Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gear Review - Cold Weather Apparel

With Old Man Winter still not giving up in many parts of the country I figured a write up on a few cold weather gear items which kept me warm and comfortable while outside in the elements over the last few months still made sense.

Even though we had a "real" winter in South Carolina terms, it was really on trips this past fall and winter to Montana, New Jersey, Colorado, and Michigan that these cold weather gear items were put to the test.

Below are nine winter apparel items, from seven different companies, which I thought were worthy of a mention in this post.       


I've spent a lot of time in the Nano Puff over this past winter but our ski trip to Colorado in February really showed me how versatile and worthy this windproof pullover is.  I skied in temps that hovered in the teens to low 20's all week in complete comfort with just a t-shirt and long underwear top underneath.  Impressive.

Read the full T.F.M. review to learn more. 


What does a company in Florida know about keeping your noggin warm?  Enough to offer the Tail Beanie, which is acrylic on the outside and micro fleece on the inside.  This hat is beyond warm and the iconic S.W.C. tail logo pasted on the front is a sharp touch as well.


In the warm months I live in any number of sun masks and when this polar fleece lined Buff arrived early last fall (while it was still steamy hot down here) I wasn't sure I was going to like it since it was pretty thick with a lot of bulk.  Fast forward to fly fishing in the snow in Montana and Michigan and a ski trip to Colorado and this is now an essential part of my cold weather kit keeping both my neck and face mighty warm.


Simply, warm feet are happy feet.  I learned years ago that keeping my feet in good shape for wading long days on the river meant finding wool socks with loft and cushion.

I first came across Icebreaker at IFTD last fall and was immediately impressed with a few of their apparel pieces but none as much as the Hike Mountain Mid Calf sock.  I took a pair of these socks home and they have become my go to socks to wear when wading.  At $25 a pair you won't wear them everyday but splurging on a pair to wear fly fishing makes total sense. 


Whether cold weather fly fishing, paddling, hiking, downhill skiing, or even driving, I've found the MXS Gloves to be an excellent lightweight glove with built in stripping guards on the fingers and a silicone palm for added grip.  These are a multi-use form fitting glove that have found a place in my cold weather gear bag.  They are one of the few full finger gloves that still provide enough dexterity to fly fish with while wearing as well.


There is a reason that you keep hearing about Vedavoo over and over here and elsewhere.  They just keep coming up with new and innovative pieces of gear in their basement sewing room.  The latest invention is the Hand Warmer Pack, which is not listed yet on the Vedavoo website but soon will be.

This heavy fleece lined pack can be worn around the waist or clipped into your wader straps at chest level.  Genius idea with lashing points across the front to hang tippet or tools, a large zip pocket to keep track of odds and ends handy, and hand warmer sleeve for keeping your digits warm too.


Kast Gear has been steadily rolling out their offerings for the past couple of years but the Steelhead Glove has been a mainstay of their collection from day one.  This breathable yet waterproof glove is durable beyond compare.  These are worth every penny of $80.

For more reading check out the reviews on the Headhunters Fly Shop and Deneki Outdoors blogs.


I have been wearing several pieces of RedRam thermal underwear for the past two winters and have found these merino wool tops and bottoms to be warm and comfortable.  RedRam dubs their products as "Everyday Merino" and I'd agree with that after spending days in the long sleeve top and leggings.  These are low bulk but high warmth thermal underwear which are easy to clean on a cold wash and hang dry.

Well, that about does it.  Our weather here is finally turning to warm, and likely will stay that way, and most of these items will be packed away until next fall.  Hopefully your spring will arrive soon too.

For full disclosure some of these items I have purchased on my own dime while others were sent by the respective company for demo and review.  Every product mentioned in this post is one that I have been completely impressed with and felt that the T.F.M. readership might appreciate as well. 

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