Winter Eyewear

ESS Influx Cold Weather Goggle

 

MSRP
$135

URL
www.esseyepro.com

Notes: ESS is a subsidiary of Oakley and focuses specifically on eyewear. Their Influx Cold Weather Goggles are geared toward tactical use. We felt they were a great value and never fogged up on us. Shooters will be happy to know they meet U.S. Mil-spec MIL-PRF-32432, ANSI Z87.1-2015, OSHA and CE EN166 ballistic protection standards. They come with three 3mm polycarbonate lens choices, which we found easy to remove and switch out. The headband has a sliding sleeve on it to keep the lens protected when not in use, and it also comes with a carrying case that has Velcro attachments to hook it onto your belt or backpack. The fleece-lined face foam was comfortable and did a great job wicking away moisture. Although we appreciated how form fitting they were, anyone wearing corrective lenses might have to switch to contacts, as the goggles might be too narrow to wear with most eyeglasses. Made in the USA.

Pros:

  • Comes with clear, smoke gray, and alpenglow (amber) lenses
  • Headband is removable
  • Lens cleaner included

Cons:

  • Only available in white
  • A bit too narrow to wear with corrective lenses

Oakley Line Miner Snow Goggle

MSRP
$120 to $150

URL
www.oakley.com

Notes: The Line Miner from Oakley provided impressive forward and peripheral vision with wide, high lenses. They meet the ANSI Z87.1 and EN 166 standards for goggle impact protection, but are intended more for outdoor activity than military “ballistic” standards. These goggles were wide enough to accommodate corrective lenses, and we never had an issue with fogging or moisture evaporation. According to the manufacturer, the injection-molded Plutonite lenses provide 100-percent protection against UVA/UVB/UVC and harmful blue light up to 400nm. Other lens options are sold separately, though changing them out is a little tricky till you get the hang of it. Lens thickness is 2.34mm. Made in China.

Pros:

  • Numerous goggle and lens color combos
  • “Asian Fit” sizes available
  • Shape is compatible with most helmets

Cons:

  • Headband not removable
  • No carrying case; microbag only provides minimal protection
  • Only comes with one lens

Winter Outerwear

Eddie Bauer Vinson Down Parka

MSRP
$299 to $317

URL
www.eddiebauer.com

Notes: You definitely feel like you’re getting a lot of value for this parka. It’s machine washable and the Velcro wrist closures, elasticized cuffs, drawstrings on the waist and hood, and zipper/button front closure ensure that cold had a hard time getting through. With all the extra storage, fasteners for the openings, and full-bodied lining, you certainly know you’re wearing a jacket intended for harsh weather — in other words, it’s not light. We loved the abundance of large pockets with Velcro or zippered closures. Even though we’re fairly sure firearms weren’t a consideration in the design, a pass-through on one of the external pockets would enable the wearer to retrieve something of the concealed persuasion much more discretely. The parka had an expected low waist to it. Combined with the Cordura/nylon material, it held up very well in winter weather. Made in Bangladesh.

Pros:

  • Faux fur is removable
  • Comes with a balaclava
  • Storage galore with nine pockets

Cons:

  • Hood itself can’t be removed
  • Only comes in two colors

Eddie Bauer Powder Search 2.0 Insulated Pants

MSRP
$113 to $125

URL
www.eddiebauer.com

Pros:

  • Tall sizes available
  • Inexpensive
  • Two zippered thigh vents

Cons:

  • No full-length leg zippers for fast removal

Notes: The Powder Search 2.0 Insulated Pants also provide quite a bit of value for a comparatively low cost with features absent on other brands we tested. The pants were very comfortable and the polyester/nylon materials worked well to insulate for warmth. Their StormRepel Super DWR finish repelled rainwater effectively and the elasticized ankles on the lining performed well to keep snow from creeping into footwear. Although these pants don’t have zippers along the legs to be donned quickly, they do have an elasticized waist with Velcro cinch straps to adjust to your liking. The addition of belt loops and a D-ring attachment were nice touches. Two zippered hip pockets, along with two Velcro flap-closure thigh pockets, allow for plenty of storage. Made in Vietnam.

Arc’teryx Camosun Parka

MSRP
$649

URL
www.arcteryx.com

Notes: Although this parka can definitely hold its own keeping you warm, it doesn’t feel heavy or cumbersome. The Gore-Tex material is light but robust enough to repel the elements. Its design is simple and practical for winter sports and extended outdoor activity. It ‘s stylish enough for urban wear and could even pass for a raincoat since the waist is higher than most parkas. The hood can be removed via snap-button attachments if desired and pulled snug with drawstrings if you’re getting hit hard by the wind. Two external hand pockets and one internal pocket with zippered closures are sufficient for a decent amount of storage. The sleeves were fairly snug with internal cuffs, but we were surprised there aren’t any drawstrings to make the waist a bit tighter. Made in China.

Pros:

  • Practical for a variety of uses
  • Feels much lighter than it looks
  • Arc’teryx branding visibility is subtle, unlike some companies that add huge logos everywhere

Cons:

  • Price is quite a bit higher than many of its competitors
  • Only three colors

Arc’teryx LEAF Cold WX Pant SV Men’s

MSRP
$89

URL
www.arcteryx.com

Notes: When it comes to cold-weather clothing, the LEAF line from Arc’teryx is well known for its quality. The level of thermal protection against both wind and direct contact with snow you’ll get from the Gore-Tex material and Climashield lining is top notch. These pants are surprisingly comfortable and maneuverable for how well-insulated they are. Unless cold-weather work and exposure is a regular occurrence for you, the price might be discouraging. Although the pants are high-waisted, the integrated belt doesn’t really allow for the attachment of any accessories you might like to carry. We’d have to liked to see these in other colors than the two offered, but we really can’t complain about the fit and finish, and have confidence these will hold up to the elements for a long time. Made in Canada.

Pros:

  • Drawstrings on pantleg bottoms are a plus when walking through deep snow
  • Can be easily layered over other clothing and removed quickly with the full-length zippers on each leg
  • Plenty of sizes to choose from

Cons:

  • Only two pockets
  • Beltloops would’ve been a plus in case you’d like to carry more equipment

Varusteleka Särmä TST L7 Camouflage Trousers; Särmä TST L7 Camouflage Anorak

MSRP
$93 (trousers); $140 (anorak)

URL
www.varusteleka.com

Notes: This snow-camo suit is intended to be worn in conjunction with the L5 Thermal Trousers and Anorak for adaptability to environmental changes. They basically have the same zippered vent locations as the L5 combo, and the entire suit is very lightweight. According to the manufacturer, an old trick is to use snow-camo trousers with the “frozen” pattern jacket to mimic the snow on the ground as well as the winter foliage. While the system is very modular, not everyone needs camo, so your color options are confined to those patterns. We’d have liked a pass-through sleeve on the front of the anorak for storage or as a handwarmer. The quality is robust since it’s intended for law enforcement and military, but lack of storage may be an issue for hunters or others who desire this type of clothing. Bottoms have loops for M1950-style suspenders; Varusteleka carries such options. Anorak has drawstrings on hood and waist with Velcro wrist closures, but unfortunately not on the trousers. Made in Estonia.

Pros:

  • Easily to put on and take off over other clothing
  • Surprisingly good insulation for how thin it is
  • Takes up minimal space if packed for impromptu use

Cons:

  • Elasticized waist, but no drawstrings or belt loops
  • No non-camo colors
  • Limited practicality

Varusteleka Särmä TST L3 Loft Jacket; Särmä TST L3 Loft Trousers

MSRP
$75 to $93 (jacket); $93 (pants)

URL
www.varusteleka.com

Notes: The Särmä TST L3 jacket and pants are thin enough to be worn as midlayers, but warm enough to be worn as outer layers. Both items are exceptionally priced for the quality you get. We’d have liked to see more than one pocket on the jacket (and any pockets at all on the pants), but appreciated the drawstrings on the collar and waist. Both are lightweight, breathable, and made from 100-percent polyamide with Climashield insulation. Pants can be removed easily with full-length zippers on each leg, but we were surprised that no drawstrings are on the waist or ankle. Jacket has elasticized wrists. Both items are warrantied for 12 months and worked well to repel cold and wind. Made in Estonia.

Pros:

  • Great value
  • 12-month warranty
  • Lots of size options

Cons:

  • Color options are limited to larger jackets; only one color on pants
  • Pants don’t have belt loops

Varusteleka Särmä TST L5 Thermal Trousers; Särmä TST L5 Thermal Anorak

MSRP
$149 (trousers); $186 (anorak)

URL
www.varusteleka.com

Notes: If you’re looking for camouflage winter clothing options, Varusteleka’s TST line is both a highly affordable and practical option. The “frozen” pattern is intended to mimic winter foliage patterns before snowfall. The fit was exceptional, and both items were comfortable in all the right areas, while keeping us well protected from the elements. Material is 100% PA ripstop, with shin, knee, butt, and waist areas reinforced with 500D Cordura. Abundance of sizes would work for practically anyone. Elasticized ankles on trousers, wrists, and waist on the anorak kept snow from creeping in. Since these are more for tactical use, our main complaint was lack of pockets. The zippered vents on the anorak worked well to access your inner layers, although we wondered why the zippers didn’t run the full length of the pantleg. Also, the buckled crotch strap on the anorak was an interesting way to keep your top from riding up if you’re crawling or prone for long periods of time, but might take some getting used to. Made in Estonia.

Pros:

  • Price is exceptional for the quality
  • Fleece-lined hood large enough to accommodate a helmet
  • Thick enough to repel elements without being bulky

Cons:

  • Only two pockets on trousers; none on pull-over anorak
  • No belt loops

Winter Baselayers

Varusteleka Särmä TST L2 Turtleneck Shirt; Särmä TST L1 Liner Gloves; Särmä TST L1 Balaclava

MSRP
$42 to $56 (top); $19 (balaclava); $24 (gloves)

URL
www.varusteleka.com

Notes: Varusteleka is a military and outdoor company from Finland, so we knew they spoke fluent cold-weather clothing. They sent us an assortment of baselayers, and we were pleased with how the items performed. They were thin enough to be worn in with other baselayers if desired. The 80/20 merino wool/polyester combo kept us sufficiently warm and were very comfortable. They’re machine washable, but air-drying is recommended. The zippered turtleneck shirt is practical even as an outer layer in the right environment. Gloves repelled cold and moisture penetration very well. Balaclava can be worn as a cap, tube scarf, or full facemask. Made in Lithuania.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than many American brands using the same material combinations
  • 12-month warranty
  • Material is very form-fitting

Cons:

  • Crotch opening would be nice
  • Only item with color options is the balaclava

Eddie Bauer Heavyweight FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Pants

MSRP
$63

URL
www.eddiebauer.com

Notes: Merino wool is definitely the way to go on baselayers. The Heavyweight FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Pants fit snugly without being constricting or itchy. They made of 50-percent merino wool/50-percent polyester, so these bottoms can be machine washed and dried delicately. Breathability, heat retention, and moisture wicking worked well, and we were pleasantly surprised to find these bottoms longer in the legs than expected. We did, however, wish there was crotch opening, since sometimes nature calls when you’re actually out in nature. Made in China.

Pros:

  • Very light and comfortable
  • Legs stayed snug and didn’t ride up the calf after hours of use

Cons:

  • Crotch opening would be nice
  • A bit pricey

Winter Footwear

Lowa Renegade Evo Ice GTX

MSRP
$295

URL
www.lowaboots.com

Notes: Even when walking through knee-deep snow, we were pleased how well these boots kept it from creeping inside and getting our feet soaking wet. The Gore-Tex and leather provided great insulation from the elements, heat retention, and were comfortable to wear. We’d have wished for a bit more padding in the very front, as we got a bit of toe-slam walking downhill. The aggressive traction was great on snow, especially going uphill, but was a bit dodgy at times on ice. All in all, we felt they were a good investment that could be worn in a variety of muddy, slushy, and snowy environments to keep your feet protected. Made in Slovakia.

Pros:

  • Larger sizes available
  • Three neutral color options

Cons:

  • Padding could be improved in toe area
  • Consider wearing crampons with these if you’re walking on ice

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