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What We Ran at the ‘Bird

What We Ran Snowbird Ski Test 2015

Cool thing about ski testing? We get to try even more gear. Here’s what we called in for review.

Flylow Higgins & Vixen Jackets

The Claim: Three-layer soft shell jackets that won’t succumb to weather or zero out your bank balance.

The Verdict: Thanks for keeping it real, Flylow. Waterproof/breathable nylon burnished with a DWR treatment keeps precipitation at bay. Taped seams, waterproof zippers, and helmet-compatible hoods add extra protection against the elements. The Higgins also offers pit zips for human-powered endeavors. The skiers behind this brand know how to build gear that lasts. $300; flylowgear.com

Giro Discord Helmet

The Claim: The Discord uses vinyl nitrile, a closed-cell foam that can absorb multiple impacts and rebound to full strength after each hit.

The Verdict: Flex and bend the Discord with your bare hands, and the helmet returns to its proper shape. The same thing happens when head meets a hard surface. The Soft Shell Construction cushions the blow and withstands multiple hits. The result? A safer, more durable helmet. $160; giro.com

Giro Onset Goggles

The Claim: Expansion View technology promises less frame and more lens for better peripheral vision.

The Verdict: A wider view and a crisp Carl Zeiss lens let us track the whereabouts of resort yellowjackets and spot approaching hazards sooner. $150; giro.com

SmartWool NTS Mid and Light Baselayers

The Claim: SmartWool’s snow-specific layers use heavier yarns for extra warmth. And they tout merino’s wicking properties and next-to-skin feel above other textiles.

The Verdict: The thick weave of the men’s Mid 250 Zip T and the women’s Mid 250 Funnel Zip T—which features an extra-high neck—kept winter chills at bay. Both feature offset shoulder seams for backpack compatibility. And the thinner merino application in the Light 195 Boot Top bottoms made them versatile enough for spring skiing. From $100 (tops) and $80 (bottoms); smartwool.com

Stio Basis Power Dry Shirt & Henley 

The Claim: Stio uses Polartec Power Dry because the wool-polyester blend wicks moisture, fights off body odor, and dries quickly.

The Verdict: Use the men’s (a collared button-down) and women’s (scoop-necked, long-sleeved) versions as stylish midlayers on the hill, and then show up at après looking good. $145 (shirt) and $115 (henley); stio.com

FITS Ultra Light OTC Ski Sock

The Claim: Patented designs for the toe cup and heel eliminate bunching in ski boots, while a graded fit keeps fine merino in place on the calf.

The Verdict: Patenting sock technology sounds like overkill—until you pull a FITS over your foot and marvel at the contoured fit. Everything stays exactly in place. They’re still the best ski socks we’ve ever used. $20; fitssock.com

Big Truck Hats

The Claim: Fly head gear, assembled in Tahoe.

The Verdict: Oh yeah. From $27; bigtruckbrand.com

Klean Kanteen Vacuum Insulated To-Go Mug

The Claim: Double-wall vacuum insulation means liquids stay hot for six hours—or cold for 24.

The Verdict: Go with the leak-proof sport cap for the 12-ounce bottle. Didn’t finish your coffee in the car? Just slip the canteen in a pack for a hot drink on the chair lift—or at lunch. It keeps. $25; kleankanteen.com

Avex Insulated Brazos Autoseal Water Bottle 

The Claim: Just press a button when you need a drink, and release to engage the autoseal. Only one hand required.

The Verdict: No-hassle hydration—say goodbye to the days of juggling a cap on the chairlift. BPA-free. $20; avexsport.com


The Claim: Real food—not lab byproducts—and they say it’s delicious and healthy.

The Verdict: Each 1.7-ounce bar delivers 160 calories, less than 19 grams of sugar, and visual evidence of real berries and seeds. We favored the cherry and cran-raspberry flavors. $18 for a 12-pack; theprobar.com

From the Early Winter 2014 issue. Back to the 2015 ski test and buyer’s guide.

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