Whether you're schussing down the slopes this year at Hunter, Stowe, Aspen or Gstaad, you'll need gear that's equal parts glam and high tech. Feeling comfy - and not being mistaken for the Michelin Man - wouldn't be bad, either.
Packing the right wardrobe has gotten easier, thanks to the Web sites of leading brrr-weather brands. Like The North Face (thenorthface.com), which offers snow reports for resorts across the country. Or Patagonia (patagonia.com), detailing the eco-benefits of fabrics (such as hemp or recycled poly). And though Marmot's gear-reviewing "Athlete Team" (marmot.com) isn't exactly unbiased, it's helpful to click on a video and see mountaineer Pete Takeda hanging off a cliff in the Alpinist Jacket, or ski guide Heather Paul praising the wicking ability of the Randonnee glove.
"For three days, I've been able to hike and ski down in the same gloves," says Paul, seen on a steep Japanese slope. "A nice little nose-wipe here," she adds, demonstrating the patch of soft fabric to wipe a runny nose.
We nosed around, too, culling some of our favorite gear. It's all downhill from here.
Buns of steel (sort of)
It's been used to protect skiers' butts, polo players' shins, ballerinas' toes - and it soon may be used by British troops to stop bullets.
The "it" is d3o (that's little "d"-3-little "o"), a "smart" substance that starts out as gooey orange jell, but hardens on impact, its molecules locking together to absorb shocks. Created by British engineer Richard Palmer, d3o started showing up in products in 2005, and last year, the Brit government enlisted the company to develop a bullet-thwarting helmet.
Used in small batches by snow-wear brands such as The North Face, Spyder and Sessions, the pliable orange padding is now used in R.E.D.'s Total Impact Short, pictured, to protect the hips, legs and tailbones of men, women and kids; $84.95 to $89.95 at burton.com.