The year 2020 has felt like some strange time warp, but we don't need a Ned Stark quote to tell you what's coming. Instead, we'll share how we're preparing for it — with a complete list of all the winter gear we're most excited for. Snow squalls and sub-zero temperatures are no match for this new array of Gore-Tex-clad jackets, down-filled pants and so much more. It's enough to get us energized for the flakes to fall in a year when we might otherwise be dreading it.
Faction Agent 3.0
Reacting to the pandemic, many ski resorts have already communicated new rules, including reservations for tickets and limited capacity on chairlifts. Not being able to go on the desired day seems inevitable, which is why it's smart to build a ski kit that works at the resort and in the backcountry. Faction's new Agent is ideal for such a scenario with a versatile construction that can handle all snow conditions and a low weight for when hoofing it is the only option.
The talk of the 2020 OR Snow Show, the Stratos boasts the shape of a directional freerider and the soul of a freestyler. The sidecut and flex provide pop while the Float Pack inserts — extra holes that let you set your bindings way back — keep you flying high when the snow gets deep.
Foehn Robson Down Pant
Sweatpants have had their work-from-home moment, but they can't stand up to bottoms stuffed with premium 800-fill down. If your home is as cold as mine, you can wear these indoors as well as out, and that's exactly what I'll be doing all winter long. Hell, I'd wear these to the office if those were still a thing.
Stanley Titanium Travel Mug
It's pricey, but Stanley's Titanium Travel Mug is also undeniably sleek. It's just the thing for toting hot tea/coffee/Glühwein around when outside temperatures can penetrate any vessel that isn't double-walled and vacuum-sealed. Plus, it's leakproof, so stashing it in a ski pack next to extra layers isn't as nerve-racking as it seems.
Patagonia Descensionist 32L
Speaking of ski packs, Patagonia's freshly updated Descensionist is the one we've got our eye on this winter. The new design features the requisite shovel/probe/snow tool pocket and a roll-top construction, which is handy when you inevitably overpack. There's also a side-access zipper for reaching things at the bottom when there's not enough time (or space on the chairlift) to dig through from the top.
Zeal Beacon Goggles
This product is proof you can innovate without breaking the bank. The 10-degree tilt of the cylindrical lens mimics the physics behind structures like air control towers, cutting glare, boosting vertical peripheral vision and helping you focus on the most important part of any run: the way down.
K2 Maysis Clicker x HB Snowboard Boot and Clicker x HB Step-in Binding
Clicker tech harkens back to the early days of boarding, but K2 has completely revamped it with a new system featuring a highback and toe-heel mounts to better mimic the feel of a classic strap-in set-up. Potential advantages over Burton Step-Ons? K2 Clicker boots can still be used with traditional bindings, and the process of getting in and out may come naturally to cyclists, as it’s somewhat similar to engaging an SPD pedal.
Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Plus Jacket
Gore-Tex's brand-new Pro fabric would be bright enough of a highlight on its own, but Norrona gives it plenty of competition with the rest of the features in this jacket. Chief among them is an additional front zipper that reveals a mesh vent enabling easy access to an avalanche transceiver or anything else you want at hand.
Buff Thermonet Hinged Balaclava
Face coverings appear to be a universal requirement at ski resorts this season, making the release of Buff's new Balaclava ideal timing. The "hinged" part of its name refers to a design that makes it easy to pull up and down over your nose without the whole thing shifting around under a helmet and goggles, which is nice.
MountainFlow Eco-Wax Quick Wax
Not-so-fun fact: petroleum-based ski wax slowly sloughs off into the snowpack, and last year, an estimated 2.5 million pounds wound up in U.S. waterways when the flakes melted. Thankfully, MountainFlow's earth-friendly blend of plant-based waxes and oils rivals the performance of traditional ski wax — we know because we tried it — and costs the same or even less.
Smartwool PhD Pro Freeski Socks
If they're good enough for professional skier Angel Collinson, they're good enough for us.