Outdoor Gear Companies Have Finally Made the Cold Bearable, Albeit at a Price, Winter Series 2 of 5
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO- The dedicated industry to winter outerwear boggles my mind. People in Colorado love their winter, and they’ll stop at nothing to be able to play in the snow. Smartwool, Big Agnes, Mountain Hardwear, Armada, Marmot—all of these brands are dedicated specifically to producing top-notch winter gear, and are constantly trying to outperform each other. Every part of your body can be covered in a piece of gear that is designed to keep you warm, dry, and most of all, moving. It’s tough to imagine what life must have been like fifty years ago for those looking to spend a significant amount of time outdoors—Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay surely didn’t have a sweat-wicking base layer with them when they first ascended Everest. As time progresses, mankind’s ability to deal with the cold only grows more precise and more exacting, but it does come at a price. I would estimate that to fully outfit yourself with a season’s worth of winter gear, appropriately, would be about $2,000, maybe half that for those willing to put in the time to find clothes second-hand or deeply discounted.
It’s amazing how humans have harnessed rational thought to adapt to our environment to such an extreme degree. We’ve come a long way from creating fire to generate warmth. You can now buy ski boots that have heaters in them to keep your toesies warm. That’s right. To keep your toesies warm. Heated boots. We’ve targeted weakness in our environment to the extent that there is now a market for heated boots, allowing us to adapt to a frightening degree.
This sort of gear simply isn’t necessary for those living in warmer climates. Put people from Colorado side by side with an indigenous tribe living near the equator, where clothing isn’t really necessary to deal with the environment, but it is worn out of cultural respect and modesty. The elements aren’t something that need to be dealt with on a seasonal plane; there is no “preparing for the coming winter”. You don’t need a pair of $20 socks to ensure your feet stay as warm as can be. The economic specialization necessary to deal with the cold simply does not exist in places where it isn’t cold. The ocean is free to use for all, the mountains are not.
Living in cold places has always presented a bit of a challenge. There is snow to remove; there is frostbite to deal with. Your pipes freeze. Life is simply not as straightforward as it can be in more moderate climates, but humans are catching on. We're able to deal with the cold in new and efficient ways, and one of the most useful of these is outdoor gear. Love live the companies that make the cold bearable, even if it's going to set you back a pretty penny to outfit yourself. Winter is fun again.