The world’s only battery-powered chalk bag, the Hot Forge Heated Chalk Bag has been the biggest upgrade to my enjoyment and performance on cold climbing days. My hands have always been quick to go numb, and this techy chalk bag brings a little relief and some blood back to my wooden fingers.
I like to run the Hot Forge full-blast. If I’m diligent about turning it off as soon as I’m back on the ground, the battery easily lasts through a day of climbing. If I want to stretch a charge for a full weekend I have to drop down to a lower setting.
For a first stab at this technology, the Hot Forge feels slightly clunky and heavy. It’s missing some modern amenities like USB charging or a back-up battery option. I’m hoping there’s a lighter, sweeter, and hotter 2.0 in the future.
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Super/DS Climb Down Hoody
Here is a versatile mid-weight puffy that you never have to take off.
The Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Climb Down Hoody is stretchy enough to actually climb in. I’ve bouldered entire days without taking this hoody off. The shell has enough honest to goodness spandexy stretchiness that it doesn’t impede movement. And the insulation scales back to a lighter, more breathable synthetic in the underarms that prevents overheating.
The shell fabric is more durable and less snag-prone than a standard puffy coat, so go ahead and beached-whale that top out. Without a DWR, this piece doesn’t do well in the rain, but neither does sandstone and we still love it. My only request would be a two-way zipper for belaying.
Honestly, where has this technology been all my life?
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Ghost Whisperer Down Pant
I love the look of climbers insulated to the hilt on top, while the bottom half is clad in nothing more than a few millimeters of lycra leggings. Maybe it’s time to stop dressing like a top-heavy popsicle, and show your legs a little love.
Down pants are a go-to for savvy winter warriors, and I love the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Pants because they’re warm, pack down small and are reasonably trim. The fit is good, with a long zipper at the ankle so I can get them off over my shoes. They slide over my harness easily, and the zipper and snap fly is ideal for whipping the gri-gri out. They’re sized to fit over a base layer pant, so no need to size up.
My body can only generate a few measly BTU’s on its own. So on frigid days I like to pack along some extra heat in the form of a hot beverage.
The Yeti Rambler Bottle with the 5oz Cup Cap accessory is a classic-style pourable thermos with its own insulated cup, which is nice for sipping and sharing.
The lid comes apart fully to clean, with no sneaky crevices, and Rambler Bottles have a generous, easy-to-scrub wide mouth. This set-up keeps my tea hot hot hot all day. And, the best part is that in warm weather I just switch back to the normal bottle cap and the Rambler is just a great insulated water bottle.
This winter Patagonia launched the Macro Puff line, a fatter, warmer option to the Micro Puff, stuffed with more of the same great synthetic down-like PlumaFill insulation. I’ve been wearing my Macro Puff Hoody for everything from chilly days of bouldering, to really cold approaches and it can go toe-to-toe with any of my down jackets on warmth to weight.
For a synthetic fill, the Macro Puff compresses well, but doesn’t quite match the puffer-fish-like packability of real down.
This is my top choice for days when I know I’ll be more active, or when the sun might warm things up a bit, but I still want a full-on warm layer. I also really like that I can toss it in the washer and dryer when my toddler smears peanut butter on it.
When it’s freeze-your-nose-hairs cold, I’ll layer long underwear bottoms beneath my pants. I really like Kari Traa’s line of unabashedly feminine merino-wool base layers. Kari Traa is a female-founded Norwegian brand that offers a range of colorful options in inclusive sizing from XS-4XL, because everyone deserves to have underwear they’re psyched on. The fun pink/burgundy Scandinavian-inspired pattern makes me happy every time I wear them, even if the weather is miserable.
Standard leather belay gloves don’t provide much insulation for your frozen digits between pitches. Enter the Metolius Insulated Belay Glove, a lightly insulated and stretchy glove that still provides full dexterity at the belay. The synthetic palm is grippy on the rope (and vegan friendly) and thus far has worn as well as leather gloves. An added bonus is the all-black design, because a belay glove is destined to filthiness.
A vest is one of my favorite cold-weather layers. Yes, they’re kinda dorky and tech bros can’t get enough of them, but vests are really effective at adding warmth without bulk. The OR Melody Hybrid Vest combines synthetic insulation down the front and back with stretchy side panels and hem.