarkable precision, thanks to an accelerometer-integrated GPS. For the serious outdoor adventurer with an inner data geek.

Finally, a winter boot that can actually go somewhere—on the plane and in your carry-on. The Teva Men’s Chair 5 (and Women’s Jordanelle) compresses down to the size of a regular shoe and, yes, it really is a winter boot: The seam-sealed waterproof upper keeps the elements out, the cozy (and removable) liner keeps the warmth in, and the sticky rubber outsole keeps you on your feet.

Lib Tech and Travis Rice have done it again. The new Travis Rice Pro Horsepower is every bit as awesome as previous models—banana camber to maximize control without sacrificing float; serrated edges for extra edge hold; solid, basalt-infused core for pop—and already raking in the accolades. It just made Snowboarder magazine’s Best of Test list and garnered a Good Wood award from Transworld SNOWboarding.

The new eVent DVL fabric is all the rage in the waterproof-breathable world and Westcomb’s Focus LT Hoody is one of the first pieces to use it. The three-season shell is light (195 g), packable, waterproof and—drum roll—exceptionally breathable.

Winter Running Freaks, meet the Yaktrax Run, the first footwear traction device designed specifically for runners. With removable spikes placed at key strike points and steel coils over the heel for additional traction on the end strike, you can pound packed snow and ice like it’s pavement.

Magazine ski test results are rolling in and already the all-mountain Blizzard Bonafide is generating a lot of buzz. Why? It floats in powder, carves through crud and rips on the bumps. Or, as puts it, it’s “a bonafide one ski quiver.” Well said.