Stay active all winter with the right gear
It’s freezing outside, the fire feels warm, there’s a pot of tea steeping, and the couch is calling my name. Only one problem, I’m committed to an active lifestyle all year, not just in the warms months. Sure I ski in winter, but overall, I’m like many people who are less active during the freezing months.
This year I pledged to do things differently. I’m making an effort to get out and do something active most days, even if I don’t have time for skiing, my favorite winter sport.
Looking for inspiration, I headed to the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market last week. Normally walk through the show all googly eyed over the newest alpine and backcountry ski gear, and there certainly was some of that. However I also looked for gear that gave me options to get out with non-skiing friends, or to fill short time-slots when I can’t get on mountain.
What I found was a mix of solid options and new that make winter sports, including skiing, more fun and comfortable.
First I’ll share some products that excited me in the ski world.
Two of my favorite backcountry pack companies, Ortovox and Osprey, are launching revamped options in both male and female sizes.
Ortovox Haute Route 32 – Large enough to pack avalanche gear, and spare layer and small snack, this pack is shaped to fit the female form. I’m excited to have an option that won’t dig into my hip-bones and sports a back panel shaped for a woman’s form! Of course it has all of the features any serious backcountry skier needs such as ice ax loops, separate safety compartment, and ample gear loops.
Osprey Kresta – Available in three sizes, the Kresta, will be out next season and I can’t wait to try it. I’ve been packing the unisex Kode 32 for my snow adventures for two seasons and love most of its features. Always innovating, Osprey upped its game with the lady’s Kresta, and the guy’s model, the Kamber, by incorporating feedback form Kode users. New features include a big red Oh S#!t zipper on the rescue compartment, duel helmet positions, back and top load panels for fast access, and a strippable top pouch on the 40L size. There is also an ABS option available in the Kamber.
Smith Optics I/O Goggle with ChromaPop Lens – Coming soon, my favorite sunny lenses will be available on snow goggles. If you haven’t tried ChromaPop, stop buy your local Smith dealer and check it out. The color definition rocks! I love a good storm-day on the mountain and can’t wait to have this lens on my face.
Running became a big part of my life this fall when I ran my first half-marathon. It was a huge victory and I didn’t want to lose those gains over winter. That said, I’m scared of falling on frozen trails and I struggle to stay warm until I’ve been moving for a while. My mission, to find good traction and breathable layers for running.
I’ll confess that I found these products before the OR show because I couldn’t wait, but that also means I’ve tested them in the elements.
Kahtoola Nano-Spikes – When I first looked at these Kahtoolas, I thought there was no way they wouldn’t slip, but they don’t. They work great on pavement or trails. and I highly recommend them for runners who don’t want to give up their sport on icy days. If your trail is wicked rock, move to the Micro-Spikes.
Gore-Tex Running Shoes – If everyday were sunny and bright, running would be easier. It’s the less than perfect days that challenge our resolve. Running in snow or drizzle is daunting some days. I wore Gore-Tex shoes in the half-marathon this fall and I’m running through snow in them now. I thought they wouldn’t breathe well in warm temps, but the Gore-Tex lining kept my feet dry even on warm days. I wore the North Face Ultra Trail GTX, but there were a bunch of new Gore-Tex options at OR. I also wore a GORE Running Wear WindStopper jacket on cool morning runs. Can you tell I’m a fan?! Yes, those are my muddy feet in the picture.
Snowshoeing is a great option for playing outside with non-skiers, on the cheap, and in quiet natural beauty. It’s also a fun workout. With this in mind, I swung by MSR to check out the latest options in their line.
MSR Snowshoes – I don’t have a favorite model because each has advantages. Some are built for speed, while others are stockier and build for the long haul. A good bet for general use is the Explore series. They also have economy models that are a good place to start if you think you’ll only play on them occasionally. However, renting is probably a better idea in that case.
If you do decide to head out snowshoeing, especially on steep terrain, be sure to check with a local guide service or avalanche center to make sure the trails are safe.
Seriously, I love the name as much as riding one! What’s a fat bike you ask? They are bikes build for soft sand, dust, or snow. They have crazy fat tires that float over soft surfaces in a way regular mountain bike tires never would. I’ve only ridden one twice, the first time in loose dust of Black Rock City, and more recently in Park City and it was such a hoot! The fat bike craze is growing around the nation with resorts like Powder Mountain hosting championship races in spring snow.
Scott Big Jon – The bike I tested in Park city was the Scott Big Jon model. Once you ride one, you’ll want to bike all winter!
I only have one product to mention here because this company’s systems fill packs offered by a ton of different brands in the industry. Hydrapak makes it their mission to supply bomb-proof hydration systems to athletes in all climates. This show I was interested in finding a system that wouldn’t freeze up.
Hydrapak ArcticFusion Tube Kit - The ArcticFusion Tube Kit is insulated down its 36-inch length, and more importantly it’s protected at the bite valve. It snaps onto any Hydrapack reservoir. At $19.99 and 5.5 ounces, I plan to add this tube to my pack as soon as it’s available.
I hope these ideas inspire you to resist the couch this winter. What are some other ways you play outside during winter? Please share so that we can all stay active between now and spring.