It’s late November and December is creeping up fast. The temperatures are dropping and everytime it rains, it’s a rainy slushy mix that is worse than either rain or snow. Be prepared when you step outside this season with the proper cold weather clothing and footwear. Are you looking for a Christmas gift for the outdoorsman of your life. We have put together a list of quality outdoor clothing and footwear that we have tested and approve of to help you with your shopping.
Black Diamond First Light Hoody – I’ve been wearing the Black Diamond First Light Hoody for a few weeks now off and on depending on the weather. As most of you know Black Diamond makes some quality gear and clothing for those living an outdoor lifestyle. The Black Diamond name is quite popular among those that rock climb, rappel, ski and snowboard. They are at the top of the food chain for their industry. This jacket is a no frills, simple yet durable piece of clothing. The jacket does have somewhat of an athletic fit to it which I really like. That translates into less bulk making it more streamlined for rock climbing or running and gunning on the range. I recently had it outdoors during a cooler fall day. The air temperature was hovering around 40 with sporadic rain and 20 mph wind gusts. The First Light Hoody kept me protected from the elements and warm.
TRU-SPEC H2O Proof Jacket – It’s cooling off outside in most of the northern US as fall is upon us and winter is fast approaching. In these “fringe” months, it can be 38F and drizzling in the morning yet clear up and reach temps in the upper 60’s by afternoon. The challenge is leaving the house with the right jacket on. In these dynamic conditions, you are literally covered with the new Tru-Spec H2O Proof jacket. 2 main components comprise the H2O Proof 3 in 1 Jacket. A waterproof outer shell along with an insulating inner liner. In snotty weather, saying dry is the key to maintaining warmth. And with a 2-layer waterproof breathable outer shell, this is easily achieved. I’ve been an avid skier for more than 40 years which makes me old and wise. Because of this, I’ve owned jackets consisting of the all the waterproof fabrics on the market from various manufacturers. I have found that most jackets fail to maintain their waterproofness due to seam failure. To combat this common problem, Tru-Spec utilizes an environmentally safe Bemis seam tape on all panel joints.
Walls Outdoor Kevlar Shirt Jacket – Walls Outdoor Goods, is a company which specializes in working apparel. Functional, while tough seems to be the underlying theme behind their collections. Walls Outdoor Goods offer a broad range of products which can accommodate almost anyones needs; hunting, ranching, construction, camp-work, logging, hiking, etc. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the yet to be released, Kevlar Shirt Jacket (Fall 2016 release). This jacket wears like a shirt, but has the warmth of a jacket. According to Walls Outdoor Goods, “this line features 10-ounce brushed duck and Kevlar blend and a double needle diamond-quilt winning with six ounces of synthetic insulation.” The jacket has a collar like a shirt, and uses snaps up the front to close it. There are two lower front pockets which offer two options; a fleece lined hand pocket, or a velcro closure on the top. There is one additional zippered front pocket on the exterior. Internal there are two pocket options; one zippered, and one velcro. These internal pockets are perfect for your wallet/phone.
Black Diamond Gloves – Depending on how serious of an outdoor shooter you are in the colder winter months, you may want to have a few different types of gloves for different temperature variations. For this article we are going to look at a quality glove that will cover the needs of most outdoor shooters and enthusiasts. That glove is the Black Diamond Midweight Softshell. With the Black Diamond Midweight Softshell glove I’m able to get a positive grip on my Glock 17, work the trigger and magazine release with no issues or malfunctions.
Mechanix Winter Armor Gloves – Mechanix Wear Winter Armor gloves feature a wind-resistant nylon outer shell with C40 3M Thinsulate insulation to trap warm air and regulate your body temperature. Cold air can make even the simplest task more burdensome as your dexterity deteriorates, so Mechanix Wear utilized EVA foam padding to safeguard your knuckles, index, and middle finger from unexpected impact and abrasion during cold-weather work. These gloves also feature AX Double Connect on the index finger and thumb, so you can stay connected to your touchscreen devices without removing your gloves. The palm of this glove features double-stitched, water-resistant grip panels, making the Winter Armor gloves an essential tool for cold, damp conditions. These are by far superior to the military issued leather gloves with wool-liner inserts! I own and have used these gloves for the past two winter season, going into a third. These are hands-down the best gloves out there for outdoor winter/cold weather use. They provide much greater dexterity than other winter gloves on the market. Your first defense against the cold weather is the clothing you wear on your body, and that includes the gloves you wear on your hands!
Black Diamond Beanie – I’ve worn several different brands of beanies over the years; everything from polyester, synthetic, cotton, fleece and wool. The material I have found to work best is wool, whether that is 100% wool or a Merino wool. Merino wool tends to be more comfortable (less itchy). The nice thing about wool is that it can get soaking wet and still keep the temperature of your head regulated. The beanie that I have found to be the most comfortable and able to keep my head insulated in cold/wet weather conditions is the Black Diamond Torre Wool Beanie. The Torre Wool Beanie is made of 50% acrylic and 50% merino wool. By using these materials the beanie has a nice slim fit, yet is not too tight. It also works well under a helmet for skiing or with ear-pro for shooting in cold weather. Head on over to the Black Diamond website and stock up on your cold weather clothing for this season.
Vasque Cold Spark Winter Hiking Boots – Winter is upon us and that means cold, wet and snowy conditions. If you’re like me, you don’t let the weather conditions stop you from enjoying the outdoors. I really enjoy winter day hikes. The scenery is beautiful, it’s generally pretty quiet and there are no damn bugs out flying around. You do however need to adjust your kit for the changing climate. One of the pieces of gear that should be at the forefront of your mind is footwear. Without the proper footwear you risk serious injury. In the winter months keeping your feet dry and warm are that much more important. Hiking through snow and ice will make the exterior of your boots wet. Your boots need to be waterproof to keep this moisture at bay in order to preserve your feet. The boots need to also have the ability to keep your feet warm, but not too hot if you’re outdoors for a long period of time. Finding a boot that is comfortable, waterproof and keeps your feet dry can be tough sometimes. The boots need to be able to regulate the micro climate they create inside the boot for your feet. The boots That I have found to do this best are the Vasque Cold Spark winter hiking boots.
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boots – Today we are bringing you a first look at one of the best selling hiking boots on the market today, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid. More than 90 years ago Lowa Boots began manufacturing their boots by hand in Europe, a tradition they still proudly maintain to this day. The company also proudly holds the distinction of being the only boot-maker to have their boots 100% designed, sourced, and built entirely in Europe. I have tried many of the popular hiking boot brands over the years, Asolo, Merrill, Keen, and Danner to name a few. The Lowa Renegade GTX has helped me to thin my collection of hiking boots considerably. While wearing the Renegade GTX I have yet to have to endure the frustration and discomfort of any noticeable breaking in period. This is a pleasant change from other brands I’ve previously used. These boots are listed as a mid height boot, but they are higher than other boots I have tried, such as the Asolo Fugitive GTX.
Wigwam Wool Socks – Imagine this…. You spent all day on the trail and have just woken up from your first night of sleep. You poke your head out of your $500 down sleeping bag. It’s rainy and cold. Good thing you have your $600 tent, $500 jacket and pants. You get dressed, then before slipping on your $200 pair of boots, you reach to the bottom of your bag for a pair of cheap $2.50 cotton athletic socks. Cotton athletic socks? Not bad for basketball or lounging around the house, but this is adventure, and cotton doesn’t cut it. Because the condition of your feet is so closely tied to your overall comfort in the wilderness it only makes sense to spend the extra money on a pair of good socks. But what constitutes a good pair of hiking or running socks? In the past I’ve been a big SmartWool fan when it comes to trail running and hiking. Recently, I had the opportunity to try out several different styles of the Wigwam Ultimax socks. From the moment I slipped these socks on I noticed a huge difference is comfort compared to other brands I’ve used.
FITs Wool Socks – Most people out there living an active lifestyle whether that is shooting, hiking, running, or backpacking will not argue the fact about wearing wool socks. I’ve been through a few different brands of wool socks over the years and have my opinions. Enter the FITS Tactical Crew socks. I’ve been wearing these socks for a few months now almost every day. I have yet to wear a hole into the heel and they do not slide at all when kicking your shoes off. Worth mentioning is that my feet don’t get overly hot wearing the FITS wool socks for long periods of time. They fit pretty snug at first, but as you wear them, they become more comfortable (like breaking in a new pair of shoes). Oh and let’s not forget that they are made in the good ole USA.
Nikwax Hardshell DuoPack – It’s that time of year where we start breaking out the cold weather clothing. The fall season can be unpredictable bringing rain and cooler temperatures. This is also the time of year for bonfires and hanging out outside with family and friends. All that smoke from the fire can certainly permeate your outer shell and clothing. Sometimes that outer shell can cause you to perspire resulting in a not so pleasant smell when you get home and take your jacket off. I have several jackets I use depending on the weather forecast and activity I plan on taking part in. I’ve either just let the jackets air out in hopes that will get rid of the sweaty smoky smells or used standard clothing detergent to wash them. Nikwax offers two products to help wash your outer shells/jackets and restore the water repellency to them (something that standard detergent won’t do). If you’ve spent your hard-earned money on a nice outer shell or jacket that provides protection from the elements, then you should care for that product so that it lasts you as long as possible and continues to perform as it did on the day you got it.
The Hardshell DuoPack from Nikwax gives you that one-two punch.