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Gear & Gadgets

Chilling Tales of Undies and Things

November 03, 1996|JUDI DASH

Cold doesn't have to mean uncomfortable. Take some precautions to stay toasty and the outdoors can be a lot less chilling. The following products may be available at area stores. Prices do not include shipping and handling.

Keeping ears warm: Ear muffs are the best protection against bitter cold and harsh winds, but they can pinch the head and are too bulky to fit under most hats, glasses and bicycle helmets. Ear Mitts, on the other hand are slim, lightweight warmers that are pulled over the ears like mittens. The outside is water-repellent fleece that admits sounds of voices and traffic. The inside is a flexible neoprene with a slit in the middle that stretches over the ear. A long cord connects the mitts to keep pairs together.

One size fits all, from children to adults. Ear Mitts are $11.99 from Outdoors Products; telephone (800) 666-3184.

Keeping liquids hot: Thermos long has been the leading manufacturer of vacuum bottles for keeping foods hot or cold. Recently the company expanded and spiffed up its line to include sleeker, innovative models. A top choice for winter travel is the big two-quart unbreakable stainless steel Thermos, which has a no-drip twist stopper that does not need to be removed for pouring. The Thermos has a retractable handle that lies flat and prevents rolling as well as a detachable shoulder strap for easy portability.

Two-quart Thermos stainless steel vacuum bottle (NCD18) is about $65 at sporting goods stores, but may be available for less at discount outlets.

Toasty undies: Long underwear used to come in two varieties--big bulky blends and sleek, but costly, silk. REI's thermal underwear (called M.T.S. 2, an abbreviation for moisture transport system) is a soft and lightweight polyester blend that wicks moisture away from the body while fitting easily under even the most body hugging pants and tops. The underwear comes in neat shades of purple and blue as well as more conservative hues, and is available in two weights for different weather conditions. My favorite combination is the mid-weight zip turtleneck top and the lightweight bottoms.

M.T.S. 2 thermal mid-weight zip turtleneck is $32 to $34, depending on size. M.T.S.2 thermal lightweight bottoms are $18 to $20, depending on size. Both come in men's and women's sizes from REI; tel. (800) 426-4840.

Warding off wind: Sometimes wind is the real chiller. No matter how thick your pants, a stiff breeze can cut through to the skin. L.L. Bean's black nylon wind-pants block wind yet add virtually no weight. They're great for sitting around the campfire or fireplace on cold nights. The elasticized waistband has side snaps for easy on/off, and full-length leg zippers permit pants to be pulled easily over boots. Cuffs with Velcro closures at the ankles keep wind from seeping in.

Wind-pants in men's sizes (KE10934) are $42 to $47, depending on size. Women's pants (KE10986) are $42 from L.L. Bean; tel. (800) 221-4221.

Most skiers attach their ski passes to a parka zipper, which can be a hassle when switching jackets over the course of a week or season. The Passport Season Pass Holder is a 5-inch by 4 1/2-inch armband with a clear plastic waterproof outer pouch for displaying ski passes or other permits. The adjustable armband attaches via Velcro tabs.

Season Pass Holder (S661) is $11.95 from the Herrington Catalog; tel. (800) 622-5221.

Gear & Gadgets appears the first week of every month.

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