Dress for Success – Backcountry

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Innovations in fabric and insulation are making winter more comfortable than ever.

Backcountry fashion

Upcycled wool

Making clothing results in plenty of scraps. Usually they end up in the garbage, but SmartWool is collecting off-cuts from its merino baselayers, turning them into sheets of wool insulation and then stuffing them into puffy jackets, like the Smartloft 150 Hoody. The Smartloft insulation retains the thermoregulating properties that make wool so coveted, including breathability, warm when wet, moisture movement and no stink. ($280; smartwool.com)

Pull up your skirt

Sitting in the snow is cold, so instead of plunking your bum down unprotected at your next rest stop, pull on an MEC Uplink Skirt. Stuffed with Thermolite insulation in a water-resistant poly shell, the rubber-waisted skirt slides over ski boots easily for quick changes and stays warm even if it gets a bit wet from longer than expected breaks in the sun. No word yet on a men’s kilt version with insulated sporran. ($79; mec.ca)

Seeking shade

When you’re wet, you’re cold. That simple truth is at the heart of Mountain Hardwear’s Cloudseeker Jacket and Pant combo. To start moving moisture out, most waterproof-breathable membranes require a temperature/moisture differential between the interior environment and exterior, with any delay in time potentially leading to sweat. Mountain Hardwear says its Dry.Q Elite membrane breathes faster, and therefore better, than most fabrics. (jacket $600, pant $550; mountainhardwear.com)

Refuge in a storm

When down gets wet, from sweat or melting snow, it stops insulating. The VerticalX insulation in Outdoor Research’s Refuge Hooded Jacket however keeps on cranking. The proprietary synthetic insulation overlaps, giving it more warmth, durability and stretch. It’s akin to 700-fill down insulation, plenty for donning between climbs, but because it breathes so well, you can also wear it on the skin track when it’s freezing. Plus, it packs up small. ($269; outdoorresearch.com)

Airy baselayer

Patagonia calls its Capilene Air the most technologically advanced baselayer it’s made. The 51 per cent merino wool and 49 per cent recycled polyester yarn mixes the best of both: temperature regulation, the no-stink properties of natural wool, and the fast-drying and durability of poly. It’s air blasted to increase loft and cut weight and then stitched using a 3D knitting process to eliminate seams and increase durability and fit. Coles Notes: It’s super comfortable and really warm. ($179; patagonia.com)

Ski Canada Staff
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