PlanetSKI’s Winter Gear Review – Part One

It may be a little awkward to get to the Alps at the moment, but we can still think of ski gear even if we can’t all get to the slopes. Take a peek at our winter gear review from Alf Alderson.

Updated 20th January 2022

ETNIES JAMESON HTW £79.99 www.eu.etnies.com

You don’t always need a full-on winter boot for the cold season, but you do want footwear that will keep your feet warm and dry, which is where the Jameson HTW comes in.

It’s essentially Etnies’ popular Jameson HT in winterised form, which means you get a tough, water-resistant PU nubuck/synthetic upper combined with a 3M Thinsulate lining to keep your tootsies warm (the lining is also quick drying) along with a gusseted tongue for additional protection against snow and water, whilst the high top also provides better protection from the elements than regular shoes.

The sole is made from a pure gum compound with a particularly low freezing rate and a reverse Geo-Hex lug tread pattern protruding from the outsole for maximum traction on snow and ice.

Combine this with great looks and you’ve got footwear that’s going to look great for a night out or just hanging about down town or on the beach, and bearing in mind how grotty the British weather can be even at the height of summer you’ll probably end up wearing the Jameson HTW year-round.

VERDICT: Great looking, snow and cold resistant footwear that you can use year-round.

Etnies Jameson HTW £79.99 –  Image © www.eu.etnies.com

Hanwag Wagner 100 Boots £350 (available in men’s and women’s styles) www.hanwag.com 

This is a beautiful pair of boots made to celebrate Hanwag’s 100th anniversary, and whilst pricey they could quite easily last a lifetime if you look after them properly – they even come with a small shoe care kit, and the sole can be replaced when it eventually wears down.

The mid-cut Wagner 100 is made in Germany by expert boot makers using a traditional double-stitched construction and features a stylish but rugged leather outer along with an environmentally friendly chrome-free tanned leather footbed and leather lining.

The cuff and tongue are made of luxuriously soft nubuck leather, and no breaking in is required, whilst the Vibram Vi-Lite sole is lightweight, provides good grip and offers excellent cushioning and great comfort on both strike and roll-off when walking.

Little touches such as a tongue featuring Hanwag’s 100-year centenary logo, extra laces (bright red too!) and an info sheet on the company’s history add to the uniqueness of these lovely boots.

They’re particularly good for ski trips since they keep your feet warm and dry in the snow as well as providing good grip on a variety of surfaces, but also look stylish enough to be worn both for travel and whilst hanging out in bars, clubs and restaurants, which effectively means you only need take one pair of footwear with you (other than ski boots) on your next ski trip.

VERDICT:  Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re also one of the nicest pairs of boots I’ve ever worn.

Hanwag Wagner  100 BOOTS £350 (available in men’s and women’s styles) – Image © www.hanwag.com

Available in men’s and women’s styles – Image © www.hanwag.com

Jottnar Fenrir Hooded Down Jacket £295.00 www.jottnar.com

The Jottnar Fenrir strikes the perfect balance between lightness and warmth and as such is an ultra-versatile down jacket – I’ve used it as an outer layer with just a base layer on warm days, as an outer layer with additional layers beneath on really cold days and also take it along in my pack when skiing with a shell jacket so I can either wear it over or under the shell if I get cold.

The warmth is provided by ultra-warm 850 Fill Power goose down, in a premium 93/7 down/feather ratio; it’s also been treated with a water-repellent down from DownTek, which apparently stays dry for ten-times longer than untreated down, won’t wash out and is free from harmful fluorocarbons (Jottnar’s ethical approach to down sourcing complies with the Responsible Down Standard, incidentally).

There’s further protection from wet weather thanks to a water repellent 30-denier micro rip-stop face fabric, whilst potential moisture zones at the cuffs, hem, collar and underarms contain 140g/m2 synthetic insulation which dries out quicker than even Downtek-treated down. The Fenrir also features a cinch hood with elasticated binding, stretch technical cuffs, and is supplied with its own stuff sack for easy carriage.

The hood is also down filled and elasticated to ensure it stays in place, whilst a rear cinch ensures good peripheral vision when in use.

Additional features include large zipped hand pockets and a smaller internal security pocket (inside which there’s a stuff sac for the jacket) along with a scoop drop back hem to keep your bum warm and drawcords on the hem to keep cold draughts at bay.

In use the Fenrir is all you could want from a down jacket, being light but warm and allowing plenty of freedom of movement – it’s with me all the time in winter, either on my back or in my pack.

VERDICT:  An essential piece of winter kit for anyone who wants to stay warm and comfortable in harsh conditions.

Jottnar Fenrir Hooded Down Jacket £295.00 – Image © www.jottnar.com

Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity Shell Jacket  £650 www.hellyhansen.com

This award-winning offering from Helly Hansen may come at a hefty price but it also comes with an absolute stack of features, including a free lift pass at one of 50 ski resorts worldwide.

Engineered from LIFA Infinity Pro fabric (a first-to-market advancement of waterproof/breathable fabric made entirely without added chemicals) it was designed with input from mountain professionals, and it shows in features like horizontal pockets (making it easier to stash gloves etc. when you’re making a quick stop), backpack-compatible pocket placement and a hood designed for maximum mobility and visibility.

I also liked the ‘Life Pocket’, which is a zippered chest pocket that features Primaloft Gold Insulation Aerogel, which makes it three times warmer than a standard pocket and thus helps preserve the battery life of your phone, or, I guess, your transceiver, although you are, of course, meant to wear your transceiver underneath your jacket.

The fabric is both highly durable and highly breathable and waterproof as well as being treated with PFC-free DWR, so the weather is very much kept on the outside, whilst the fit is quite loose so you can easily layer up beneath it in cold weather.

Other features that help keep the weather at bay include integrated wrist gaiters and buff along with a very high collar with beard guard (some may find it too high, in fact).

If you choose not to ski with a pack there’s tons of space for carrying accessories in the two large, zippered hand pockets, big internal mesh stash pocket and smaller internal security pocket, and there’s a lift pass pocket on the left sleeve.

There are pit zips for temperature control along with large, glove-friendly Velcro cuff adjusters, and a powder skirt and hem drawcord add yet another layer of weather protection – talking of which, the jacket also comes with an integrated Recco reflector.

The Elevation Infinity Shell is not cheap, but the rugged build quality and stack of features ensures you get a lot for your money and it should last several seasons.

VERDICTPricey but stacked with features, well-made and good-looking.

Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity Shell Jacket £650 – Image © www.hellyhansen.com

All photographs supplied by Alf Alderson.