Editors' Picks with Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter - Backpacker

Editors' Picks with Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter

Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter with her favorite gear picks for 2011.

[softshell pants]

Patagonia Northwall Pants

Superb stretch and a flattering, functional fit make these Polartec Power Shield Pro ski pants the most comfortable I’ve worn. The high-loft, gridded fleece interior is warm enough—when worn with a baselayer—to handle the coldest days on the chairlifts. But the weather-resistant fabric is breathable and quick-drying enough to wear alone on long ski tours. Cherry on top: Suspenders and thigh zippers let you drop the seat for on-the-go pit stops. Catch? They cost double most ski pants. $399; 1 lb. 6 oz. (w’s M); patagonia.com

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Rab Women’s MeCo 120 LS Tee

This superlight, soft blend of merino (65 percent) and Cocona polyester (35 percent) was my five-day-straight baselayer in Iceland. It wicks like a champ, is warm for the weight, and never stinks. $80; 4 oz. (w’s M); rab.uk.com


Brooks-Range Ski Binding Tool

Backcountry bindings often need tweaking. This ergonomic, ratcheting tool has eight different bits (they stow in the handle) so I can adjust any binding in minutes. $10; 5 oz.; brooks-range.com


Salomon Minim Down Vest

A toasty down vest is great for frigid-weather layering—you get warmth and mobility—and this is the one I now grab most. The 700-fill down is big-time lofty, and the satiny Pertex Quantum shell knocks back the wind. Fit is torso-hugging, for maximum thermal efficiency. $160; 7 oz.; salomon.com


Sherpa Adventure Gear Hima Hat

A beanie made of buttery-soft Pashmina wool? Count me in. It’s toasty for its scant weight, and all-day comfortable. The bright stripes? They make me happy. The price is worth it. $45; 1.2 oz.; sherpaadventuregear.com