Gear Round-up: Winter Essentials

Here’s the thing: I hate winter. Yes, I think snow is magical and I love waking up to a wintry world full of icicles and frost–but as soon as I’m out of my heated nook and actually existing in the cold, I’m miserable. Maybe it’s my Florida blood, maybe it’s my Raynaud’s syndrome, but the fact is indisputable: I’m really bad at winter.

Unfortunately, my pursuit of mountainous landscapes and exploring new places has led me to be insufferably stuck with winter. Living in Denver for a few seasons has helped thicken my skin, but finding the right gear to survive winter was the real key to keeping my sanity while everyone else is all “woo, I love snow, let’s go skiing!” (I’m awful at skiing, for the record.)

Whether you’re a winter-hater like me, or a full-fledged fan of the worst season ever, this gear is my go-to for staying warm and making the most out of these next few months of winter. It’s a collection of products I’ve fallen in love with during my travels, gear I’ve been testing, and things that will make excellent gifts during the holiday season–wink wink.

Review of the Cotopaxi Bengal waxed jacket on

Cotopaxi Bengal Jacket

I’m honestly not even sure if I can find the words to describe my undying love for this jacket. I first saw the Cotopaxi Bengal jacket at Outdoor Retailer this summer, and it was love at first site. The color, the waxed canvas, the pockets, and the feel-good that comes with supporting Cotopaxi–this jacket has it all. The longer length is exactly what I needed to balance out my closet (err, suitcase?) full of shorter puffies. The cut is exactly what every lady wishes for when on the hunt for a jacket–it’s sturdy and keeps you warm, but fits my body in a flattering way that doesn’t drown my shape in fabric.

Review of the Cotopaxi Bengal waxed jacket on TheMorningFresh.comReview of the Cotopaxi Bengal waxed jacket on

And the pockets! There are so many damn pockets, and I can hardly contain how excited I am about it. It seems like men always win the pocket jackpot with apparel, but Cotopaxi did us ladies justice with more pockets than I know what to do with. There are simple open flap pockets, interior zippered pockets, button-clasp pockets, pockets-on-pockets, so many pockets. I’ve stopped having to carry a purse with me when I wear this jacket–which is fabulous since I don’t actually own a purse anymore.

As if this jacket needed anymore praise: I’ve had it for months and still haven’t had to wash it yet. I’ve been romping around the desert in Utah, city slicking around town in Denver, exploring Jackson Hole, hopping planes around Seattle, you name it.

Edgevale North Coast Shirt Jacket

Review of the Edgevale North Coast shirt jacket on

I am such a sucker for button-downs with rolled up sleeves. I would wear ’em every single day if I could get away with it. Problem is: even my thickest flannels are still pretty weak when it comes to truly battling winter. Cue the Edgevale North Coast shirt jacket. I’m a tiny gal, and even their smallest size was admittedly a tad big on my frame–but I love this garment. Edgevale describes it as a “soft shell technology and classic styling to create a wind and water resistant garment that’s ultra versatile.” Spot on. It’s thick, much heavier than your normal button-down/flannel, and it’s so damn cozy. The garment wears in a way that combines tomboy style with feminine layering options.

Edgevale North Coast shirt jacket review on

I got the size Small, and it was a little big on my small frame, but it looks great thrown over a sundress or leggings. The shirt jacket is super thick, so your upper half stays warm even on crisp mountain mornings. I do wish Edgevale would make smaller sizes in both pants and shirts–I’ve got a 25″ waist, but their XS pants only gets as small as 27″, and shirt sizes start at Small. Until then, I’ll gladly keep wearing the slightly bigger tops. They’re great for layering with ladylike accessories and a messy top bun when you’re in the city, and perfectly durable for tossing into your pack during a chilly day of climbing. I’m currently also drooling over their Yonder shirt in mallard and the never-gonna-fit-me fleece campfire pants.

Sorel Joan of Arctic Knit II Boots

Sorel Joan of Arctic Knit II bootsHoly mother of snowflakes–I am obsessed with these boots. For three years, I wore a pair of Sorel Slimpack waterproof riding boots as my go-to winter shoe, but they kicked the bucket this year and it’s time for a replacement. Given how much I loved my old Sorels, I decided to have a treat yoself moment and splurge on a new pair for myself. After spending hours debating the pros and cons of nearly every pair on their website, I settled on the Joan of Arctic Knit II boots in the elk color.

I can’t speak to these new boots very well yet, as they’re still in the mail (ugh I hate waiting!). What I can say is this: Sorel makes incredible winter boots that keep your feet warm in the snow and look fantastic on those rare days when us lady dirtbags suddenly decide to attempt being stylish.

Surepaw Dog Gear Rope Leashes

Surepaw Dog Gear leashes reviewI am a sucker for all things southeast–and Surepaw Dog Gear is no exception. This Atlanta-based brand crafts pup leashes from climbing ropes, collars from webbing–and they do it all while embracing the idea of upcycling. Surepaw uses both pre- and post-consumer rope in all their products. I love the MTN Line leashes, and dig the quality construction that features stainless steel carabiners and brightly colored rope. These leashes are Amble approved too, so you know they’ve gotta be good.

If you want to really surprise the dog lover in your life, Surepaw also does custom orders!

Surepaw dog gear leashes review

Accupressure Rings

Accupressure rings from Amazon for climbersHi, if you’re a climber and don’t already have a set of these accupressure rings, I’m writing this for you. This is the first time in over a year that I’ve climbed three days in a row, so my body is really feeling the burn. One of the biggest areas of soreness are my fingers. My accupressure rings conveniently resurfaced while I was purging last week, and I’ve been using them religiously ever since.

You can actually feel the crunchy, stiff buildup in your fingers being gently-yet-effectively broken up as you roll the rings over your finger joints–it’s so satisfying. They’re great to keep on your keychain and whip out during downtime or long meetings. They’re cheap, easy to adopt, and would make a rad stocking stuffer.

What are YOUR winter essentials?

I’m also currently obsessed with: drinking Jaipur Avenue cardamom chai tea mix, drooling over all the color options for the new Organic crash pads I’m ordering for myself, and this hooded flannel from Columbia Sportswear.

Disclaimer: I receive some gear for free to test and review, purchase some gear at full price just, and sometimes use my outdoor industry pro deal to score discounts. No matter how I get my paws on my gear, I always share nothing but my 100% honest opinion. 

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