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The 50 Best winter sports gear

Whether you’re sticking to the blue runs or tackling something more adventurous, Jonathan Thompson chooses the kit that’s always high-performance

Jonathan Thompson
Friday 09 November 2012 19:00 GMT

The experts:

Matt Barr is Author of Skiing Europe and Snowboarding The World (

Claire Collins is Marketing manager of Snow+Rock, winter sports retailer (

Shona Tate is BASI Trainer and Director at the British Alpine Ski Schools (

Dan Grose is Outdoor sports and fitness buyer at online lifestyle store Surfdome (


Analog Freedom jacket, £179.99

This does everything you need it to do and the fabric looks great. It also gives you licence to pair it with some seriously loud snowboard pants.

Kjus Formula Four-Way Stretch jacket, £730

Two things Scandinavians do well are fashion and winter sports. Kjus have thought of everything – this even has a detachable balaclava.

Salomon Snowtrip, £239.99

“You can either wear the outer layer or the inner soft shell separately, or both together on cold days,” says Shona. “It fits your body snugly and comes in some great colours.”

Killy Nymphe jacket, £549.95

Tartiflette, fondue – there’s a lot of cheese served up in the mountains. Luckily, this ladies jacket has been designed to give the illusion of a more flattering silhouette on the slopes.

Columbia Circuit Breaker, £550

A softshell women’s jacket with built-in heat elements: on demand warmth at the push of a button. Crucial if we’re facing a repeat of last season’s extreme cold conditions.

Arc’teryx Men’s Sidewinder, £480

“The offset front zipper avoids that annoying, chin scratching pile up of zips,” says Matt. “The storm hood fits perfectly over a helmet too.”

Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer, £230

At 170g (the same weight as a bar of Kendal Mint Cake) this is the lightest down jacket in the world, ideal for layering under an outer shell.

Aether Altitude, £420

“The three-point adjustable hood, hand-warmer pockets and anchored bottom-hem adjustors show a real knowledge of what serious skiers really want,” says Matt.

Helly Hansen Enigma, £550

If life is a box of chocolates, this is one of the soft centres: a carefully created shell on the outside, but lightness and comfort within. Highly recommended.

Patagonia Micro, £80

“A really versatile jacket, this is warm, waterproof, wind proof and well insulated,” says Matt. “It comes in a stuff sack so compresses right down for packing purposes too.”


Volcom Ventral, £160

“These are men’s snowboard pants but a lot of skiers will be wearing them,” says Matt. “The two-layer shell means waterproof, breathable protection, but the ergonomic fit gives freedom".

Columbia Bugaboo II, £90

With waterproof-breathable construction and critical seam sealing, these insulated men’s pants will do the job in style. “The perfect amount of warmth, comfort and protection,” says Dan.

Salomon Snowtrip II, £169.99

“These women’s pants are cut stylishly, but are still incredibly comfortable,” says Shona. “They move with you, which makes for smoother skiing too.” They come in a range of block colours.

The North Face Freedom ski trousers, £150

“Cut well for optimum mobility and the stretch gaiters fit securely over boots, something many brands haven’t got right,” says Dan. They also have a ‘Chimney Venting system’.

Protest Hopkin, £80

“Classic, dependable women’s pants,” says Shona. Articulated knees are a bonus for snowboarding, plus plenty of pockets mean you can carry everything you need for the slopes without a backpack.


Rohan Men’s Superfine Merino 200 Zip, £85

“Made from the merino wool of New Zealand’s finest Alpine sheep, this takes advantage of Mother Nature’s finest technical fabric,” says Shona.

Odlo Evolution Warm Crew base layer, £54.99

“This keeps you warm in the right places,” says Shona. “Antibacterial fabric means you can wear it for a number of days without any nasty odours.”

Arc’teryx Men’s Atom LT hoody, £180

This insulated mid-layer can sit under an outer shell, or be worn as a jacket. “If you like skiing, this is the best layer you’ll ever own,” says Matt.

Finisterre Zephyr, £40

“Surf brand Finisterre’s merino base layers are so good that I swear by them for snowboarding,” says Matt. “Its selection is extensive and will keep you warm and comfy.”

Helly Hansen Racing, £200

This high-performance compression set gives warmth, support and breathability. Well placed seams mean chafing is a thing of the past. “It’s like a second skin,” says Matt.


Oakley Danny Kass Signature Series, £150

“These allow you to maximise peripheral and downward vision without compromise on fit, comfort or compatability with your helmet,” says Dan.

Anon M1, £180

“These have magnets built into the frame, so the lenses are super easy to change,” says Claire. It’ll make the world of difference when you’re trying to change them in a blizzard.

Bolle Nova, £59.98

These sit close to your head which, along with their flow tech venting system, means you rarely have any issues with them steaming up.

Dragon APX, £125

We know you’re a good skier – but you can’t rely on everybody else to be. Because they don’t have a frame, these offer extraordinary peripheral vision.

Oakley Catapult OTG, £55

You don’t need to see an optician: this really is a pair of Oakley goggles at an unbelievable price. And if you do need to see an optician, these are over-the-glasses goggles.

Après ski:

Ami knitted wool sweater £175

You won’t feel like ironing a shirt after a hard day on the piste, but throw this woolly wingman on and you’ll look effortlessly stylish while sinking those well-earned drinks.

The North Face Abby IV Luxe boot, £155

“Waterproof and extremely warm thanks to the PrimaLoft insulation,” says Shona. “I love the fur trim, and the temperature-sensitive rubber soles will give you great grip.”

Penfield Gillman vest, £200

“Gilets are going to be everywhere this season, and they’re perfect alpine bar wear,” says Matt. They’re best paired with a T-shirt, bobble hat and Jagerbomb for full seasonaire effect.

Sorel men’s Chugalug boot, £190

After a day on the slopes, the last thing you want to do is let your guard – or your balance – slip in the evening. The Chugalugs will chug you to and from the best bars in style.

Barbour Caister Fair Isle lambswool sweater, £79.95

This kind of ‘midlayer’ would have been worn in a time before ski lifts. The lambswool will keep you warm, while Alcantara elbow patches bring the look up to date nicely.


Motorola TLKR T6 walkie talkie radio, £59.99

“The ideal way to stay connected without roaming charges,” says Claire. Because skiing is expensive enough, without a colossal phone bill.

Kjus Men’s GSM glove, £199.99

These are what Michael Knight would have worn if Knight Rider had been set in a ski resort. “Bluetooth technology means you can use these as a handset on the go,” says Matt.

G-Shock Gravity Defier, £285

The Casio G-Shock is ideal for snow sports, and the Gravity Defier is special. Its solar battery lasts for months and it adjusts itself as you fly (or ski) across time zones.

Apple iPod Nano, £129

The new iPod Nano features Bluetooth functionality, which means you can put it in your pocket and control tracks externally with a device like Burton’s Mix Master glove.

Bowers & Wilkins C5 Titanium earphones, £149.99

As you relax on the ski lifts you can be sure of one thing: your earphones won’t budge, thanks to Bowers & Wilkins’s ‘secure loop technology’.


Bern Muse helmet, £79.99

“One of the best helmet designs on the market, Bern’s headgear always comes with a patented visor,” says Matt. “This one can double up as a bike helmet at home too.”

Barts Chani beanie, £19.99

“A great hat in off-white, which means it will go with almost anything you wear,” says Shona. “I’ll wear a helmet to ski or board, but have this in my pocket for when we stop.”

Black Diamond compactor poles, £99.99

No more pesky unclipping on the flat or cadging tows from grumpy skiers with one of these beauties strapped to your backpack.

Nokia X Burton Insulator Case, £20

Phones and snow aren’t natural partners, but the Insulator Case will extend your mobile’s battery life by up to 50 per cent in sub zero temperatures.

Rohan Powerstation, £125

These self-heating gloves are a fantastic invention. Cold hands on the ski lift will be a distant memory as the batteries keep your digits nice and toasty for three hours.

Salomon Icon Origins, £100

Remember those Reebok trainers you could pump air into? This is a version for the opposite end of your body. “It’s often hard to find a helmet that fits, but this solves that instantly,” says Shona.

Smartwool PHD, £20.99

If you’re about to dip your toe into the world of winter sports, this is what you want on your feet. “Everything you want in a pair of ski socks,” says Shona. “An ergonomic fit, with support in the right places.”

Douchebag 2.0, £199.99

Forget the pre-dawn luggage juggle – this is an ingenious product from the irreverent ski luggage brand. The rigid skeleton rolls up to correct ski length, with room for all your kit, then rolls away for storage.

Salomon Tactile CS, £64.99

“The furry inner is so nice that it feels like a comfort blanket while you’re skiing,” says Shona. “The leather palm gives a good feel against your ski pole, and there’s a pocket on the back for your lift pass.”

Osprey Kode 22 snow pack, £80

“Osprey are the Apple of the luggage world, and this is a great pack,” says Dan. “It’s spacious inside, with wet and dry gear divisions.”

YMC Navajo Grey bobble hat, £45

This hat is perfect for protecting your head and fashion credentials while en route to the pub – whether it’s on your street or in the Alps.

Barts fur scarf, £29.99

“This will bring bling to any ski outfit,” says Shona. “It feels great against your skin and will keep you lovely and warm, as well as brightening up your look.”

The North Face midweight ski sock, £18

Technical socks designed specifically for the female foot, these have elastic arches and ankles for perfect hold, and padding in key areas.

Burton Mix Master glove, £105

The Mix Master gloves allow you to throw your iPod Nano or iPhone into your jacket or pack, then control it by simply tapping on your glove.

Maui Jim Seawall, £166

Maui isn’t often linked with snow, but these are an exception. Matt says: “The design protects you from sidewinds, and the lenses are perfect for skiing.”

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