Jackets & Insulation

Your face is at risk for frostbite in bitter cold and freezing wind, especially in above-treeline winter conditions. To fully protect it, you need two things: a facemask and goggles. A good mask fits snug against your face and nose with no gaps whatsoever; the smallest exposed sliver will rapidly frostbite in severe winter conditions….

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Warmth in sheep’s clothing. Photo: WoolX Part of an ongoing series on Northeast-based gear companies. Turns out there’s more than one company in the Northeast specializing in merino wool garments. WoolX joins Minus33 in the cadre of regional merino wool proselytizers. And, after testing out one of their midweight tops, I would say my conversion…

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Photograph by iStock. Dirt, sweat, and body grime cause goose down to clump together, reducing the puffiness and warmth of your down gear. So puff it back up with the following tips on how to clean down jackets and sleeping bags: Handwash in the bathtub using a mild powdered detergent or down-specific cleaner (available from…

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I’ve used an extensive array of outdoor gear over 20 years of hiking, camping, and backpacking. Here are my top five most used, most abused, most durable, and most loved items. Please share yours! Mountain Hardwear Subzero Parka I purchased this ultra-warm, super-sized down parka a decade ago—and still revel in its delicious warmth every…

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This winter season, Columbia Sportswear is heavily promoting its new line of TurboDown jackets and vests, even featuring it in prominent TV ads during last week’s World Series. Besides having some marketing snazz, what exactly is TurboDown? And what does it say about the current state of goose down in general? The TurboDown sandwich: synthetic…

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Fill power indicates the volume of a given amount of down. Specifically, it measures how many cubic inches an ounce of down occupies under standard laboratory conditions. I often describe the world of outdoor company hype and catalog spin as 90 percent marketing and 10 percent science. When it comes to measuring and certifying the…

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Don’t sweat. You may have heard this basic adage of winter adventure, which in my experience is all but impossible to achieve. But there are some simple things you can do to minimize the amount you sweat, which is still a very worthwhile goal. Why not sweat? It’s simple. If you sweat, your base layer…

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The cost of high-quality goose down for puffy jackets and sleeping bags has more than doubled since 2009. This recent Wall Street Journal article tells the story, but it basically boils down to increasing demand meets decreasing supply. Most goose down comes from China and is essentially a byproduct of producing geese for food. But…

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The number one mistake made by novice cross-country skiers: overlayering. You generate a lot of body heat as you ski. Here’s what to wear for cross-country skiing. A warm base layer is sufficient to keep you comfortable in all but the most arctic conditions.  Heat-stealing wind is a major concern. Wear a lightweight, wind-resistant top and…

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A round-up of everything you wear, from head to toe, with some commentary on my personal preferences. Head, Face, and Neck You likely won’t need every square inch of your head and face covered while winter camping, but if you plan on heading above treeline in cold, very windy conditions, definitely have the four essentials—liner…

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