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Gear & Gadgets

Cold-Weather Comforts

January 04, 1998|JUDI DASH

Being out in the cold doesn't need to be a chilling experience if you are well prepared. So, here to go with ski trips, walks in snowy woods and cozy potluck suppers are some innovative items that will give you a warm feeling no matter how low the mercury dips. Products may be available in area stores. Prices do not include shipping and handling.

Snazzy warmups: Silk has always been stylish--now it's warm and machine washable as well. Travelsilks are lightweight long underwear tops and bottoms that add extra insulation on the ski slopes or during winter walks. The feel is soft and smooth and the fabric is as durable as bulkier materials, while taking up just a few inches of suitcase space. No need to baby this stuff; it goes in the machine along with the rest of your clothes. Each piece comes with its own drawstring bag for easy packing.

Travelsilks tops and bottoms in men's and women's sizes are $29 apiece from Magellan's; telephone (800) 962-4943.

De-icing car doors: In really frigid weather, moisture can get into a car's door locks and freeze, blocking key access. This very simple but effective lock de-icer uses a thin retractable metal rod heated up by two AAA batteries (not included). When the rod is extended, it heats up in less than a minute; then slip it slowly into the lock, which takes under a minute more to thaw. The 2 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch case also functions as a tiny flashlight and key ring, and weighs barely 2 ounces.

Car Lock De-Icer (515031) is $8.98 from the Miles Kimball Catalog; tel. (800) 546-2255.

Casserole to go: You are invited to a potluck dinner on a cold night. Bring a casserole. Better still, bring your casserole all dressed up in one of these insulated plaid carriers. The zippered nylon carriers have adjustable inside straps to secure the dish and outside straps for carrying. They are available in a round model that accommodates up to a 9-inch-diameter covered dish or a rectangular model that fits up to a 9-inch by 13-inch dish. These make great house gifts. Every time I give one to my hosts, everyone around wants to know where to get more.

Round Casserole Carrier (026061) is $22.99, rectangular carrier (026071), $24.99 from the Container Store; tel. (800) 733-3532.

Warmer hands: No matter how toasty gloves may seem in the store, I never seem to be able to keep my hands warm enough in really cold weather, especially if wind is also a problem. Polartec, a manufacturer of soft, lightweight polyester fleece jackets and pants has introduced highly insulated gloves in its wind-resistant Windbloc Series. Two layers of fleece are bonded by a thin breathable/flexible windproof barrier, then treated with a water-repellent finish, to shed light rain and snow. Unlike wool, polyester fleece dries quickly and easily machine washes without wool's inevitable reshaping problems. The gloves have synthetic suede palms and thumb patches for easier gripping and to cut back on wear and tear. These worked for me.

Windbloc Gloves (F600-916) are $30 from REI; tel. (800) 426-4840.

Skiers' little helper: High up on the slopes is no place to discover your ski equipment needs adjustment, but you don't exactly have a lot of room on your person to carry a tool box. The ever-inventive Wenger Swiss Army Knife folks have developed a model that has all the usual implements plus some more specifically geared to skiers' needs. The knife includes a fold-out ski wax scraper, Phillips and flat head screwdrivers to tighten bindings, double cut saw, large blade, reamer/awl, nail file, can opener, bottle opener, tweezers, toothpick and corkscrew .

Wenger Swiss Army Skier Knife is $57 at sporting goods stores. For an area store, call (800) 447-7422.

Gear & Gadgets appears the first week of every month.

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