Let's talk gear, shall we? It just so happens to be one of my favorite topics and after mentioning, in my post on returning home, about how I believe there are some names that represent quality - I figured I'd round the thought out a tad. Plus, nothing can make winter worse than having the wrong gear.
Here are my, personal, top five favorites when it comes to gear you can trust to "get you there". Names that I have found, over years, to produce gear that won't leave you hanging off a cliff with a broken strap or half way up a trail with a hole in your sock. These are my tested and true "go-to" names in the Outdoor Industry for all around quality and longevity - okay - and a tad of practicality and style. More specifically, these five brands have become my top picks for cold weather gear. Learning how to stay warm in the winter can add a whole new season to your Outdoor adventuring.
Anything with the word wool in the name gains my immediate attention when it comes to winter clothes. Woolrich is another one of those, but, I promised to cut myself off at a solid five. Dressing in layers is essential for cold natured folk, such as myself, and wool is a match made in base-layer heaven. Down with cotton - if it's cotton, you WILL be cold. Not only does SmartWool make a few of my favorite baselayers, but I'm slightly obsessed with their wool socks. They put the fun back in functional (My mother has a coffee mug with that phrase, it always cracks me up) SmartWool's use of patterns combined with Merino wool technology has them high on my list. Their gear is comfortable (not itchy as wool has a reputation of being), breathable and KEEPS YOU WARM.
Outdoor Research really should come last if we are talking about how to dress in layers for cold weather - because, the gear I want to highlight is their shells. However, in terms of good gear on a budget, Outdoor Research ranks pretty high. They make all kinds of gear and offer relatively affordable pricing. Personally, though, I think they really excel when it comes to shells. Wind is warmth's worst enemy. You can have as many stellar base-layers and down jackets as you want, but the wind and rain will eat right through them. A quality shell will make all the difference.
Those down jackets I just mentioned? Talk about Game Changer. There's something about a feather and a little bit of air that can make a world of difference. Patagonia does best when you let them -base layers and technical jackets. Style is their downfall when it comes to warmth, though not when it comes to wrangling in customers (some might call it Patagucci). I have a Snap-t pullover, it stays buried in one of my trunks with a few other sweatshirts - cute, but useless. My Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket, though, is an all time favorite winter piece - 800-fill without being too big and puffy.
From dressing in layers to staying snug and warm in your tent (or even inside for that matter) both Pendleton and Marmot have a good thing going. I mentioned my weakness for patterns - Pendleton is one of my favorite companies for such, however, there's more to them than just good looks! Quality and warmth are synonymous with "Pendleton." Again, with the WOOL!! Growing up, our family Pendleton blanket was a staple of warmth and was always at the top of the packing list for winter trips to the mountains. Now, Joel (my husband) and I have our own and for us, it is an everyday necessity when winter sets in.
Last, but not least, for my list of five favorite outdoor brands when it comes to winter gear - Marmot. My deep appreciation for my Marmot sleeping bag deserves a post of its own and may be the sole reason Marmot made the list. They make a wide variety of outdoor gear and hit a middle mark when it comes to certain pieces. However, their pricing makes them a great option for quality outdoor gear on a budget. The Marmot Sawtooth Sleeping bag has never left me disappointed or cold (and it has carried me through below freezing nights).