Learning to help your kids love winter is a snap when they’re wearing the right apparel. We love this jacket as it allows you to outfit your teen with a highly functional piece that survives the fashion crucible without costing a fortune. The Iconic Jacket is sized to fit girls up to the age of 18, with a slight shape (no slacker look here) and flattering, longer waist. The waterproof/breathable jacket held up to storm days on Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor, when winds reached 40 and temps plummeted to single digits. Our tester, a respected junior alpine racer, raved about the warmth, suppleness, and fit of the Iconic—the coat moved with her, whether she was running gates or hiking the Cone. Obermeyer, one of the most respected brands in ski apparel, was founded in 1947 in Aspen, Colorado, by Klaus Obermeyer, who at 93 is still leading the company. The brand specializes in high-end but fairly-priced mountain apparel—and is one of the few brands that serve youth and teens with equal seriousness as men and women. The Iconic really mimics its name with a classic, feminine shape that never goes out of style. Inside the jacket’s clean lines and longer silhouette you’ll find 140 grams of warm Permaloft insulation in the body and 100 grams in the sleeves to provide warmth without bulk. The exterior is a striped jacquard made of a polyester/CD polyester print with HydroBlock V (Obermeyer’s proprietary microporous waterproofing). Obermeyer’s CZV, a control zone ventilation system, maintains warmth, but breathes and wicks moisture, so there’s no wetness, even on crazy pow days. As with all youth and teen Obermeyer products, the Iconic jacket uses the company’s innovative EWS (extended wear system) to maximize wear time—meaning the jacket will last several seasons, not just several runs.
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If you invest in one piece of alpine ski gear this season, consider new boots. We’ve tested literally dozens of women-specific alpine ski boots, and Salomon’s Instinct became our favorite due to its excellent power transfer and pain-free ride. The boot helped us float through heavy Oregon powder, and then transition to hard-pack groomers. It is designed for front-side carving, with an extraordinary nimbleness and control. You quickly notice that turning is easier as the boot has amazing sensitivity—almost as if it were reacting to your thoughts; it’s easy to see why they named these boots “Instinct.” It combines the performance of a World Cup racing boot with all-day comfort, which is saying a lot if you’ve ever skied in WC boots before. Credit the heat-customizable PU shell (with the same World Cup technology used in race boots, designed to expand precisely to the width of your foot for optimal fit and performance), and a heat-customizable liner that conforms to your foot. The liner is warm and cradles your foot with no sloppy dead space. This four-buckle boot comes in three flex patterns, 70, 90, and 100. We like the 100 flex for aggressive “expert” skiers, but if you’re under 120 pounds and a beginning or intermediate skier, definitely go with the softer 70 or 90 which will allow you to get more out of the boot, so that you’re flexing your ankles to initiate turns. The cuffs are designed for a woman’s calves, with padding that is soft and comfortable without being squishy. Extra control is via a Velcro power strap that cranks in the fit and locks your foot into a forward, aggressive position to help keep you out of the back seat, with your weight on the balls of your feet where it belongs.
www.eddiebauer.com/EB/First-Ascent, 15 ounces
For many apparel manufacturers, “women-specific” often means that they shrink the length, narrow the shoulders, widen the hips, and add a lot of color—which is why brands like First Ascent rise to the fore in the outdoor industry. Their Rainier Storm Shell Pants benefit from all the same high-tech elements found in the men’s version, including three-layer waterproof/breathable material with reinforcement patches in the seat and knees, a feel and sound that’s far softer and quieter than any hard shell should be, and three-quarter length waterproof side zips that make on-and-off a breeze, even over bulky hiking boots. The combo of belt loops and an integrated belt system also let you dial in the perfect fit. The cut is tailored to a woman’s slimmer frame—but the real touch of genius can be found with the U-shaped rear zipper, which allows femme testers to easily commune with nature without having to shed the pants (or a climbing harness) in the process. (a detail that’s not part of the men’s Mount Rainier) These pants are ideal as an extra layer to toss on when conditions become nasty while hiking, backpacking, or climbing. But they do double duty as your backup ski or snowboarding pants for all but the gnarliest of conditions. As they’re designed to go over a pair of hiking pants, expect them to be roomy; go smaller if you want a truly trim fit or are planning to wear them over a next-to-skin baselayer.
Very few of us can—or even want to—wear athletic shoes all the time. But towering platforms, pencil heels, and skyscraper wedges don’t always fit the bill. Our active-minded female set instead turn to Cape Clogs, a designer and distributor of Swedish orthopedic clogs. The sixth-generation clog manufacturer in Smaland, Sweden, produces clogs in assorted colors, upper materials, and heel heights; our testers love the new Dala line with their 2.5 inch heels. The suede leather uppers soften quickly to conform to the particular shape of your foot. A braided leather band limits the stretch of the upper and offers the forefoot and instep extra support. The sole is a molded alder wood that doesn’t absorb your sweat or odor, plus the heel is open, so the back of your feet breathe. And we like the closed-toe design as it affords some modesty for feet that have suffered years of abuse in too-tight climbing shoes and ski boots. While the wood under your foot isn’t initially as comfortable as, say, a pair of faux fur boots, the shape of the footbed is designed to provide both scaphoid and metatarsal support, as well as to encourage posture with a slightly dropped toe bed.
On hot summer days at the pool or beach, it’s hard to look beyond your bikini. But then kids need popsicles, a towel was left in the car, or you spy your potential new boss strolling past the lifeguard stand. Scrunched into your beach bag, taking up less room than a can of Red Bull is your Dash Dress. The whisper-soft fabric glides on over a wet bathing suit to add modesty and sophistication to any waterside scenario. But this dress is ideally suited to handle any warm-weather outing. From shoulder to hem, the dress measures 36 inches—short enough for a hot summer day, but long enough that you could wear it to church. The V-neck front is secured with three snaps for extra venting, and we love the minimal pocket design, with one small chest pocket perfect to secure an iPod shuffle, and a flat, hand-sized hip pocket that shields a small zippered security pocket just big enough for I.D., credit card, key, or cash. The fabric is a light, frothy polyester and spandex blend that resists stains and snags while providing UPF 30+ sun protection. The tight weave naturally repels water (if you get splashed, water beads off)—but if you sweat or your suit soaks through, testers report that the dry time is less than five minutes in the sun.