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Featuring 22 tools, the Swiss Army Work Champ ain’t your grandpa’s pocket knife. Although it lacks the ski-specific functionality of the Bakoda and Burton (see Gold and Silver), the Work Champ’s sturdy pliers, saws, scissors, and can opener will keep you alive in the woods until long after your tool-less buddies are nothing more than bleached bone.
We’d tell you we like the Bakoda McIver Driver because it’s been ingeniously outfitted with an inconspicuous, um, tobacco pipe. But since we don’t smoke tobacco, we’ll instead point out the bootlace tightener, multihead screwdriver, and magnetic double-end wrench all tucked into a zinc die-cast body that comfortably fits in your palm or pocket.
The cell phone-sized Burton Kron includes-in addition to the ubiquitous Phillips and flathead screwdrivers and 10-millimeter wrench-a rescue whistle, locking knife blade, bottle opener, and grippy thumb indent for slip-free wrenching (or longneck opening). Though it’s essentially the functional equivalent of the Bakoda (until 4:20, that is), the Kron lacks the precise feel and overall refinement of its slightly pricier competitor.
Ski Socks by Brian Litz
The midweight Rohner Carving Clima is about as tricked out as a sock can get, with soft, high-grade Merino wool; shock-absorbing shin cushioning; and a flat-loop knit for a smooth, seamless fit. It’s even got Outlast fibers, which help buffer your foot from extremes in temperatures by absorbing heat when you’re active and releasing it when you’re cold.
It’s not loaded like the Rohner, but compared with the Silver-medal Sirroco, Bridgedale’s Ski Lightweight is a solid step ahead. The sock’s differential knit puts thicker padding where you need it: on the shin, over the arch, and underfoot. Like your boots racer-tight? This one’s made from a thin, stretchy wool blend.
The Wigwam Sirocco is one of the world’s largest sock companies’ best-selling ski socks. While some of its popularity can certainly be attributed to the $9 price tag, most is on account of the comfort and warmth afforded by this slightly coarse utilitarian worsted wool (70 percent) and nylon (30 percent) midweight sock.
Winter Hydration Packs by Cindy Hirschfeld
Much more than a drink dispenser, the Hydrapak Snowstorm is a 1,500-cubic-inch top-loading pack that hauls clothing, shovel, skins, even skis or board, as well as 100 ounces of water. It has the most user-friendly, leakproof valve of the three packs tested, and the neoprene-insulated tube attaches anywhere on the harness. The roll-top reservoir turns inside out for drying.
The 780-cubic-inch Camelbak SnoDAWG has less storage capacity than the Hydrapack-two pockets just fit goggles, fleece, and a snack. Still, the 70-ounce bladder should get you through most resort-based ski days. Its neoprene-covered tube zips away into the pack strap-keeping it warmer and out of the way. The downside? The screw-top bladder is the least convenient of the three to fill and clean.
Thanks to its slim silhouette, the Ultimate Direction Profile I.C.E. fits under a jacket with minimal hunchback effect, but you sacrifice storage (just keys and an energy bar) and some bladder capacity (64 ounces). The tube insulatioon and bite-valve cover contain silver to retain heat. It works-water flows, even if you don’t wear an outer layer.
800-426 7299, ultimate direction.com