SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Columbia Sportswear’s Accessories for your Extremities

Gathering Storm Short Glove: Hand Picked Warmth

Columbia’s glove line is quite expansive: from thin fleece liners perfect for trail running to their award-winning beefy, weather-resistant Bugaglove Max Electric. But most of the time, the world outside your front door requires a glove that is right in the middle; a glove that helps you meet your outdoor objective while offering function and freedom to move. The Gathering Storm Short is that glove.

Small and light, the Gathering Storm offers a functional fit. This means you won’t have to pull the glove off at the side of the trail to tie your boots, attend to your binding, or deploy the heel-lift when the going gets vertical. It also means your hands won’t feel the biting chill of a cold day.

Columbia put some time and effort into this glove. Their attention to detail on the construction makes you think Columbia designers really understand the needs of their customers. The outside of the glove is waterproofed using an Outdry membrane that is attached directly to the exterior of the glove. A 2 ½ inch neoprene cuff keeps snow out and slips nicely under your jacket. There’s no fuss or having to ask your partner to pull on the sleeve of the arm you’ve extended his way. A supple yet grippy material lines the palm, providing the dexterity to grab and the added might to hang on.

Despite the glove’s low profile, the Gathering Storm Short is warm and stays warm. Insulation and Omni-Heat technology, Columbia’s characteristic silver dots, make this glove extremely toasty and the one you want during a blizzard or when temps fall to freezing. This is also a drawback: if you’re looking for just one glove to go anywhere, anytime, you might want to consider owning two pairs. The Gathering Storm is for cold adventures and works well for snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding. One of Columbia’s other options might fill the gap for that sunny spring day that hasn’t quite shaken winter.

The other drawback is the price: these gloves retail for $110 (women’s; men’s is $115). But if you’re looking to invest in a low-bulk, functional, insulated glove with the quality to keep you warm over several seasons, you should consider the Gathering Storm Short.

To purchase the Gathering Storm Glove (women’s), click here. To purchase the Gathering Storm Glove (men’s), click here.

Power Summit Beanie: Are all Beanie’s created equal?

Columbia’s Powder Summit Beanie is a little different. First, think of this beanie’s application as a base layer rather than merely a hat for warmth. A layering option that works well under things, like your bike or ski helmet, and looks good enough alone to wear it on its own, like when you’re heading to your local brewpub for a burger and a beer.

Another point: the Powder Summit Beanie features the same technology Columbia uses in its apparel such as those signature reflective silver dots (Omni-Heat) and their water-phobic Omni-Shield. Flat seams don’t chaff and a double layer at the base of the beanie provides extra warmth across the forehead and ears.

Finally, the women’s version offers the same technology and trim design with the added feature of an adjustable ponytail hole.

I asked my partner Scott to test the beanie on an early season backcountry ski in Southern California’s San Gorgonio Wilderness. His route: ascend a shaded canyon to a ridge for a look at the snowpack in the upper elevations. In short, a three-mile slog with 2,000 feet in elevation gain. He took the Powder Summit Beanie along and, despite his hard work, wore it the entire time. “It ventilated well and the fit was snug,” he said. He liked that it stayed in place, was slim and, if he wanted, stowed easily in a jacket pocket without feeling bulky or getting in the way of his movements. And while Scott could care less about fashion, he does like to look good: he’s worn the Powder Summit Beanie all over town.

So, are all beanies created equal? Perhaps a silly question but the answer is no.

Bugaboo Omni-Heat Ski Sock: The Joy of Socks

In the past my sock drawer was divided based on use. Like work socks versus weekend socks, and hiking socks versus ski socks. And then the lines started to blur. At some point I decided size small men’s dress socks functioned well enough to replace my work, hiking, and skiing socks while my thick wool hiking and skiing socks became my winter-weekend-on-the-couch-with-a-good-book sock. I made that swap before I knew sock manufacturers had stepped it up to produce products that were equal in sophistication as other technical outdoor apparel. But that was then and this is now.

I deem a sock good, regardless of intended purpose, if it is comfortable, provides arch support, uses high quality materials, employs reinforced construction, has wicking properties, and regulates heat. Especially that last one: hot feet suck.

The desire to wear a sock that is comfortable is rooted in my need to feel forever barefoot. It is my guiding principle when it comes to sock purchases. In fact, over the last couple of years, since the whole men’s dress sock experiment (in my defense: I read somewhere this was the thing to do), I’ve become a bit of a sock connoisseur. So when Columbia asked me to review the Women’s Bugaboo Omni-Heat Ski sock, I was more than happy to give them a try.

The first thing I noticed when I slipped these on: the socks are soft. The feel and texture is like cashmere only these are made from a mix of Merino wool, acrylic, nylon, polyester and elastane to hold their shape. They slipped smoothly in place as I donned boots for a mid-morning ski. No tugging at my toes or pulling at my heel.

They have a trim profile. This is important to me for two reasons: (1) remember, my old go-to for skiing was a size small nylon men’s dress sock; and (2) because I used to wear men’s dress socks my ski boots are dialed to fit my foot with not much in between it and the insulation. I am happy to report the Bugaboo’s have the silhouette of a men’s dress sock.

When I ski, my feet are always cold. Could it be my old standard for ski socks? Perhaps, but it is more likely that they are encased a tight plastic shell for performance-based turning. The Bugaboo’s felt velvety-warm as I loaded the chairlift. Though temps were mild, hovering near 28 degrees most of the day, the winds were brutal during rides to the top and on certain aspects. But, lucky for me, the Bugaboo comes with Columbia’s proprietary silver dots, or Omni-Heat technology. The strategically-place dots – in the toe box and across the shin – maintain warmth via thermal reflectivity. It worked: my feet never felt cold or hot and remained perfectly warm.

The fit: impressive after a half day on the slopes. Like most people I hate when the heel pocket of a sock rides up or the sock slides down and bunches across the shin. The ankle material has some flex that helps keep the sock in place. Likewise, the built-in arch support delivers noticeable reinforcement while helping to maintain positioning inside the boot.

Another confession: I’m a sweaty girl. I appreciated Columbia’s inclusion of their Omni-Wick technology, which, according to Columbia, spreads moisture from highly-physical activities across the surface of the sock for fast evaporation and heat regulation. My feet stayed dry and, because of fit, I noticed I didn’t chafe in areas such as the shin or the top of the foot.

A few other features I liked was their solid construction – felt like these socks would last a few seasons without getting scratchy or holey – and added padding at the shin. The socks rocked and have since held up to numerous washings and ten digits worth of punishing snowshoes.

To purchase the Bugaboo Omni-Heat Ski Sock (women’s), click here. To purchase the Bugaboo Omni-Heat Ski Sock (men’s), click here.

For more information Columbia Sportswear, visit http://www.columbia.com.

This entry was posted in Accessories, Gear Reviews, Gloves, Socks by Cathleen Calkins. Bookmark the permalink.
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About Cathleen Calkins

Cathleen Calkins is a California-based writer and award-winning photographer. After 15 years in the corporate arena, she opts for the quiet of her office and works with national consumer and trade magazines, newspapers, online publications and custom print and web advertorial communications. Her specialties include adventure, sustainability, travel, health, fitness, lifestyle, tourism, and branding.

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