Trekking and Ski Gear

When I buy equipment, I research it intensely and I am sharing my picks below in case they are useful for you. I’ve put these gear picks to the test by skiing (12 resorts) and trekking (places like Kilimanjaro, Annapurna Circuit) in harsh conditions over the last 5 years, with some pictures below.

If you buy proper, high quality gear, it is re-useable for both trekking and skiing and will last a really long time. I don’t have any perspective on style (as you can see from my pictures), and this post is primarily about function and some of the products that I like.

Summary

Here are the main takeaways in case you don’t care for the details:

  1. Dress in layers – you’ll typically need a base, mid and outer layer for cold weather.
  2. Your first layer should be merino wool, if possible, as it’s functional in hot and cold weather and you can wear it for a long time without it getting smelly.
  3. Your outer layers should be high quality Gore-Tex shells, particularly for your jacket. Make sure your jacket has a hood.
  4. Get a neck buff. It’s the most versatile thing that I have, and a lifesaver.

Layers

When you buy your gear, it’s best to buy in layers vs integrated (insulated) items. It’s definitely more expensive, but quality gear lasts a long time, is more versatile in seasons, and really makes a difference to your comfort level in harsh (freezing, windy) conditions on the mountains.

  1. Base Layer: Get good quality merino wool base layers for your tops (1 short, 1-2 long sleeve) and bottoms (1-2 underwear, 1-2 tights), and socks (2-3 pairs). This will last a long trekking trip of up to a week, and a week long ski trip, minus the underwear. For value, I like Smartwool, but my preferred merino wool baselayers are from Mons Royale, which are good quality and slightly more thoughtfully designed.
  2. Mid Layer: You really just need one mid layer jacket. I LOVE my Patagonia Nano Air with a hood. I’ve bought one of these for everyone in my family. I also recently read the founder of Patagonia’s book “Let my people go surfing” and it’s hard not to be inspired by his authenticity.
  3. Outer Layer: Get a good Gore-Tex shell jacket (not insulated), and this is more important than trousers. I got mine from Arc’teryx but their stuff is pretty pricey. I got my trousers from Arc’teryx too, as they have some nice synergies (jacket clips to pants) but you can easily get more affordable trousers if you’re budget constrained.

Merino Wool

Merino wool is the best! It’s so much better than synthetics for long trekking trips and ski trips. It keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold, still performs well when it’s wet and you can wear it for 2-3 days without it getting super smelly. It’s more expensive, and a little harder to take care of as you need to wash it in cold water and hang it up to dry. The performance and comfort improvements are well worth the trade off. Here is a good summary of the pros and cons if you want more info.

Outer Layer

I’m not a Gore-Tex expert (good article here) but have owned a few jackets now, and think they are all pretty fantastic. The jacket I have from Arc’teryx is made from the Gore-Tex Pro material which has 3-layers of material to make it even more waterproof and durable. I really like the Patagonia shells too, and they come in at a slightly lower price point than Arc’teryx. Make sure your jacket has a hood (so useful for keeping warm and dry) and make sure that the hood is big enough to fit over your ski helmet.

Neck Buffs

A good neck buff is so useful – it protects your face from wind on the chairlift or if there is ice smacking your face and keeps your neck warm. It’s a must have on trekking and ski trips. Here is the neck buff I have, which is merino wool from Mons Royale (around $30) and it’s great.


A lot of this gear is expensive, and if you buy it all it can add up. You can almost always get everything on sale; I bought almost everything at least 30% off retail. If you look after the equipment, it can last a really long time. My shells are seven years old and still in great working condition. On a cost per wear basis a good quality product always ends up being worth it versus. a lower quality product. Also when you are at the top of a mountain, freezing your tushie off a little less, you’ll thank me.

My Top 5 Products of 2019

Last year, I wrote up some of my favourite new products of 2018 and I thoughts I’d do the same this year. For each product, I’ll summarize what it is and why I like it.

Nutzo Butter ($20)

Nutzo butter is a mix of different nuts, when all put together has a pretty delicious flavor. It’s made up of all natural ingredients as well, with no preservatives.

It’s good as a snack by the spoonful, in smoothies and with bread. Of all the nut butter varieties I’ve tried, this is definitely the best. Like all nut butter it’s super caloric though, so go easy 🙂

Outdoor Voices ($55-85)

Note: Referral Link (20% off)

Outdoor Voices make workout and Athleisure clothes. It’s a Direct to Consumer (DTC) brand founded by 30 year old Tyler Haney (How I built this podcast episode here). Outdoor Voice is a play on not using your indoor voice and being free / playful.

I’ve tried the cloud knit t-shirt, hoodie and track pants. They are stretchy, very soft and wick moisture well (but not as well as performance tees). They are very comfortable and have become my go to lounge wear and travel clothes. The tee is quite good for hiking, lounging and working out which makes it a pretty versatile piece.

Freshly ($10/meal)

Note: This link is my referral link (Give $40, Get $40)

When I’m busy during the week it’s easy to come home and order food instead of having a healthy meal. I always over-order or order something that is not healthy enough. I started ordering 6 meals a week from Freshly which take about 3 minutes to prepare in the microwave and eat them mostly for dinner but sometimes for lunch when I’m home.

They are the equivalent of outsourcing ‘meal prep’ with a bit more variety and range between 400-600 calories per meal. My favourite is the Cauliflower Bolognese but many of the chicken breast with veggie options are also really good.

1Password ($60/year for family)

1Password is a password manager that keeps all your passwords in a vault. This lets you have unique passwords for all the services you use and also share passwords with your family or colleagues.

I did not realize how many random products and services that I sign up for and try. 1Password let’s me try these without thinking about what password I should use and they have desktop, chrome and mobile apps so that you can access your passwords on the go – sometimes they are a little buggy, but overall this is a way better experience than remembering a few passwords and using them everywhere which is what most people do.

I also use Authy for all the accounts with 2-factor authentication – basically anything with lots of personal data or finance related which I like as well.

Buffalo Jackson Walker Satchel ($250)

I’ve been looking for a slim, casual leather satchel for a long time. Most of the ones I tried were too formal, too big or felt too cheap / or were too expensive. I wanted this satchel to replace my gym bag or backpack which I felt were both too big to carry when I literally just wanted to carry my laptop around.

I’ve had the “Walker” satchel for about 4 months now and really like it. It’s well made, feels good quality and has a low profile. I’m able to carry my laptop, charger and another item like my lunch or an umbrella without a problem.