Gear Roundup: Late Winter, Early Spring Outdoors

As the winter season draws to a close, I’m eager to share my experiences with some of the latest outdoor gear offerings. Over the past few months, I’ve been putting items from Topo Designs, Jack Wolfskin, PATHprojects, and Saucony through their paces, and am excited to offer my insights. From jackets to footwear and headwear, each brand brings its unique blend of style, functionality, and innovation to the table. Let’s dive in!


Jackets

Topo Mountain Parka – $229 (currently 40% off!)

This jacket was an find that I’ve been pleasantly surprised with. Though considered more of a lifestyle-outdoors crossover brand, Topo Designs has putting out some fantastic gear that I’ve loved trying out. This jacket is a 3L technical shell made for wet and windy conditions, and in my testing it has worked splendidly. My favorite feature is the excellent pocket storage – featuring 2 side seam, 2 zippered hand, and 2 zippered chest pockets. Though this jacket works great both on and off the trail, I find myself reaching for it when I’m headed to town in foul weather.

Topo x Danner Mountain Fleece Pullover – $129

Another excellent top I’ve been using from Topo is the Mountain Fleece Pullover. It’s incredibly comfortable, cozy, and functional as a midlayer for all weather conditions. It has front half-zip closure, side hand pockets, a vertical zip chest pocket, and DWR nylon overlays on the elbows and collar for added durability. Paired with the Mountain Parka, this fleece is bomber.

Jack Wolfskin Cyrox 2L Down Jacket – $419

 

The Cyrox 2L is a waterproof, breathable, and windproof insulated jacket – perfect for braving any conditions. The jacket features two unique blown-in synthetic insulations to deliver down-comparable lightweight warmth, softness, and compressibility in a water-resistant, all-synthetic package. What I absolutely love about this piece is the pit zips that allow for ventilation – solving one of the age-old problems with down jackets holding too much heat. The waterproof outer fabric is also impressive, making this jacket usable in all types of mountain conditions. Paired with the Jack Wolfskin Cyrox 3L Jacket ($459.95), a 3L technical hardshell jacket, this combination is ready for the toughest of mountain conditions. When the weather was at its coldest this winter, I was reaching for the Cyrox jackets.

PATHprojects Graves PX Shell Jacket– $139

PATHprojects, my all-time favorite running apparel company, continues to innovate and bring products to the market that are the best-fitting, most functional, and highest-quality you could ask for. They are a small company that makes sure everything they produce is top-notch, and so they don’t release a slew of new products each year but instead focus on a small number of pieces that are perfect. The Graves PX Shell Jacket is a perfect example of this. It’s the “Goldilocks” version of a running jacket: not too bulky, not too light, and not over-engineered. It uses the same Toray Primeflex fabric as their Graves PX shorts (my favorite) which is slightly stretchy, water-resistant, and wind-blocking. It has two hand pockets plus one on the chest, laser-cut holes under the arms for ventilation, and a hood that stays up, seemingly by magic, in even the harshest gusts. I wore this jacket on runs all winter long, sometimes layered with a Pyrenees Hoodie, but often on its own, and was never disappointed.


Pants

Topo Mountain Boulder Pant – $109

The Topo Mountain Boulder Pant was designed for bouldering, but I found them to work fantastically for all outdoor pursuits. They are made of a quick-dry, 4-way stretch nylon that is slightly rough to the touch but extremely durable despite their light weight. They have two mesh-lined hand pickets with a single rear pocket and an elastic waistband to keep them simple. They fit perfectly – not too tight and not too loose – and though they might be a little lightweight for outdoor winter activities on their own, they can easily be paired with overpants or used by themselves in 3-season conditions.


Footwear

Saucony Peregrine GTX – $160

I’m the first to say that I’m not a fan of waterproof trailrunning shoes – with the exception of winter running. Especially in Maine, where it can get very sloppy, slushy, and muddy, having waterproof shoes can be a real gamechanger and go a long way in keeping your feet and toes warm on long runs. The Peregrine GTX features PWRRUN foam midsole for a lightweight, cushioned, and comfortable feel, and GORE-TEX Invisible Fit technology provides waterproof protection with a flexible feel. Additionally, the PWRTRAC rubber outsole and rock guard ensure maximum traction and grip on rugged terrain. I wore these dozens of times throughout the winter and was never disappointed. These are worth a serious look.

Topo x Danner Free Spirit Boot – $230

In conjunction with Topo Designs, renowned bootmaker Danner released a special-edition version of their Free Spirit boot which is a retro-looking, but modern-featured hiking boot made for the streets or the trail. They feature a custom colorway and a suede and textile upper. The GORE-TEX waterproof liner provides breathability in wet conditions, and the removable Ortholite footbed adds support for long hikes. I love that they use a Vibram outsole with Megagrip technology and a stitchdown heel to give that extra stability needed on rocky terrain. These have been my go-to choice of footwear for non-running outdoor activities this winter, and I also find myself putting them on to run errands. Superb quality and styling all around. Pair them with the Topo Town Socks ($24) for some added warmth and comfort!


Headwear

Topo Designs Fleece Cap – $39

I know how funky these hats can appear, but I’d be lying if I said Topo didn’t pull it off. Somehow they managed to produce something that is both warm and stylish without making you look like Elmer Fudd. This super soft and cozy microfleece worked great on those sunny winter days when a little extra sun protection was needed.

PATHprojects Rokko Beanie – $38

Another excellent product released by PATHprojects this year was the Rokko beanie. In general, I don’t care for beanies because the material always makes my head itch so I end up taking it off anyway, rendering it useless. Somehow, PATH found an ultrasoft wool blend that manages to regulate temperature without being uncomfortable. Though it works perfectly for super cold runs, I found myself wearing this more casually than anything because it looks and feels so good.


Final Thoughts

This winter I’ve had the pleasure of trying out a number of great products from Topo Designs, Jack Wolfskin, PATHprojects, and Saucony – all of which have been quite impressive. Topo is absolutely crushing the trail-lifestyle crossover niche, while Jack Wolfskin continues to put out impressive technical outerwear. Perennial favorite PATHprojects just keeps getting better, and Saucony is making great strides at cornering an important section of the trailrunning market.

As I continue to put these products to the test for long-term durability, one thing remains clear: each of these brand brings its unique flair and functionality to the table, ensuring that adventurers of all kinds can gear up with confidence and style.

 
 

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