Beat The Late Winter Cabin Fever Blues.
You have been cooped up all winter and spring is around the corner. Instead of eyeing your snowboard you are checking over your mountain bike.
But wait — there are still a couple of good sized blizzards in the air — and late winter snow sports are the best after the storm BECAUSE, the snow is heavy and deep, perfect for schussing, snowboarding, dog sledding, and cross country skiing; or how about snowshoeing to a backcountry yurt for an overnight bivouac — above with www.yurtski.com
But the days are warmer, longer, and filled with bright sunshine so it probably is t-shirt season for most of us. Great snow, sun, and a tan — a triple combo!
But wait, another great reason for late winter snow sports is because you just received your tax refund and the outdoor gear companies are running specials to clear out the last of the seasonal stock, so read on for some inspirational gear ideas from Columbia Sportswear.
The first things to think about when in the outdoors are your rations — without rations you lose body heat. During the winter your body has a natural low level of neurotransmitters because of the lack of light, especially serotonin, which affects your mood. So get outside for an attitude and altitude change with Columbia’s Wedge Lumbar Pack.
) The pack has a classic shape and contour and the 1.5 inch waist belt has a quick release. The front pocket organizes small items, such as a snow boot wrench, pocket knife, ski wax, or granola bars. The back is made of a soft wicking air mesh so you don’t build up a sweat pool. The back is made of polyester and nylon, and with over 400 cubic inches of space (6.5 liters) there is plenty of room for the brain chemical food you crave, such as sunflower seeds, bananas, figs, turkey or chicken whole wheat sandwiches, or an avocado, or oat and rye trail mix with raisins, all rich in the amino acid tryptophan. Exercise and good food beat any winter blues.
Today’s intelligent outdoors person knows that the late winter sun bouncing off all that bright snow is a factor to contend with — a factor minimized with Columbia’s Omni-Shade shirts and gear with built in ultra violet protection. Columbia’s Screen Team consists of a full line of men’s and women’s UV shirts that range from 30 UPF up to 50 UPF such as the Silver Ridge, Banana, and Goddess shirts. They come in short or long sleeves and are easy to wash so that you can spend more time on the mountain now that you are waking up with Daylight Savings Time that kicked in a month earlier than in 2007.
Because it is late winter you probably can hang up your parka for the season and switch to a lighter Columbia Waypoint Shell or Fleece Jacket that still offers plenty of room for layering, but not so bulky for maneuverability. The shells are made of 55% polyester and 45% recycled polyester Shangri-la. I don’t know what the recycled portion does, but it is heaven, and the sportswear giant has taken a giant leap into going “green”, so that is a big plus for me. The shell’s rip-stop fabric is vented under the arms making a great choice for prevention of spring skiing over heating. And there is an attached hood in case you stumble into a snow, sleet, and grabble squall.
Columbia also makes Waypoint Pants so you can create a complete colorful outfit. The pants are constructed of the same material as the shells, and are light weight with zip close pockets — we know you are a mogul maven, so the car keys are secure during any tumble dry dives on the slope.
Columbia Sportswear makes many other Waypoint products, such as fleeces, soft shells, and jackets. For haute couture, nothing is hotter or cooler than a Columbia Sportswear wardrobe.
The Mountain Tech short or long sleeve tees by Columbia are superbly crafted and colorful. They make for the perfect undergarment because they are quick drying, wickable, and anti-microbiotic The fabric is 100% polyester Omni Dry Mountain material To me they are more like a jersey than a tee and I like the names of the solid colors, too, like sumac, night train, fossil, and limestone. Okay, I am skiing down to my skivvies in a Columbia Sunset T, but no one notices because I am in the most fashionable underwear at the resort!
Columbia’s Trail Grinder T’s are not just for the extreme hard cores that show up on every mountain top. They have the same wicking, drying, and anti microbe capabilities as the standard Ts do, but they are made from something called Omni Dry Tech Knit Pique. I think the Columbia designers stand around the water cooler to see who can out do each other with alliterations. But literary, these are cool shirts made of 100% polyester. In the past I avoided polyester because when it became wet with sweat it itched. Try scratching three layers down while on a slope and you would avoid polyester too, but with the new high tech weaving and wicking polyester has become as smooth as silk.
Columbia’s Trekking Titanium shirts are lightweight, easy to pack, and they are form fitting. Often with the delightful spring skiing season we overlook the fact that we are actually sweating on the chairlift, but with this unique line of techy shirts the quick wicking and venting prevents heat build up and foul smelling absorption. The multi functional pockets are handy and easy to access.
Columbia’s lines of cargo pants — they have more than one line – are chic and fashionable – and the relaxed fit make you look celeb on the slopes and in the mountain town bars and lounges. They are constructed of 100% nylon Omni Dry Minim Rip — which is a classy way to say they are ultra-durable. The pants have an interior draw cord, interior mesh brief, and back zip closed security pocket. The pants are also light weight and easy to wash, which is always a plus now that many European airlines are restricting baggage weights.
How about some alpine heli-skiing?
Spring doesn’t arrive into the high nooks and crannies and cirques of the Canadian Rockies until late May, so you have plenty of time to wait for that rebate check from GWB’s admin and unfold your ski map to check out where to head to next.
A good pair of Titanium Boots from Columbia is just the fit and just the ticket to get you to the lodge and out the backdoor and into the high country. But when ordering your boots get the Bugastorm 3-Pair Pack (Silver/Treasure) over-the-calf length socks, which are ightweight with selective cushioning. Arch support in the sole. Non-itch material that’s warm and breathable. 73% Merino wool, 26% nylon, 1% Lycra spandex.
First let me fill you in about the Columbia Pagora boots that fit like a new skin. I didn’t even have to break them in. The Pagoras are so supple that they actually seem to have lungs that breathe. The front flap mesh is breathable, and the cutout design is more like a moccasin meets trail sandal. The Pagoras are best for spring trail hiking than for deep snow plowing but they grip in the snow and slush just dandy. During the spring many of the lodge areas are seeping with mud, so these mud puppies deliver you in style, and they wash and dry fast.
(Titanium Ice Dragon boot, right.) For off trail piste situations I can switch to the high ankle Titanium Boots. Any active outdoors enthusiast probably remembers the days when the inner boot lining became over heated with sweat and then was damp and musty and miserable. If the boots are miserable the body is miserable and that makes for a mountain vacation from hell.
Columbia’s active footwear designers have come up with a material that they call AGION and I don’t know eactly what it is, but check it out at www.starensier.com, but I call it “wet be gone” because the form fitting lining doesn’t tear loose from the boot because it is actually fused into the boot. There is no removable lining whatsoever!
(Titanium Ice Field boot, left.) Columbia’s Techlite registered brand of materials is “engineered specifically to provide superior comfort and cushioning for outdoor footwear. The durable, impact absorbing material delivers consistent support in a lightweight package to keep feet protected and comfortable. Techlite is also easy caring (cleans up with soap and water) and non marking and odor resistant and easier on the environment.”
Finally, the green boot has arrived with my light weight and breathable Omni Tech Titanium yellow (Sulphur) boots. The impact absorption materials provides key protection to more foot pressure points, and the injection molded EVA evenly distributes body weight. The upper sole is fully Strobel stitched for minimum weight and maximum flexibility.
(Titanium Diablo Pass Hiking Boot, right.) My complaint about mountain boots in the past was all the weight I was lugging that made me unduly tired on the trail. Not so with the Titaniums. The molded nylon shank is light weight but still provides torsion rigidity and support, while the outer sole is an Omni-Grip rubber compound that is non marking with a multi-directional tread. Remember the days when those lug soles were packed with mud or frozen snow so you actual were lugging around an extra pound or two on each step? The Columbia’s Omni-Grip, which is patented, avoids the extra intensive labor of hiking through the winter woods.
(Titanium Karasi Trail Shoe, left.) Omni means everywhere, and Columbia incorporate the Omni Tech design into everything everywhere it can on the Titanium boots, including the washable and breathable suede and mesh area of the forefoot, that is supported by a durable synthetic frame, making it featherweight light. The metal D rings hold the forefoot in place and the eyes make the boots easy to lace, but remain tight because of the lightweight shoestrings that tend to grip.
(Titanium Zephyr XCR Trail Running Shoe, right.) You will find all of the above ingredients and materials in most Columbia hiking boots, but the Titanium boots go one step farther — no pun intended. The uppers are Nubeck with high abrasion synthetic overlaps and scratch rubber toe cap. The foot bed is a Contour Comfort registered trademark, which means it is 3D, holding your foot in place, but with flexible support. The insole is injected full length with a polypropylene lasting board. The mid-sole is poured PU with a metal shank. The outer sole is a Vibram rubber material.
Columbia’s Titanium boots make the grade — gradients in the high country or après gradients on the footstool before the resort fireplace! But winter doesn’t have to end here, because Columbia also makes great fishing boots and apparel and gear and seasonal spring and summer apparel, but I will talk later about that after my hot Brandy Alexander arrives by the fireplace. Cheers to late winter snow sports and Columbia for making life comfortable. For more excellent Columbia boots and shoes, click the banner below.
— Gear review by Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.