For the majority of the known universe, spring comes with the promise of the long days of summer and a final respite from the cold days of the last few months. This list is not for those people. But if you relish the idea of getting in some mid- to late-spring powder/corn turns, these picks will make that dream a reality—and bonus: most ski and snowboarding gear (like many on this list) goes on sale as the season winds down.
1. Helly Hansen Aurora Shell Jacket, $450; 2. Mammut Aenergy SO Pants, $189; 3. Icebreaker Oasis Base Layers, $90 and up; 4. Smith Variance Helmet, $180; 5. Smith I/O7, $199; 6. Gordini Endeavor Glove, $35; 7. Darn Tough Pinnacle Over-the-Calf Light, $23.
Top photo: TimOve/Flickr CC BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Designed with input from femme pro freeskiers, this jacket takes all comers, with enough room to layer for cold a.m. jaunts, and light enough to use with just a base layer when the mercury rises. Its patented three-ply construction will keep you dry without overheating, partnered with vent zips to amp up its warm-weather applications. And the high-vis brim offers a flash of color, which means your buddies will still see you when you carve into that lingering powder stash.
Photo courtesy of Helly Hansen
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These soft shell pants were designed for high-octane activities like uphill skinning or boot packing, so they'll perform admirably at the resort on warm days. The trim, athletic fit reduces bulk and enhances breathability and moisture wicking, while the durable three-layer fabric blocks the wind.
Photo courtesy of Mammut
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Spring means you don't need a burly mid-layer. Hell, it often means skiing in your bathing suit. But if you want to exercise a bit of modesty, the Oasis line of lightweight base layers fit the bill. Both the long-sleeve crew ($100) and the leggings ($90) are made of Icebreaker's 200 lightweight grade merino wool for all-natural wicking, warm-when-wet comfort, with a slim overall fit and offset seams to prevent chafing. And the top also boasts a few fun graphics like an illustration of a yurt.
Photo courtesy of Icebreaker
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It'd be tempting to ditch the snow helmet in the warmth of spring. Don't—crashing into a tree hurts just as badly in March as it does in January. Instead, use the Variance, one of the most breathable helmets on the market. The hybrid shell construction and a low-profile regulator, partnered with 18 discrete vents, makes the helmet remarkably comfortable. Remove the snapfit earpads on really hot days, and take comfort that the nanosilver lining is odor-protected for when you really start getting after it.
Photo courtesy of Smith Optics
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The Cadillac of Smith's goggle line, the 1/O7s pair perfectly with the Variance, so you won't be part of the sad gapper set (read: novice skiers who have a huge gap between the brim of their helmet and the top of their goggles). But the I/O7s are about so much more than their sleek appearance. Each pair comes with easy-to-swap lenses for bright and low-light conditions, with proprietary anti-fogging tech and a patented filter tech to prevent optical distortion that can occur when changing elevations. The helmet-compatible goggles also have comfortable three-layer face foam, spherical carbonic-x lenses for unparalleled clarity, and quick-snap adjustment.
Photo courtesy of Smith Optics
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Spring conditions seldom brings ice-cold temperatures, so ditch the bulk of a conventional snow glove for the Endeavor, which utilizes four-way stretch to give you serious dexterity. The touch screen-compatible gloves have a cozy pile fleece back, a breathable stretch overlay, and grip palms, thumbs, and finger patches, with a stretch cuff that tucks nicely inside a coat's sleeve.
Photo courtesy of Gordini
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As with the gloves, you don't need seriously thick socks, but the over-the-calf design of the Pinnacles still offers a bit of protection against the unpredictable nature of rental boot interiors. The merino wool wicks away sweat, keeps you warm in any condition, and doesn't make your world smell like a foot locker once you shed your ski boot, while the mix of nylon and spandex gives you a snug, durable life-long fit (as confirmed by their lifelong guarantee).
Photo courtesy of Darn Tough