Don’t let those cold snaps keep you from getting out. We’ve had two of those this season already and both of them have yielded some excellent powder days for me. There weren’t many others out to enjoy it and, no, I don’t think posting this will change that much. So if you want to enjoy those wicked cold powdery days yourself, here’s what kept me warm:

Base Layers

IbexMy go-to boxer-brief for years has been from Ibex. My two pairs of (Nut) Roasters from 2006 are getting pretty thin, but that’s an incredible amount of time to last considering my frequent forays into cold winter bliss each season. Two or three seasons ago I picked up a pair of Ibex’s Windstopper Wooly Boxers which are holding out brilliantly as well, though I don’t see them on their website any more. I haven’t tried their latest offering, the Men’s Woolies 220 Boxer (pictured), but I have no doubt they step it up and provide the incredible warmth and comfort as it’s Ibex ancestors. Sadly, other men must have been put off by the stripes Ibex used to offer so now it’s only available in black (boooooorrrrrringgggg).

XbionicNew for me this season are my Energy Accumulator EVO long underwear base layers from X-Bionic. Ironically, after complaining about lack of stripes on the Ibex, X-Bionic puts stripes all over, but for techy reasons. The claim is these base layers warm you when you’re cool and cool you when your warm by body mapping various compression technologies and stitch patters based on where we sweat most and radiate the most heat by incorporating air vent channels in the fabric and more. The earth-friendly recyclable packaging is covered with nearly seven pages describing all the techy aspects of why extra surface area was incorporated here, better wicking fabrics were placed there, compression zones here and here and such. In the end, all I know is I was very comfortable while skinning up and skiing down in the 0°F temps along with some wind chill when we got to the top. Check out their website for the interactive body mapped tech specs.

FitsSocksLike my Ibex, a long time favorite for wool socks in any sort of adventure are my FITS Socks. Their attention to the “Full Contact Fit” and seamless construction weave keeps the sock in place, avoids any sort of excess fabric that can bunch and cause a blister spot or inhibit blood flow.

Mid Layers

columbia1My two preferences in my first mid layer are simple: that it be a 1/2 zip pullover and that it has a chest pocket to stash a snack or gadget if for some reason I end up stripping down this deep. The Columbia Cuerpo Thermo 1/2 Zip nails both. Add to that Columbia’s Omni-Heat body heat reflective technology to trap heat, their Omni-Wick to move moisture away keeping me dry and a perfect active fit over my base layers and this piece nails it. The details make a difference, too. The half zip collar and pocket zipper tabs are big enough to find and zip with gloves on.

icebreakerFor the cold snaps like we had in December and early January, a second mid layer serves me well. Sometimes a soft shell fits the bill, but a more supple and sometimes more comfortable option is to go with natural fibers. The full zip Icebreaker Legend Insulator has quilted on the front and back and is super warm and breathable. A great outer layer heat management option for charging up slope in the wind or while carving turns on the way down.

Outer Layers

patagoniaAll of these layers are obviously crucial depending on the weather and the shell is no different. It’s something that tends to live in my pack until the weather turns to crap. That doesn’t necessarily mean you just turn around and call it a day, it’s why you’re out there in the first place and now you’ve got fresh flakes falling (or blowing) around you. Patagonia uses the latest Gore-Tex Pro technology in their Super Alpine Jacket to keep it super breathable while being rugged, durable, waterproof and windproof. The jacket is incredibly versatile with harness/pack compatible pockets, a hood that adjusts to fit your head or helmet equally well and pleated gasket dry cuffs that fit nicely under my gauntlet style glove.

columbia2The outermost layer I carry is a puffy of some sort. My scouting experience has pounded in the need to be prepared and my years of mountain search and rescue work has provided numerous examples where being prepared has paid off when things don’t quite turn out as expected. Also, it adds a layer of comfort while stripping off my skins and getting ready for the descent. It also allows me to be more patient as I wait for my partner to adjust bindings, grab a snack or do any of the million other things that might hold us up at the top in the wind before shushing down to the cover of the trees. Again, Columbia comes through as I’m trying out their latest Diamond TurboDown available for Fall 2014. TurboDown is a combo of goose down layered upon Columbia’s Ommi-Heat insulation. The synthetic insulation is closer to the body which they claim will do a better job of wicking body moisture away. This combo blends the idea of packability and affordability. Beyond the technology and insulation integration the jacket has a great cut, fits well and packs away nicely.

EddyBauerNo, we’re not skiing in our long underwear. Eddie Bauer First Ascent Heyburn 2.0 Pants have worked well for me. With a little bit of insulation and some great built in features, these are great for when the mercury drops. Integrated gaiters, cargo and hand pockets, reenforced Cordura cuff guards and an internal avalanche beacon pocket are all plusses. A clever adjustable waist band system brings in a perfect fit to stay comfortable and keep your pants on while climbing, skiing and yes, tumbling on occasion.