Best cold weather gear
Unless you're kitted out for a Siberian winter, you could be in for a shock; a cold snap from northern Russia is forecast. No better excuse, then, to get kitted-out for winter, and there's no better way of getting kitted-out for winter than in true tech style.
We've been following the seasons on Pocket-lint with the best examples of clothing made of the kind of fibres and materials that several teams' worth of boffins went through 8,000 cups of coffee and three times that number of non-funny jokes to invent. If you're looking to stay toasty this Christmas, then here's the best cold weather gear around.
Billabong New Rasta hoody (£69.99)
Designed to be swung on after a dip by hip young surfers who spend too much money on clothes, Billabong's fleece-lined Rasta hoody is just as effective for chilly land-lubbers. The double-pocket on the front is best avoided if you want the Rasta to keep its shape, but elsewhere it's nicely proportioned.
Loosely elasticated cuffs and waist keep the chill out, while the fluffy, fleece-lined hood is a thing of winter wonder. In extreme chills, it's best worn over a base layer and under rain wear, but fast becomes the kind of thing that's hard to leave at home whatever the weather. You might even get a hug from the PM.
Icebreaker Cascade Full Zip for women (£130)
Ah, merino wool. The miracle baselayer for cold weather – and not bad in the 40-degree heat, either – is much copied, but Icebreaker is the brand we like best. Snug is the word for the Icebreaker Cascade, a full zipped fleece for women that’s one of the lightest ways to keep warm. Banishing the bulk and therefore much easier to carry than plump (albeit much cheaper) nylon fleeces, the Cascade’s Realfleece merino fabric is a great natural alternative and soft … so soft.
Available in blue, grey, black and red, the Cascade comes with zipped hand pockets, a chin protector, and a small pocket on one left arm sleeve – ideal for stashing 10p for an emergency phone call. Oh, wait, it's 2001, try your headphones.
Cushe After Ride boots (£129.99)
Spend time around hikers and their footwear, and before long you'll notice that almost every single boot features a Vibram sole. And that's also the case on these Cushe's, which double as waterproof boots despite a suede outer.
Memory foam also makes an appearance in the boot, though in practice we didn't notice anything moulding to our size 11s though they proved incredibly comfy. A high-end choice for sure, the After Ride boots proved effective at keeping our feet dry and warm – and that sheepskin inner, complete with drawstring closures, keeps them from rubbing.
Craghoppers Tuson Jacket (£137)
Forget layering; one of the most effective ways of keeping the cold out is to don a lumpy jacket like the Craghoppers Tuson. Down is shoved into small compartments that, over time, do have a tendency to firm-up and make the jacket lose its shape. Only time will tell if that's the case here, but for now it's a super-snug option whose high collar forgoes the need for a scarf.
Although a padded hood wouldn't go amiss, we're placated by sleeves with snug cuffs that make sure there's no chance of wind whistling in between gloves and coat. Worn over the course of a cold, incessantly wet day in Wales, the Tuson proved water-proof enough and dried-off quickly after being left in a puddle (whoops!). As a bonus the entire Tuson can be stowed in its own full-length pocket to form a small pillow.
Berghaus Ignite Hoody & Hat (£99 & £25.99)
A great double-act on the mountain side and outdoors generally are the Ignite Hoody and Ignite Hat from Berghaus. Made partially from super-lightweight Pertex material and a cosy fit, the Hoody behaves more like a coat than its name suggests – though it's shorter, so easier to stash in its included mesh stuff sack. Stunningly warm considering its size and (lack of) bulk, the hood is also a snug fit, and fully adjustable to keep the chill out.
The Ignite Hoody is sold in red, blue and black. You'll need other layers. However, it's the ear flaps on the hat we liked best while out in the bleak Brecon Beacons. We're talking a technical fit that's the wise man's (or woman's) alternative to those awful Davy Crockett-style bonce-boilers.
Falke Men's Cosyshoe (£19.95)
Renounce your manhood, one and all; embrace the ultimate slipper-sock that is the all-new Cosyshoe. On sale now from Falke, the Cosyshoe is the latest use found for the wonder-fabric that is merino wool.
It's firmly on the sock side of the fence, though the under-sole grip is adept at keeping you safe during those traditional indoor winter activities – such as fetching the remote control from the other side of a plasma TV-heated living room. Perfect for the ski lodge, too, the Cosyshoe comes in black, red or blue.
Teva Vero Boot WP women's snow boots (£116.99)
With the first fall of snow, it’s time to get those kinky boots on, girls – so how about the White Spider Rubber soles of the Teva Vero? About as even a match as you'll ever get between style and function when it comes to technology material outdoor gear, they're a decent purchase even over the £100 mark.
Teva’s Vero snow boots are fashioned from fully waterproof leather yet retain a lightweight look and feel. In our test they tackled some icy paths with ease, and survived showers, though they’re strictly for outdoors only – worn inside they quickly overheat.
Sidas Drywarmer boot-warmers (£17)
Whether you come back from a day's walking with sodden boots or you're nervous about venturing into the snow, these handy boot warmers are the ultimate in polar pampering. Pocket-sized and easily packable, this box of two warmers are best left in your boots overnight, though they're just as effective in heavy winter gloves.
These boot-warmers even offer antibacterial UV action that kills your feet bacteria – or the germs from your mitts hands, for that matter – to keep shoes/gloves less smelly. Just one reason why these should be compulsory in large ski lodges.
Keen Revel insulated boots (£102)
Big, insulated boots are what you need when the weather takes a turn and the frosts turn to icy mornings. Also the first extremities to freeze, toes are kept warm, and, just as importantly, dry by Keen's Revel boots. Feeling solid and sturdy, yet comfortable immediately they adorned our feet, the Revels proved especially good at gripping a normally treacherous pathway, while the underfoot warming system – think roof insulation and you're close – keeps the cold out.
There's even some charcoal bamboo in the mix alongside a heat-trapping honeycomb design and woolen felt layer. They also use waterproof nubuck leather, a breathable fabric in the tongue, and razor-slim lugs on the sole to grip in all kinds of weather. Available in men's and women's sizes, this is one for serious walkers and snow-bound travellers.
Mizuno Leg Tights & Long Sleeve Shirt (£36 & £45)
Attention all runners. It's nippy out there on your daily run, innit? Ditch that t-shirt and shorts combo in favour of the thermo tech in Mizuno's new tops and tights. The Mizuno L/S 1/2 Zip Stretch Combo Shirt in black, yellow or green keeps you warn and dry. Its Breath Thermo yarn generates heat as it expands. It's comfy and figure-hugging without being, err, inappropriate, and kept us warm on our daily post-frost jaunt around the local park.
We did get a little overheated towards the end, with the half-zip proving handy for letting off steam. Not so the Mizuno Breathe Thermo Bio Leg Tights which are essentially running tights with inserts around the knee joint to keep warmth in.
Plain Gorgeous Travelwrap (£199)
Would she rather freeze than don a smelly fleece? Cast aside thoughts of £20 slankets and instead consider this little slice of luxury. Made of two-ply Scottish cashmere wool by The Travelwrap Company and exceptionally comfy next to the skin, this super-soft 180 x 90cm wrap comes beautifully boxed (gift-wrapping possible, too).
Ideal for chilly mornings, it packs into a 25 x 25cm linen bag for easy travel. Importantly, of course, it also looks rather fetching too. Best accessorized with steaming cup of cocoa, morning mists and a wistful look in the eyes.