Gadling Gear Review: Polarmax PMX Hoodie Base Layer

Polarmax PMX Hoodie base layerIt may be hard to believe, but the arrival of winter is now just a few short weeks away, bringing colder temperatures and plenty of snow with it. But the start of the season doesn’t have to mean the end of our outdoor adventures, provided we have the right gear to keep us warm and dry. Staying comfortable in the elements begins and ends with a good layering system, with the outer shell and mid-layer fleece both playing important roles. But the base layer is perhaps the most important piece of clothing in our entire winter wardrobe, as it sits closest to the skin, keeping us warm while wicking away moisture.

Polarmax is a company that specializes in making great winter gear, especially base layers. They offer their apparel in a variety of colors and weights, providing options for a range of temperatures. But perhaps the most versatile, not to mention fun, base layer in their line-up is the PMX Hoodie, a piece of gear that will keep you warm on the slopes or trail, and still looking great back at the lodge.

Made from a blend of Polarmax’s proprietary Acclimate fabrics and spandex, the PMX Hoodie is surprisingly lightweight and yet incredibly warm. Those same fabrics are designed to pull moisture away from the skin, keeping the chill off the body as much as possible. The exterior of the garment offers top-notch technical performance while the interior is lined with brushed fleece that is very soft against the skin. The Hoodie also has the benefit of being treated with anti-microbial and anti-odor guards, which help keep it clean and smelling fresh even after wearing it during vigorous workouts.As someone who routinely takes part in a number of outdoor activities, no matter what the thermometer reads, I found a lot to like in the PMX Hoodie. Its athletic cut fits snugly against the body, just as a good base layer should, but it does so without restricting movement in any way. This combination of qualities is very much appreciated whether you’re spending a whole day snowshoeing through the backcountry or running errands around the block. The built-in hood, from which the shirt derives its name, is also a great option for when the snow starts flying unexpectedly.

Unlike most other base layers, which generally resemble high-tech underwear, the PMX Hoodie is actually stylish enough to wear around town. In fact, unless someone pointed out that it was a piece of technical apparel, I doubt anyone would be able to tell the difference. Its casual good looks wouldn’t be of much benefit, however, if the hoodie didn’t perform well as a stand-alone layer. Fortunately, I found that it was comfortable and warm on its own even as the mercury drops.

As well as the PMX Hoodie performs on its own, it works even better as part of a full layering system. Pair it with a fleece layer for colder temperatures, and add a technical shell during more extreme conditions, and you have all the gear you need for most winter adventures. It is amazing how versatile a system like this one can be, particularly when traveling. Mix and match the fleece and shell layers as needed, and you truly have everything you need to enjoy active outings even in sub-zero temperatures.

Speaking of travel, the PMX Hoodie makes a great travel companion. Not only does it pack small, the fact that it is easy to clean and staves off odors comes in handy on longer trips as well. And when you return home, it is completely machine washable and dryable, and doesn’t shrink a bit. Not all technical garments are easy to care for and Polarmax should be commended for making it so simple for us.

They should also be commended for making such a great piece of winter gear affordable as well. The PMX Hoodie costs just $69.95, which is a real bargain for a base layer that performs so well. It’ll even make a great gift for your favorite skier or snowboarder this holiday season.

[Photo Credit: Polarmax]

Gadling gear review: Polarmax AYG (All Year Gear)

Polarmax AYG performance underwearWhen packing for an active trip, we often put a lot of consideration into the clothes we bring along with us. If we’re headed to a cold weather destination for example, we bring quality base layers, fleeces, and of course a good shell. If we’re setting out for a hot climate, its lightweight, breathable apparel that we put in our bags. One piece of clothing that we don’t always put much thought into however, is what goes under all of that other stuff.

That’s right, our underwear, skivvies, bloomers – whatever you want to call them – play a big role in our enjoyment of our vacation, even if we don’t always realize it. Like any other piece of clothing we take with us however, our underwear needs to perform as well as possible, which is where the Polarmax AYG line of clothing comes in handy.

Polarmax is a company that has made high performance base layers for more than 25 years. Their clothing has been used by mountaineers, arctic explorers, and athletes, and the company has focused all of that experience into creating a line of underwear that can be worn around town as easily as on a long hike. The result is AYG, which stands for “All Year Gear.”

AYG underwear uses a blend of high-tech fabrics, including TransDRY cottons, to be soft and breathable. Those fabrics are also designed to wick moisture away from the body, helping to keep you fresh and dry, no matter what climate or activity you’re exploring. All of that marketing speak means that AYG has been created to keep us comfortable in both the heat or cold, whether we’re on the trail or relaxing in the lodge.
Polarmax AYG performance underwearI’ve had the opportunity to use AYG for the past couple of months, putting it through its paces in the extreme heat of Austin, Texas on a daily basis, as well as taking it with me when I traveled to a variety of destinations, both foreign and domestic. I’ve found that it is not only very comfortable to wear, but more than lives up to the performance promises from Polarmax. I’ve worn All Year Gear on long hikes, mountain climbing, and even mountain biking, and it has always exceeded my expectations. No matter what the activity, my AYG boxer briefs kept me dry without restricting motion in any way.

Because AYG underwear is so versatile, it is an excellent option for travelers looking to save room in their packs and travel a bit lighter too. AYG fabrics are designed to be fast-drying, as well as anti-microbial, which helps to keep them smelling fresh on extended trips. That means you only need to pack two or three pairs when heading out for your next adventure. Simply wear the underwear all day, then wash it in your hotel sink or camp stream at night, hang it up to dry, and throw it back in your pack the next day. Repeat throughout your trip, and you’ll always have a fresh pair ready for use.

Polarmax AYG is available for both men and women and comes in a variety of styles and colors. You’ll find not only briefs, but shirts as well and the line will soon expand to include more colors and prints. No matter which options you go with however, you’ll be glad you have them with you on your next trip.

Gadling’s cold weather gift guide

Patagonia Wanaka jacket coat cold weather gift guide winter Gadling gadlingChristmas is less than two weeks away (and Hanukkah wishes are now being expressed belatedly), and that’s still plenty of time to shop for all of your favorite people. We’ve already covered the best gifts for outdoor travelers and the top luxury travel gifts, so this time around we’re focusing on people who embrace winter.

You know the type: the adventurers who see snow and can’t wait to get outside to enjoy the season. OK, these gifts are also for people who barely tolerate a cool breeze and just need some gear to help them survive the next three months.

However, don’t have to simply survive winter. You can enjoy it – and look good – with the right gear. So, bundle up, pour some hot cocoa into your favorite travel mug (we’ll get to that shortly) and head outside. We rallied the Gadling troops and put together a list of our favorite winter gear. This is Gadling’s cold weather gift guide.

Mike Barish

I love the Patagonia Wanaka down jacket (pictured above). There’s nothing I hate more than someone in a fashionable pea coat complaining about the cold. Maybe if they dressed properly, they’d be comfortable. On the flip side, so many warm coats are just plain ugly. Unlike all the bubble jackets you’ll see everyone wearing every winter, the Wanaka is a down jacket that actually looks good. It manages to combine fashion and function by looking sleek while packing 600-fill down inside. ($349 at Patagonia)

I also never leave the house without my Dale of Norway knit cap. Dale of Norway gear is beyond warm and I could probably wear nothing but their knit cap and still be comfortable outside. I haven’t been able to find my exact hat online (my girlfriend picked it up while she was in Norway) but you can shop for their gear at high-end sporting goods stores and sites such as Amazon and Zappos. ($49 on Amazon)

If you like to take coffee (or, if you’re like me, hot chocolate) with you, then you’re going to want to carry it in Klean Kanteen’s insulated bottle. It will keep your beverages hot for an astonishingly long time. (Starting at $22.95 at Klean Kanteen)

Grant Martin

icebreaker realfleece aspiring hood winter gear gift guide GadlingOur well-traveled editor is a big fan of the Icebreaker 320 RealFleece Aspiring Hood. He’s sung its praises previously and continues to enjoy Icebreaker equipment. The merino wool keeps you warm and doesn’t absorb odor. Great for when you’re breaking a sweat on the slopes, chopping wood or just building a snowman. ($200 at Icebreaker)

Darren Murph

Leave it to our favorite Engadget Associate Editor to recommend the Recon-Zeal Transcend goggles with built-in GPS. As he noted on Engadget, these goggles are “equipped with a Zeal Optics’ frame design with a micro LCD display, which appears to hang approximately six feet in front of the user. That head-mounted display provides real-time feedback to the wearer, including speed, latitude / longitude, altitude, vertical distance traveled, total distance traveled, a chrono / stopwatch mode, a run-counter, temperature and time.” Wow. ($399 or $499 depending on model at Zeal Optics)

Scott Carmichael

For someone who lives in Chicago, Scott sure does hate winter. Maybe that’s why he recommended Zippo’s new hand warmer. It might look like a classic Zippo lighter, but you won’t see any flame coming out of this hand warmer. It uses Zippo lighter fluid to provide hunters, skiiers and Chicago commuters with portable warmth when their fingers start to go numb. ($19.95 at Zippo)

Kent Wien

gadling gear guide winter arc'teryxGadling’s resident pilot loves Arc’teryx gear (so much so that he let us use a picture of his lovely wife, Linda, modeling some of her favorite pieces). Linda highly recommended her Beta AR jacket and Strato fleece. According to Kent, “You’ll be drawn in by the colors and schemes, and hooked when you see the functionality (pockets everywhere). And then you’ll likely take a step back when you see the price. But if you take the plunge, you’ll probably be hooked on their products for life.” ($450 and $175, respectively, at Arc’teryx or much cheaper on Amazon)

Alex Robertson Textor

Alex loves Fox River Socks’ Red Heel Monkey Socks. According to Alex, “Fox River Socks manufactures the original Rockford Red Heel monkey sock, and apparently every pack of socks from Fox River comes with monkey sock instructions. I love these socks for their warmth and feel during winter.” ($12 at Fox River Socks)

Laurel Miller

Laurel gushed about her Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Jacket. “It’s microlight (9 oz.), compresses to the size of a softball, 850 plus fill power goosedown, and it’s gotten me through a winter in Telluride (including skiing, which I usually won’t do in down), and mountaineering in a blizzard on the world’s highest active volcano in Ecuador. I wore a waterproof shell over it in that instance. I’ve slept in it on camping trips, and have generally abused the hell out of it and it’s still maintaining it’s loft, and is in perfect condition (albeit a bit grubby). I got caught in a Seattle rainstorm yesterday wearing it, and it still didn’t soak through. It’s the ultimate traveler’s/backpackers jacket, and great for women like me who are perpetually cold, but don’t want to wear a bulky jacket or loads of layers.” ($260 on Amazon)

Kraig Becker

Perhaps no one at Gadling knows more about outdoor gear than Kraig. When he recommends products, we all listen. He’s a big fan of the Outdoor Research Alti Gloves. “A good layering system is only part of the answer for staying warm. You’ll also want something to keep your hands and head warm too. For the hands, I recommend a pair of Alti Gloves from Outdoor Research, which are designed for technical climbing in extreme conditions, which means they’ll also keep you warm on the slopes, during a winter hike, or any other winter outdoor activity.” ($150 at Outdoor Research)

Kraig also recommends layering in the winter, including starting with PolarMax Base Layers. “These base layers come in three varieties; warm, warmer, and warmest. Most Gadling readers will probably be very happy with the “Travel Weight” option, which is light weight, but still very warm. For colder weather outdoor adventures, such as backcountry skiing or snowshoeing, jump up to the “Mountain Skins,” which are high performance gear for the active cold weather traveler.” (Starting at $19.99 at Sport Chalet and other sporting goods retailers)

Lastly, Kraig loves the Eddie Bauer First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie. “Their Hangfire Hoodie is an amazing piece of gear that works great as an outer layer jacket in cool weather and an insulating layer in under a shell in cold weather. It is form fitting, but designed to move, making it easy to be very active while not limiting motion. It also looks great and is just as comfortable for use around town as it is in the backcountry. I highly recommend this one!” ($99 at Eddie Bauer)

Annie Scott

Annie loves the feel of cashmere and recommends White + Warren for all of your cashmere needs. That said, when it’s time to be practical with a pair of gloves that keep you warm and let you use your iPhone, she has other ideas. “Tec Touch gloves let you use your iPhone and other devices with your gloves on.” (Starting at $20 at 180s)

McLean Roberts

I recently invested in a pair of Pajar Davos boots. They’re the perfect winter weather wear – not so much gear as they are a fashion statement that actually keeps you both warm and comfortable … Think more apres ski in Telluride or Aspen than anything else. Made of real fur and lined with sheep, these sturdy and comfortable boots are both waterproof and durable, boasting a sturdy rubber liner at the bottom that prevents slipping. Oh, and they aren’t Uggs, so people won’t make fun of you. Okay, they might…I look like I’m wearing a small animal on my foot, but at least I’m warm.” ($350 at Jildor Shoes)

Melanie Nayer

gadling winter gear guide stanley flaskWe’ll wrap things up with the wise words of one of our editors:

I love winter. The idea of bundling up in warm sweaters, cozy scarfs and mittens and cuddling by the fire after snowshoeing through the mountains is a perfect way to celebrate the season, in my opinion. But when it comes to the best winter gear, I simply have no idea. I take whatever is warmest from my closet and layer it on, but when Mike asked us to submit our favorites I couldn’t ignore his request.

A good flask and a little whiskey go a long way. I couldn’t tell you what brand my snow boots are or what layer of warmth my ski pants are tagged, but I can assure you a little Johnny Walker Black can warm you up nicely on a cold winter’s day.

So very true. Melanie didn’t recommend a specific flask, but we’ve long had our eyes on this handsome model from Stanley. It holds eight ounces of your favorite warming liquid and you’ll never lose the cap. ($20 at Stanley)