Getting Out with the Right Gear

No complaints from this crew

I reached a turning point about 10 years ago. After the good times of fort building and snowball fights and then introducing my sons to fort building and snowball fights, I’d come to disdain the coldest season. I’d complain through most of it and spend hours hugging the woodstove, wishing I didn’t have to go back out into the godforsaken cold and dark.

Finally, I told myself, “quit yer bitchin’ and embrace it.”

So, I did.

While it’s true, I don’t do much horse riding (mostly I get nervous about slipping on the ice), I do get out a lot. The key, I’ve found, is to shake off old excuses with good gear and attitude.

I have gaiters for breaking trail in deep snow, a great day pack for extra layers, a rechargeable handwarmer, snacks for me and the dogs, and a hot drink for those hours-long outings.

I have Patagonia’s Windshield Soft Shell Pants, the simple, deceptively well-designed running pants that have me effectively dismissing any last excuse-making.

Neither tights nor sweats, these pants feature distinct front and back panels. The fronts are polyester and sealed with a windproof finish while the back panels are a 85 percent polyester, 15 percent Spandex blend.

Unless you’re doing a lot of backwards running, this means you’re shielded and warmer in the winter wind (and the wind you generate by going forward so darn fast), while benefitting from the more breathable, stretchy back panel.

They are decidedly warmer and more breathable than the majority of running tights, even though they weigh the same, about 300 grams. Patagonia has managed to get the fit perfectly; they look good and accommodate any athletic movement. During hours of running and skiing, I never had to pull the pant legs down or pull up the waistline.

They fall below the waist and are cut like slim (not skinny) jeans. I love the zippered pockets. which are placed right on the side seam and the broad, comfortable waistband with draw cord. The pants come with no excuses, and now, neither do I.

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