“The mountains are calling, and I must go—into the lodge for some hot chocolate, I’m freezing,” said no self-respecting shredder, ever. In order to answer when winter rings, you need to be prepared for frigid temps, blustery winds and the hurt of the fourth season. So we gathered our favorite cold-weather products and created the ideal setup for the occasion.
So don’t let a frightful forecast scare you off—instead, suit up with this head-to-toe kit, each piece hand-selected by our team of diehard skiers and riders, and prepare for a powder day like the pros.
REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Jacket (Women’s, Women’s Plus, Men’s and Men’s Tall)
On a stormy day, your ski jacket must juggle two essential jobs: keeping you dry and keeping you warm. Luckily, the Powderbound from REI Co-op is a consummate multi-tasker. A waterproof, two-layer nylon shell protects against precipitation, while 80 grams of synthetic insulation around the core (and 60 grams in the sleeves) supply much-needed warmth. Factor in a helmet-friendly hood, high collar, sealable cuffs and hem, removable powder skirt and ample pockets, and this alpine armor is our go-to for midwinter in the mountains. $199
REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Bib Snow Pants (Women’s, Women’s Plus, Women’s Petite, Men’s and Men’s Short)
The benefits of bibs outnumber the various sizes and fits the Powderbounds from REI Co-op are available in. But where these adventure-ready trousers really shine is on a good, old-fashioned powder day, when the high-waisted style makes it damn-near impossible for snow to breach your outerwear. A waterproof, two-layer nylon shell seals out precip, and a just-right 40 grams of synthetic insulation keeps your buns and thighs toasty on frigid lift rides or when adjusting snowboard bindings. Integrated gaiters keep powder from creeping into your boots, while zippered thigh vents let you crank the AC if temps rise. Nice touch: spacious chest and hand pockets for stashing snacks and other essentials. $189
Worried about warmth? The venerable Nano Puff is the ultimate insulation insurance policy. Patagonia stuffed it with 60 grams of PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco (sourced from 55% post-consumer recycled materials), which continues to trap heat even when wet. For how much warmth it packs, the Nano Puff is remarkably low-profile underneath your favorite ski shell. It packs down into its own chest pocket and weighs next to nothing, so you can easily stash it in your pack or shell if you start to overheat. $199
Many misguided skiers and riders fret about outerwear yet forget about base layers. But the key to staying warm in winter is a holistic approach to layering, and base layers are just as mission-critical as flashier, pricier outerwear. And when it comes to base layers that will keep you warm and dry, nothing beats Smartwool’s Merino 250. The heavyweight wool fabric traps body heat next to skin and naturally wicks sweat and combats bacterial build-up. The top is stretchy and feels tailored to the body thanks to a 3D-mapped fit, articulated elbows, paneled shoulders and flat seams. And while many skintight base layers are exclusively wearable on the hill, the quarter-zip silhouette and neutral colors are apropos for après, too. $105
Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms (Women’s, Women’s Plus and Men’s)
Merino and mobility go together like fat skis and bottomless powder, which is why you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pairing for the Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Quarter-Zip Top than—you guessed it—the Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms. They offer electric blanket-like warmth on cold chair rides, but help you dump heat when thigh burn sets in on powdery laps. Mostly though, they move with you, not against you, whether you’re popping through moguls or laying down high-speed GS turns. $100
Do you want the dexterity of gloves or the warmth of mittens? If the answer is yes, then you want to take a flyer on the lobster-style Gordini Cirque, which isolates the thumb and index finger for pole-gripping, binding-adjusting dexterity and sections the third, fourth and fifth fingers together for warmth. Additional heat comes from PrimaLoft® synthetic insulation, which is sandwiched between genuine goatskin leather and a moisture-wicking polyester lining. We also dig the wide neoprene cuffs, which cinch comfortably to slip under sleeves. $150
Goggles are nonnegotiable if snow and wind are in the forecast. POC’s Orb Clarity is extremely comfortable in extreme conditions, thanks to a semi-flexible frame and triple-layer foam. More importantly, optics are sharper than the edges of freshly tuned race skis. A collaboration with legendary lens maker Carl Zeiss, the Clarity lenses, which are spherical for better peripherals, augment contrast in flat light. They are interchangeable, but both options available (a dark grey and a dark orange) offer some 20-something visual light transmission, making them great all-around lenses for when overcast conditions give way to blue skies. $250
Safety may come first for the POC Obex MIPS, but warmth and comfort are tied for second place. Shutter the vents and hunker down beneath the plush ear pads when winter is in full effect. Or, remove the ear pads and plop the Obex on top of a stocking cap or balaclava if you want. As for safety, POC equipped the Obex with an ultradurable ABS shell, in-mold polycarbonate layer, EPS liner and MIPS—a plastic inner liner that helps reduce rotational forces. In other words, top of the line protection is the name of the game. $200
Don’t get cold feet—instead, get ready to drop in with Smartwool’s Performance Ski Targeted Cushion OTC socks. A thick blend of merino wool, nylon and elastane serves up a just-right balance of warmth, moisture management and durability. Some compression around the Achilles and calf helps you feel strong and recover well, while extra padding on higher-wear areas prevents toes and heels from popping out over time. Notably, though, the merino content naturally prevents stinky bacteria from finding their footing, which your carpool will appreciate. $26
Overexposing your nose to the elements is a classic rookie mistake. Instead, shred like a veteran in this wool balaclava from REI Co-op. A synthetic, DWR-treated outer fabric serves as all-weather armor, protecting your face from sun, wind and snow. Inside, a soft, merino wool liner is warm and comfortable next to skin. The seams are unobtrusive, and the low-profile cut fits well beneath a helmet. $34.95
Keep your fingertips or core warm when the mercury drops with the Zippo12-Hour Hand Warmer. It includes a funnel that you use to fill it with lighter fluid, then it generates flameless heat 2.5 times warmer than disposable warmers, the brand says. That means that this long-lasting heater—which fits neatly inside a pocket or mitten—eliminates the need for single-use heat packs, so it’s win-win for you and Mother Nature. $21.95
Do you need boot warmers? Of course not. But once you experience the joy of warm tootsies on a frigid day, you may change your tune. This kit from Hotronic includes a couple of rechargeable heating elements that turn hard, plastic ski boots into veritable saunas. They work with most insoles (including snowboard boots and hiking boots), and the beeper-size battery packs easily affix to an ankle cuff or power strap. Four settings allow for varying temperatures (ranging from 2.5 hours to 21 hours per charge). $268
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.