Trial Run: March/April 2003


Soft-Shell Gloves
by Cindy Hirschfeld

1) Platinum $59
Highly breathable, weather-resistant, and streamlined like their trendy jacket siblings, soft-shell gloves are versatile multi-sport champs especially fit for spring skiing. The beefy Mountain Hardwear Torsion Glove keeps hands dry and warm via a microfleece-lined Polartec Power Shield, which keeps out wind and moisture while letting sweat escape. Designed for swinging ice tools, the glove has high-quality leather across the palm, thumb, and fingers. Thanks to the four-way-stretch fabric, the fit is snug but not binding, and a long elasticized cuff extends well over your wrist. 510-558-3000,

2) Gold $40
Less rugged-but still protective enough in balmier temps-is the Gordini Sequence Pipe, made of a two-way-stretch version of the same microfleece-lined Power Shield fabric with a ripstop nylon face. The glove has a supersticky silicone laminate on the fingers and upper palm, a feature aimed at jibbers throwing mute grabs in the park but one that any skier who values a solid pole grip can appreciate. The multiple-seamed thumb is a bit fussy, and a short cuff means you won't want this glove on powder days. 800-467-3464,

3) Silver $25
On the warmest spring days, reach for the ultrathin Seirus Hyperlite, which is lightweight and breathable enough to use year-round for trail running and hiking. Made of Seirus' own Weather Shield stretch-woven fabric, the glove is windproof, with comfy four-way stretch and a surprising amount of water resistance. Soft faux leather on the palm, thumb, and index finger gives some grippiness, and a Lycra cuff slides under a jacket sleeve. 800-447-3787

by Ben Hewitt

1) Platinum $245
Thanks to a halogen bulb that puts out 15 watts, the BLT X-Ray punches a serious hole in even the inkiest dark. The Nickel Metal Hydride battery is rechargeable, stows neatly in pack or pocket, and provides about two hours of play time (pack a smaller, cheaper light for skinning and other lower-speed tasks). With the BLT affixed to my helmet (the mount is designed for bike helmets, though a head strap is in the works), I confidently attacked tight Vermont glades at an hour when most sane people are either drunk or asleep. 604-552-2930,

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2) Gold $45
Finding middle ground between the spotlight-bright X-Ray and the modest output of the Black Diamond Ion below is the Petzl Arctic, which puts out enough shine for backcountry touring and epic outhouse expeditions. The 4.5-volt battery (these aren't available at every corner store, so be sure to stock up if you're traveling) pouch is worn around your neck or strapped to your belt, keeping it warm and thus increasing its lifespan (about five hours). Like the X-Ray, the Arctic's lamp head is adjustable for pinpoint accuracy. 801-926-1500,

3) Silver $23
Palm the silver dollar-sized Black Diamond Ion and you'll be thinking "no way." But this gossamer (one-ounce) light is surprisingly capable, thanks to dual LED bulbs that milk 15 hours out of a single 6-volt battery (again, these can be hard to find, so stock up). You can't plunder the steeps with it, but for short jaunts out the back door, fixing a binding, or digging through your pack, the Ion rules. 801-278-5533,