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Winter sports clothing has a reputation for being ugly, boring, and expensive as heck — rightfully, to be honest. If you need gear gear, it’s usually easy to rent skis, boots, snowboards, ice skates, sleds, snowshoes, helmets, and the like. But getting hold of the actual clothes for your mountain and backcountry pursuits can be frustrating at best, and a real barrier to entry at worst.
The fact of the matter is that any technical sports gear designed for hard physical activity in extremely cold temperatures will probably never be dirt cheap. If you just need something warm and waterproof to walk your dogs in when it’s sleeting, Amazon Prime the best-reviewed stuff and you’re set. But if you’ll be skiing whiteout conditions out west, you probably want the safest, warmest gear you can get. Hypothermia is no joke, people.
Thrifting is a great option, as is borrowing from friends. But if you want some winter sports clothing of your own and don’t want to pay full price for it, here are some places to start.
Start with multibrand retailers, outlets, and resale sites
At Moosejaw Outlet, everything is on sale. That doesn’t mean it’s cheap, but it’s a serious improvement from full price. For starters, the Arcteryx Women’s Ceva Jacket, a great shell option for mild-weather mountain sports, will run you $113.99 (down from $228.95). Check out the Moosejaw name brand for items like the Women’s Mt. Elliott Insulated Waterproof Pant ($97.30).
The department store’s discount chain is the ideal place to get big-name brands for less, which makes it good for bigger purchases like a snowboard jacket or ski pants. Right now, you can snag Spyder Eacho Tailored Ski Pants for $255 (down from $425) and the Spyder Jewel Soft Jacket fleece for $49 (down from $99).
This no-frills site is a place for outdoor enthusiasts to sell gear they no longer need. The photography varies, so it can be difficult to see some of the items properly, but you can contact sellers directly with queries and requests. You can navigate by “new” or “used,” and if you’re patient, you may well come across some gems, like a new-with-tags Salomon ski jacket in a women’s medium ($228, down from $400).
Currently, this site is ski bib heaven — ski bibs being the snow overalls you want to wear if you plan to ski in powder, get cold easily, or have trouble with your trousers sliding down. Hello, White Sierra Squaw Valley Snow Bib ($30, down from $60). Greetings, Boulder Gear Pinnacle Ski Bib Overalls ($50, down from $90).
Again, these items aren’t cheap. But they are cheaper, and REI Garage runs sales and promos pretty regularly. Good finds include The North Face Freedom LRBC Insulated Snow Pants ($120, were $160), this Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket ($97, was $139), and this Smith Holt Snow Helmet ($45, was $70).
Dick’s is a great bet for accessories, like the Giro Adult Bevel Snow Helmet ($39, down from $65), Burton Women’s Weekend Socks ($20, down from $26), and this Under Armour Fitted ColdGear Mockneck Shirt ($35, down from $50). Plus, the site is currently offering free shipping with no minimum purchase.
But don’t forget about brand websites
Looking for some base layers? L.L.Bean’s Polartec Power Dry Stretch Base Layer, Midweight Long-Sleeve Crew ($40) and Power Dry Stretch Base Layer, Midweight Pants ($40) have moisture-wicking technology, and the Heat Keepers Everyday Long Underwear Set ($50) traps body heat, making them ideal for those less-active-but-still-freezing-cold days.
For mountain sports, you want goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV rays bouncing off the snow... and we all know optical items can get pricey. The Bollé Mojo goggle ($24) has a double lens, UV protection, anti-fog coating, and a special flow-tech venting system that helps stop moisture from building up inside the lens. If sunglasses are more your style, they have a variety of those too.
There are three tiers to the Uniqlo Heattech line: Heattech, Heattech Extra Warm, and Heattech Ultra Warm. The Heattech Extra Warm Leggings ($14.90, down from $19.90) make a nice, lightweight base layer; try the Ultra Warm Leggings ($24.90) for something thicker. Uniqlo also offers fleeces perfect for layering, like this Fleece Long-Sleeve Full-Zip Jacket ($19.90). If you’re shopping here anyway, toss the Heattech Full Neck Warmer ($9.90) into your basket — it’ll help with wind chill.