Surprisingly, some cold weather destinations made our list of the top outdoor vacation destinations to visit on a budget.
But not everyone is a fan of cold weather. Winter brings a host of unique risks and challenges not present in warmer seasons. If you live in a cold climate, you no doubt have a winter preparation checklist that will help you find fun outdoor winter activities. After all, winter is an ideal time to get outside and stretch your legs, as long as you have the right clothing and gear.
And what better way to take full advantage of the cold season than to spend a day on the slopes?
Alpine sports such as skiing and snowboarding aren’t cheap. Even getting to the mountain can be expensive. Equipment rentals or purchases weigh on the wallet too, and for safety and comfort, skiers and boarders should buy the right apparel and gear. The high-end brands listed in this post are trusted for quality, durability, and fit. When properly cared for, they’ll remain useful – and stylish – season after season.
Every dollar you save on clothing purchases is a dollar you can put towards skiing and boarding more often. Fortunately, it’s possible to find items from trusted brands at less than suggested retail price.
Top Winter Ski & Snowboard Brands for Apparel and Gear
1. Helly Hansen
Helly Hansen‘s Norwegian pedigree gives this clothing and equipment brand a lot of winter credibility. Helly Hansen makes a full range of winter sports apparel, from heavy jackets and fleeces to boots and hats.
For high-intensity days where the balance of protection and breathability is essential, the Aurora Shell Jacket will suit your needs well. If you’re playing in extreme cold or at high altitude, try the nearly impenetrable Backbowl jacket. Full prices for jackets aren’t super affordable, but you can find deep discounts (30% or more, in some cases) at bargain sporting goods websites such as The House.
Other notable men’s and women’s winter apparel and gear options from Helly Hansen:
- Merino wool base layers
- Snow pants
- Knit beanies
- Neck warmers
Helly Hansen is actually a year-round brand. Aside from snow sports, it makes high-performance apparel, such as water- and salt-proof jackets, for competitive sailing and other water sports. Helly Hansen also dabbles in general outdoor activewear and lifestyle wear, such as cotton t-shirts and dresses.
You can find Helly Hansen products at its branded retail stores around the United States, online at HellyHansen.com, through Amazon.com and at select physical and online sporting goods retailers like Moosejaw.com.
Arc’teryx is a high-end Canadian apparel brand that’s “built for mountains.” It specializes in high-tech winter gear that can withstand the most punishing conditions you’re likely to encounter on your skis or board. In harsh weather, try one of the Gamma or Theta hardshell jacket options. In more temperate conditions, opt for a Gamma softshell or Squamish windbreaker hoodie.
Other notable apparel and accessory options include:
- Waterproof snow pants
- Sweat-wicking base layers (synthetic and natural fibers)
- Mid-layers and fleeces
- Shells (including removable)
- Insulated jackets and coats
It’s worth noting that if you’re into warm-weather rock climbing, Arcteryx has a high-tech apparel and equipment line devoted to your passion. Check out its flexible rock pants and super-strong harnesses.
Arc’teryx clothing and gear tends to be a bit spendier than Helly Hansen’s. Full-price men’s jackets’ pricing is heavily dependent on heaviness; men’s top base layers, which have less material, are typically better values. Look for discounts at online retailers such as Amazon.com, Sierra Trading Post, which routinely slashes Arc’teryx prices by 50% or more, or check out post-season clearance sales at outdoor sports specialists such as Moosejaw.
3. High Sierra
High Sierra is a full-range, year-round clothing, apparel, and gear brand. Though skiing and snowboarding aren’t its focus, it does offer some notable insulated and waterproof jackets that work well in cold, snowy conditions. Plus, it’s more budget-friendly than Arc’teryx and Helly Hansen..
For even deeper discounts, check out its onsite clearance rack, though keep in mind that selection is limited and tends to be limited to a handful of categories, based on what High Sierra needs to get rid of at any given time.
Founded in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, by two ski instructors, SmartWool is a “by skiers, for skiers” kind of brand. Its wheelhouse is high-quality, high-performance wool socks that stay remarkably dry and comfortable in wet or snowy conditions. However, it also makes a surprisingly diverse lineup of other apparel and gear items, such as merino wool jackets, hats and beanies, gloves, and form-fitting crews and tees.
SmartWool’s signature socks come in a dizzying array of patterns and configurations. They’re not cheap, and for best results, they need to be paired with moisture-wicking base socks, particularly if you plan to use them on the slopes for long stretches. That further adds to their cost.
On the bright side, SmartWool socks are incredibly durable. SmartWool’s website doesn’t have much in the way of clearance sales or other discount opportunities, but does offer free shipping on larger orders.
Burton and SmartWool have similar corporate pedigrees, though Burlington, Vermont-based Burton’s is more accurately described as “by riders, for riders.” Burton specializes in snowboards and snowboarding equipment, including boots, bindings, and helmets, as well as minor accessories, such as knee pads.
Prices vary widely, depending on quality and features. However, if you’re a full-grown, frequent snowboarder, Burton’s prices are fair, considering the brand’s overall quality and durability.
Burton doesn’t stop at snowboarding equipment and gear, though. It also sells pretty much every article of clothing an alpine sports enthusiast could want, including snowboard pants, snowboard jackets, fleeces, underlayers, and more.
Unfortunately, Burton’s branded outerwear can be very expensive – some jackets retail for more than $1,000. Still, it’s possible to find discounts of 30% and even 40% in its clearance section – I found roughly 30% discounts on an Ion snowboard boot and Junkers coat recently. Amazom.com frequently has Burton items marked down for a great price. Another option for solid Burton discounts: cash back sites such as Ebates, which offer cash back from different retailers selling Burton items.
Patagonia is a trailblazing outdoor clothing and gear label with high-quality apparel and accessory options for all four seasons – including the depths of an alpine winter. The R1 fleece is an ideal thermal layer for high-stakes skiing and snowboarding, thanks to alpine-friendly features like a built-in balaclava hood and long hem that actually stays tucked in your snowpants. When it’s time to crush powder, rock a R1 under a Powder Bowl Jacket made from 100% recycled GORE-TEX face fabric.
Patagonia shoppers get free shipping on larger orders and the peace of mind that comes with patronizing one of the most socially and environmentally responsible clothing brands around.
7. Kari Traa
Kari Traa is another Scandinavian clothing and accessory imprint with an impeccable reputation for quality and style. It focuses primarily on women’s outerwear, including heavy-duty parkas and lighter fleeces. Lightweight wool apparel, high-strength base layers, and accessories (including non-specialized items, such as sports bras) are available as well.
It’s worth noting that Kari Traa’s online merchandise is denominated in Norwegian krone (NOK), which are worth anywhere from $0.10 to $0.20 apiece. Per Seeking Alpha, the krone is not as closely correlated with the price of oil as commonly assumed, but it has fallen precipitously relative to the U.S. dollar since the early 2010s, making Kari Traa’s clothing more affordable for U.S. consumers. For instance, a NOK 1,999 item cost something like $240 in 2016; in 2012, the same item would have cost about $360.
If you don’t want to convert dollars to krone all day, have Kari Traa’s distribution network do it for you. The brand is available in select stores around the United States including Amazon and REI.com and is becoming more prevalent by the year.
8. Mountain Hardwear
Mountain Hardwear is a high-end outdoor apparel and equipment brand owned by Columbia Sportswear. Like Arc’teryx, Mountain Hardwear devotes a lot of bandwidth to climbing and other non-snow sports. But it also has a great lineup of skiing and snowboarding clothing, including light and heavy jackets, snow pants, heavy-duty gloves, scarves, beanies, and fleeces.
The company’s website is probably the best place to find its entire merchandise lineup, though major sporting goods stores (including Dick’s Sporting Goods and REI) carry some items in-store and online. For deals, check Mountain Hardwear’s website first – in-season discounts frequently range up to 30%.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based Stio is a high-end outdoor clothing and accessories brand that focuses on functional, but non-technical items: light to heavy jackets, fleeces, insulation layers, base layers, beanies, socks, and more. Its options cater to the whole family – men, women, and kids.
Among fashionable skiing and snowboarding brands, Stio isn’t outrageously pricey – full-price jackets are available for half as much comparable items sold by competitors, though some heavier-duty options are pricey. Better yet, Stio always seems to be running broad-based onsite sales covering multiple merchandise types. Some discounts, particularly for off- and post-season items, are eye-catching – north of 50%, in many cases. Free shipping is available on larger website orders.
10. Black Diamond
Black Diamond Equipment sells a full lineup of men’s and women’s activewear and accessories for general winter activity and three specialized verticals: climbing, snowsports, and trekking.
On the snowsports front, Black Diamond has a potent differentiator: winter clothing fillings sourced through the Allied Feather & Down network, the activewear industry’s gold standard for responsible down and feather sourcing. Certified through Control Union, an independent third party, Allied’s Responsible Down Standard spans the entire supply chain, giving manufacturers, retailers, and end-users peace of mind that their fillings come from animals subjected to no unnecessary harm.
Black Diamond fans happily pay a premium for the company’s products. Expect to pay several hundred dollars for durable jackets and shells, depending on configuration and weight. Hats and headbands run cost more than other off-the-shelf options, too.
If you’re looking to upgrade your ski equipment this year, Black Diamond has a nice stash of high-performance skis, poles, and bindings. You’ll find mountaineering skis (for highly technical work), freeride skis (for trail skiing), and touring skis (for backcountry exploration) here.
11. Peak Performance
Peak Performance is another Allied Feather & Down network partner specializing in lightweight jackets, tops, pants, and accessories. Don’t miss the selection of heavy (three-layer) ski jackets – perfect for long days outside in punishing conditions. (Peak Performance is of Norwegian origin, so they know what they’re doing here.)
Look for ongoing sales and discount opportunities; Peak Performance’s post-holiday 2019 sale featured discounts as deep as 50% on outerwear and underlayers. Don’t miss the impressive selection of water-resistant bags, backpacks, and “trolleys,” as they call rolling suitcases in these parts.
12. Genuine Guide Gear
Genuine Guide Gear, or G3, retails high-performance equipment and gear for discerning – and adventurous – skiers and riders.
G3’s core product lines include skis built for ski mountaineering (FINDr), performance touring (SEEKr), and all-mountain exploration (ROAMr and SENDr); splitboards built for all-mountain touring (BLACKSHEEP) and take-no-prisoners powder crushing (SCAPEGOAT+); impossibly light bindings (ZED); and performance-enhancing skins that stand up to the toughest conditions.
The SEEKr-ZED combo is particularly potent, with SEEKr providing ample heft for big backcountry powder and ZED’s ultra-lightweight construction delivering outlandish maneuverability. We’ve had a chance to try them out personally, and they’re worth every penny. Simply put, G3 offers unmatched quality at this price point, no matter what you’re trying to do on the mountain.
Genuine Guide Gear’s world-class wares don’t come cheap. Expect to pay close to $1,000 per ski pair or splitboard at full price, depending on your make and model. But clearance deals abound – under the “More Gear” dropdown on G3’s main site, click “Shop All Clearance,” then search for gear that fits your needs. With luck and a willingness to compromise, you can pick up skis and boards for close to half-price here.
Plus, G3’s value-add is second to none: G3 University has everything you need to know about backcountry touring, and then some. And technical accessories abound here as well: poles, packs, snow tools, and more.
Cotopaxi offers a range of cool- and cold-weather apparel, gear, and accessories. For punishing winter conditions, opt for the Fuego Hoodless Down Jacket, whose effervescent weight belies its insulating power. Come spring skiing season, combat cold, driving rain with the Parque Rain Shell over a Cubre Full-Zip Fleece . And don’t venture out into the backcountry without a Cotopaxi technical backpack (the Tarak 20L backpack is a good option) to carry your essentials.
Don’t miss Cotopaxi’s 15% first-time buyer discount, either; it’s unlocked when you enter your email in the pop-up box. The discount applies to most on-site merchandise and deducts from your order at checkout. Shipping is free on larger orders, and you’ll get a significant discount off your next order for each successful referral (though both promotions are subject to change at any time).
Shinesty is easily the most offbeat brand on this list. Shinesty’s style is best described as “hipster chic,” and the label makes a pretty impressive range of clothing: swimwear, underwear, tops, pants, headbands (and other accessories), and a limited selection of alpine gear (such as jackets and snowsuits).
Shinesty’s designs aren’t for conservative tastes. Its snowsuit designs include Paul Revere American Flag One Piece, Day-Glo ’80s-Style Neon, and ’80s-Style Neon – Tony Montana Edition, and one of its ski masks is printed to resemble a screaming bald eagle. Shinesty does have a cool refer-a-friend program that earns you cash for each referral, and all ski suits come with free shipping (though both offers are subject to change).
Klattermusen hails from the tiny northern Swedish town of Are, a lonely outpost in the vast subarctic wilderness. Unsurprisingly, the company’s tight-knit crew knows a thing or two about cold-weather recreation – weather that means “hiking to find the perfect trout stream, ski touring to the peaks of the Sylarna mountains or just walking the dog.”
Klattermusen specializes in sturdy men’s and women’s outdoor apparel and gear. If you’re into Nordic skiing, check out their functional backpacks, which are way stronger than they look – and relatively affordable. Their shoulder bags are great for apres-ski activities on the town, and much more affordable too. Don’t miss Klattermusen’s unisex mid-weight jackets either – you’ll find discounts of up to 50% on select models.
16. TREW Gear
TREW Gear‘s product line overlaps quite a bit with Klattermusen’s. Its center of gravity is heavy-duty gear designed specifically for deep-snow activity: full-body bibs, heavy-duty jackets, and rough-riding snow pants. Just about everything in TREW Gear’s arsenal, including its surprisingly stylish bags, is waterproof or water-resistant.
Look out for free shipping on larger orders. Given the somewhat spendy selection here, that probably won’t be too hard to clear. Just think of your TREW Gear purchase as an investment in snowsports fun for years to come.
17. Bergan’s of Norway
If its Norwegian pedigree didn’t give the game away, here it is: Bergan’s is a serious cold-weather outdoor brand for serious winter sports enthusiasts.
For women, the heavy-duty Cecilie and Breheimen jackets stand up the toughest on-mountain conditions you can reasonably expect to encounter; the lighter Slingsby is a flexible choice for spring skiing and riding. For men, the Stranda Down Hybrid is the heavy-duty jacket of choice, though the Gjende and men’s Breheimen both do their jobs. You’ll find winter-ready bottoms, underlayers, and accessories here as well. Bergan’s clothing and accessories are pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Bergan’s has a vast collection of non-apparel items and gear, too, including rugged Helium Expedition tents that sleep up to six. The best part: If you live in a major metro area, you’re almost certainly within easy reach of a Bergan’s partner retailer.
18. Mobile Warming
Mobile Warming specializes in heated clothing capable of standing up to the most punishing winter conditions imaginable. Its lineup is startlingly diverse, covering everything from lighter-than-belief outerlayers and form-fitting baselayers to vests, shirts, and gloves. Fieldsheer heating technology safely delivers gentle yet insistent heating for hours on end, with Bluetooth-enabled built-in touch control and an intuitive app offering on-the-fly adjustment through four heat settings – a clutch capability when you’re in the frigid backcountry, out of cell range.
Check Mobile Warming’s sale page for impressive discounts on top-quality items. Shipping is free on larger orders within the continental United States (subject to change). You can also find a nice selection of Mobile Warming gear on Amazon.com.
Some famous cold-weather brands only do a few things – but they do them exceedingly well.
19. Smith Optics
Smith is mostly about eyewear. Its high-tech goggles, complete with sophisticated anti-fogging and glare reduction capabilities, are critical for serious skiers and snowboarders for whom safety and enjoyment are synonymous with clear vision. Smith’s cutting-edge goggles can cost several hundred dollars, though low-tech “classic” pairs are available for 10% to 20% of the high-tech options’ sticker price. Another top Smith product: high-tech helmets equipped with the best technology and all of the essential safety features.
Smith also offers reasonably priced, branded apparel items, such as hoodies. However, it shouldn’t be your first choice for high-performance clothing. For discounts, check coupon sites, which occasionally have discount codes good for up to 60% off, or discount outdoor retailers such as Sierra Trading Post, whose discounts often exceed 40%.
Bolle is even more specialized: it’s all about protective eyewear and helmets. Like Smith Optics, Bolle touts its high-tech goggle options, priced a little under Smith’s, but also offers cheap, durable options – such as the Mojo Snow goggles, available on Amazon for a fraction of the cost of the cutting-edge stuff.
Bliz is a third option for serious skiers and snowboarders in search of high-performance goggles and helmets. Bliz’s super-durable goggles are significantly less expensive than Bolle’s high-end products – despite offering exceptional vision and fashion, the Carver goggles cost less than half what Bolle charges for a comparable pair. Retailers like Moosejaw have a pretty extensive selection available.
Point6 describes its products as “merino mastered,” and that pretty much sums it up. Point6 specializes in durable, comfortable merino wool socks for high-impact outdoor activities, including skiing and snowboarding. In fact, durable, comfortable merino wool socks are all Point6 does. As with SmartWool, expect to pay a decent sum per pair here.
23. Krimson Klover
Krimson Klover is an upscale clothing label based in Boulder, Colorado. Its wheelhouse is fashionable, practical women’s base layers, accessories, and light- to moderate-duty outerwear. Bright, colorful designs belie high-tech construction, particularly on Krimson Klover’s form-fitting baselayers. Krimson Klover is pricey – and, as a niche brand, it’s not available at many sporting goods discounters. However, Krimson Klover does run periodic onsite sales that present fantastic deals – for instance, I recently found an Endless Journeys scarf marked down more than 70%. You can also frequently find great deals on Krimson Klover through Amazon.
ThermaCELL is all about bringing the heat – heated insoles and other clothing inserts, that is. ThermaCELL makes several iterations of these products, but the ProFLEX activewear model is probably the best choice for alpine sports enthusiasts. ProFLEX comes in most common shoe sizes, up to U.S. size 13, and can be paired with battery packs and remotes. ThermaCELL makes hand warmers and pocket warmers too.
Though they’re certainly not cheap, ThermaCELL’s insoles and warmers are literal limb-savers designed for safety and comfort in super harsh environments. Look for discounted items at major sporting goods retailers, including Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Also, keep in mind that when it’s time to put away the heated products for the warm season, you can bust out another ThermaCELL product – heavy-duty mosquito repellent.
25. Belong Designs
Belong Designs has a more varied lineup than ThermaCELL or Point6, but all of its products support the same niche: “the Colorado lifestyle.” Belong makes lightweight tees, medium-duty hoodies, and heavier-duty “skiing/boarding jackets,” many of which proudly display the Colorado flag.
These items are great for sports enthusiasts who prioritize form over function – for instance, the skiing/boarding jackets are loose-fitting and thus not totally impervious to moisture, so you probably don’t want to wear them in a blizzard. On the plus side, they’re fairly affordable: full-price men’s jackets cost roughly 50% to 75% of comparable models offered by competitors, and end-of-season clearances can drop prices by another 50% or more.
26. Imperial Motion
Like Belong Designs, Imperial Motion shouldn’t be your first choice for heavy-duty clothing to wear on a cold, windy winter day. Its high-end hats, jackets, and accessories are meant for temperate conditions, such as spring skiing at low altitude. But the stylish designs certainly support the skiing/boarding lifestyle, without Belong Designs’ particular homage to Colorado. Jackets are reasonably priced – even cheaper than Belong’s, in some cases. Look for free U.S. shipping on larger online orders.
Consider pairing stylish Belong Designs or Imperial Motion clothing and accessories with high-quality footwear from Ahnu, a boutique brand that makes sustainably sourced shoes, boots, and sandals (including a leather-free vegan line).
Ahnu’s heavy-duty boot line is most likely to appeal to skiers and snowboarders while getting to and from the mountain, as the brand’s lighter footwear is too flimsy for snow or cold weather. Ahnu’s boots aren’t cheap. But when you buy from Ahnu, you contribute to a higher purpose: the young company has donated several hundred thousand dollars to well-known charities since its inception. Ahnu boots can also be purchased from Amazon with free shipping if you’re a Prime member.
Though its Canadian roots inevitably confer some cold-weather credibility, Lululemon is another brand that’s not immediately associated with alpine sports, unless you consider its signature yoga pants a suitable base layer. However, Lululemon has recently branched out into jackets, hoodies, and other alpine gear capable of handling moderately chilly conditions.
On the slopes, opt for the water-resistant Gather Me Slightly jacket over a windbreaking base- or mid-layer. For onsite deals, check out the “We Made Too Much” tab, which shuttles you to clearance sales and limited-time deals that can confer solid discounts – for instance, a Scuba Hoodie III marked down by about 30%.
29. Outdoor Technology
Outdoor Technology makes some winter-friendly apparel and accessories, including hoodies, beanies, and face protection. But what it’s known for is portable audio and power equipment that can be worn in virtually any alpine environment – from the bunny hill to the backcountry. If you need on-the-go power for your phone, heating devices, camera, audio gear, or other essential equipment, the Kodiak “power bank” series has you covered. If you want to stay entertained on the mountain, look to Outdoor Technology’s 10+ audio options, including WiFi earbuds, traditional headphones, and compact speakers.
30. Chaos Hats
Chaos Hats makes affordable, fashionable headwear and neck wear for every season. It offers three broad categories: unisex, women, and kids. The beanies, of which there’s a seemingly endless variety of reasonably priced, well-constructed options, are snug enough to fit under your helmet and fashionable enough to wear in the lounge after a day on the slopes.
On bitter days, opt for a stylish trapper hat with fluffy fur inserts and long, super-warm ear flaps. And, for an amazingly warm and comfortable experience in any winter setting, check out the affordable polar fleece necktubes – turtleneck attachments that look way more fashionable.
You can’t wear Giesswein‘s ultra-comfortable wool shoes while you’re carving up the slopes, but when you’re done skiing or riding for the day, there’s nothing you’d rather have on your feet.
Giesswein makes a variety of indoor and outdoor shoes for men, women and kids from its boiled and knitted wool – a non-scratchy natural fabric that keeps your feet warm and comfortable. Their footbeds (inserts) are ideal for people who need additional arch support, and the shoes with removable footbeds are machine washable. They’re not too pricey, either.
32. Native Eyewear
Native Eyewear makes two types of exceptional eyewear: sunglasses and goggles.
Native’s high-tech goggles are essential accessories on the mountain. The company’s lenses come in several different color and light-transmission configurations, from SnowTuned Bronze (20% light transmission, ideal for bright, sunny conditions) to SnowTuned Low Light (67% light transmission, ideal for overcast or snowy conditions). If you don’t want to buy multiple pairs, check out the SnowTuned React Rose (10% to 35% light transmission, depending on ambient conditions). Pricing ranges from fairly affordable to fairly dear.
Native’s sunglasses are also designed for impact resistance, so they are ideal for light skiing and outdoor apres-ski lounging – especially on long, warm spring days. Durable performance models like Bomber cost several times more than your basic gift shop pair, but you get what you pay for here.
33. 8K Flexwarm
8K Flexwarm makes lightweight heated clothing that allows excellent range of motion on the slopes (or anywhere else you get your outdoor activity on) without sacrificing warmth or comfort. Once activated, the ultra-thin heating element (just 0.5 millimeters thick) warms to 122 degrees Fahrenheit in about six minutes – warm enough to face virtually any weather conditions, but not hot enough to cause burns or discomfort. With front and back heating zone and seamless app control that lets you raise or lower the temperature without fumbling for controls under multiple layers of clothing, it’s hard to imagine a more convenient setup.
8K Flexwarm makes heated jackets, vests, and hoodies. No bones about it, you’ll pay a premium for guaranteed comfort: synthetic fiber hoodies cost roughly double what you’d pay for a high-quality non-heated option; same goes for the jackets and vests. But 8K Flexwarm’s clothing is built to last, and the lightweight power bank doubles as a portable smartphone charger. At altitude, that’s practically priceless.
34. Mountain Khakis
Mountain Khakis is a self-proclaimed “pant authority,” and it’s true that the bulk of its selection fits between the waist and the ankles. Its selection runs the gamut from rugged jeans (like the men’s 307 jean here) and khakis worthy of the most strenuous hike in Mountain Khakis’ native Tetons, to swank cambers and chinos (like the women’s Sandbar pant here) better suited to the local brewery or cocktail bar. Most pairs are reasonably priced relative to other durable, stylish apparel.
But if you’re all set on pants, Mountain Khakis has plenty more to offer. Its hats and gloves work well in the chilly (or downright frigid) mountain air, and stylish belts and buckles add flair to your outdoor wardrobe. Enjoy free shipping on larger orders and free returns.
Craghoppers has a simple mission: “to create comfortable and practical clothing ranges to help our customers stay on the trail as long as possible.” Its outdoor apparel ranges from lightweight underlayers, to mid-weight shells and fleeces, to heavier-duty jackets ideal for a day on the slopes. If you’re looking for non-snow gear, check out its insect-repellent fabrics – perfect for an overnight camping trip by the lake.
Craghoppers’ list pricing is pretty reasonable by upmarket outdoor apparel standards, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to do even better if you hold out for its periodic (but seemingly frequent) seasonal sales. In 2019, Craghoppers’ post-holiday (January) sale featured across-the-board price cuts of up to 30%.
SCOTTeVEST has a memorable name and an unmistakable approach to winter fashion, built around comfortable, high-quality vests and jackets for men and women. Though they’re not rated to stand up to truly frigid weather, SCOTTeVEST’s high-tech jackets are appropriate outerlayers for spring skiing and comfortable, flexible mid-layers for the dead of winter.
Vests and jackets carry a premium price tag at SCOTTeVEST, but their legendary durability ensures many seasons of use. Don’t miss the extensive collection of winter accessories and the stylish women’s clothing line, which includes rugged, all-season skirts and full-length jackets.
DSTLD has a bold mission: to “[disrupt] the $200 billion fashion industry with fairly priced, direct-to-consumer premium essentials.” Unlike most fashion retailers, DSTLD cuts out the middleman and sells directly to its end users, slashing retail prices for its premium denim goods by about two-thirds with no compromise on quality. Thanks to an innovative equity crowdfunding campaign, it’s supported by a numerous (and growing) cohort of like-minded investors, not multimillionaire VCs. And DSTLD refuses to lower its high ethical standards, demanding fair working conditions all along its supply chain and relentlessly pursuing ethical sourcing.
What about its clothing and accessories? Those are pretty great too, with statement-making wool coats and winter accessories (hats, scarves) retailing at surprisingly fair price points. DSTLD is proof that high winter fashion and raw denim doesn’t have to cost you an arm or a leg – or compromise your values.
Vuori is another eco-friendly brand specializing in high-tech, fashion-forward activewear. Items in its Recycled Series incorporate recycled plastic bottles, while its upcycled coconut fabric transforms coconut husks that would otherwise wind up in landfills into moisture-wicking, odor-fighting threads. All Vuori fabrics are quick-dry, making its lightweight hoodies and pullovers ideal for warmer winter days where any slopeside activity is bound to work up a sweat. Free shipping on larger orders and a no-questions-asked return policy sweeten the deal for frugal fashionistas.
Mammut is a venerable mountaineering outfitter specializing in trail-ready shoes, active apparel for a range of weather conditions, and high-performance technical gear for serious climbers and snowsports enthusiasts.
Before you venture into the backcountry, stock up at Mammut’s avalanche safety shop, where you’ll find lightweight shovels , refillable avalanche airbag cartridges, and airbags themselves (your life is worth it, despite the price tag). While you’re on-page, grab a set of hiking shoes (like the Ducan Knit High GTX) to cover the same ground when the snow melts. Shipping is free on larger orders.
40. Muck Boots
Muck Boots makes “boots for living life in the muck,” as its tagline goes. Plenty of footwear brands crow about their durability and water-resistance; Muck Boots goes the extra mile to create truly impermeable boots, clogs, and shoes that stand up to the ickiest conditions imaginable. The men’s and women’s Arctic Ice Tall boots are ideal for navigating knee-deep snow and mud on early-spring trails; the Apres Ankle Slip is a more civilized option better-suited to navigating sloppy base lodge parking lots and ski town sidewalks.
Muck Boots offers free shipping and returns on all orders within the continental U.S., a rare value in the winter sports world.
Trading on its origins in Alaska’s perilous commercial fishing industry, XTRATUF makes high-performance footwear for a variety of on- and off-shore applications. You won’t be strapping your men’s 6-inch ankle deck boot or 15-inch Legacy boot into ski or board bindings anytime soon, but you’ll be happy you have either as you trudge through the slush on your way to the apres-slope happy hour. Add fleece boot liners for extra warmth and moisture protection; you’re going to need it.
Like Muck Boots, XTRATUF offers free shipping and returns on all orders in the continental U.S. Sale items are non-refundable, though it’s difficult to imagine being dissatisfied with one of the toughest boot brands on the market.
42. Lamo Footwear
You’re not going to strap on your Lamos and trudge through knee-deep snow. You will want to keep a pair on hand for the post-downhill portion of your day, however. That’s because Lamo Footwear makes outrageously comfortable sheepskin slippers, moccasins, and low-tops. If you don’t need anything fancy, the men’s scuff or lady’s bootie will do just fine; for a sturdier, snugger fit, opt for the double-face scuffs (options available for men and women). The sheepskin insoles are clutch accessories for frugal comfort-seekers.
Shipping is free on all orders in the continental United States, though you do have to pay shipping on replacements for returned items.
How to Save on Skiing & Snowboarding Gear
No bones about it: high-quality alpine apparel and gear can be pricey. Controlling your snow sports clothing spending is all about knowing where, when, and how to buy. Try these tips.
1. Avoid Shopping at or Near Mountain Resorts
Forgetting to pack the right clothes is a rite of passage for harried vacationers. It can also be a major money pit, particularly when you wait to buy what you’ve forgotten until you’re settled at your destination. Almost without fail, ski resort shops mark up crucial clothing and gear, sometimes dramatically.
In less isolated locations, you may have luck finding a larger sporting goods store or general merchandise retailer (such as Walmart) away from the resort, but within easy driving distance. However, it’s not guaranteed that these stores will have what you’re looking for, particularly at the height of the winter season. Even if your items are in stock, the laws of supply and demand dictate that they probably won’t be deeply discounted.
2. Check Post-Season Clearance Sales and Year-Round Discounters
No self-respecting alpine sports nut wants winter to end, but spring comes with a silver lining: winter gear clearance sales. In fact, late winter and early spring are often the best times of year to find deals on in-style apparel and gear, as retailers and manufacturers need to get rid of their current-year stock to make room for summer sporting gear, and then the following winter season’s gear.
Then again, the immediate post-season isn’t necessarily the only time to find fantastic deals on cold-weather apparel and gear. These days, it’s easy enough to find deep discounts year-round on outdoor e-commerce platforms like Backcountry, which carries an impressive selection of items from slew of top-quality winter apparel brands, including several on this list – often at significant discounts to list price. Backcountry also carries exclusive, house-labeled cold-weather products, including high-performance touring skis and eye-catching splitboard skins. Sign up for Backcountry’s mailing list to earn 20% off your first order.
3. Plan an Outlet Mall Shopping Trip
Winter apparel brands love outlet malls. Bigger manufacturers, such as Columbia Sportswear, routinely set up shop in these high-traffic retail complexes, which tend to be located on the fringes of major metropolitan areas and in popular vacation destinations. Though it’s not wise to expect deep, across-the-board discounts on popular merchandise, outlet stores do tend to have more frequent sales, as well as better deals on specific items.
Outlet malls are intentionally located in far-flung areas with cheap real estate, so they’re not ideal for a quick glove or sock run. But, if you need to purchase lots of winter apparel for the coming season, the money you save at the outlet mall is likely to more than offset the financial cost of your trip.
When you’re too pressed for time to make a bona fide outlet mall trip, consider a digital alternative like Backcountry.com. Backcountry has an impressive array of house-brand ski and snowboard apparel, from heavy-duty jackets and snowpants to fleeces and accessories. It also has items from dozens of outdoor brands, some of which appear on the list above, and often at significant discounts to list price. Sign up for Backcountry’s email list to earn 20% off your first onsite order.
4. Try Your Luck at Holiday Sales
If you miss your chance at post-season clearance sales, the next best time to buy may be during the holiday shopping season – specifically, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the proximate days. Winter apparel and gear, including items specifically designed for alpine sports, are always popular around the holidays. Check a variety of merchants: online retailers such as Amazon and eBay, general merchandise stores such as Walmart and Target, big-box sporting goods stores such as Cabela’s and REI, and apparel brands themselves.
5. Buy Gently Used
If the glove fits, wear it. Today’s winter sports apparel is far higher-tech than what was available a generation ago, but year-to-year changes are rarely dramatic. That makes used items, which often sell for more than 50% less than comparable new items, attractive to frugal snow sports enthusiasts.
Search Craigslist, eBay, local sporting goods stores, and other trusted sources for good-condition apparel and gear from last season or before. To ensure quality, avoid listings without photographs, and confirm with private sellers that you’ll be allowed to inspect the items before exchanging money. Also, keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to find – and wouldn’t want to wear, anyway – used underlayers, socks, and other clothing that’s typically worn directly against the skin.
6. Buy Multi-Use Clothing & Gear
If you live in coastal California and only encounter snow on occasional trips to the Sierra, your cold-weather gear probably stays boxed up most of the time. On the other hand, if you live somewhere colder, like Boston or Chicago, your winter apparel is presumably in the rotation four or five months out of the year.
Cold-climate shoppers can save a bundle (and reduce clutter) simply by using their alpine gear on a day-to-day basis, rather than keeping separate reserves of high-quality outerwear, underlayers, and accessories. Sure, using your alpine gear for outdoor exercise (or just dashing from your car to your heated destination) wears it out faster. But, unless you’re an avid snow sports enthusiast, you’re still likely to get more use – and more value – out of it.
By the same token, look for opportunities to reuse cold-weather accessories and equipment year-round. For instance, SporTube makes rugged, high-capacity storage cases that store fishing poles and spears as well as skis, boards, and boots. A single tube might be all that’s needed for year-round enjoyment, no matter how adventurous your hobbies.
Alpine sports aren’t cheap. Major ski resorts routinely charge upwards of $100 for single-day adult lift tickets. Getting to the mountain, staying at or near the mountain, renting or buying your skis or boards, and purchasing the necessary gear described in this post all add to the cost.
You can save big time by buying season passes at your favorite resort (or regional resort alliances), purchasing skis and boards secondhand or on clearance, and looking for lodging deals or bunking up with fellow travelers. But, at the end of the day, skiing and snowboarding are still expensive hobbies.
If you’re one of these people, and skiing or snowboarding is a net positive for your emotional health, you’re likely reluctant to put a price tag on the hobby. But it’s sure nice to find great deals on high-end apparel and gear.
For more fun, check out our Top 10 Best Outdoor Adventure Vacation Destinations on a Budget.
What’s your favorite skiing and snowboarding apparel brand? How do you find deals on pricier items?