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Gear Picks of the Year: Snow

1. The Down Jacket
In a market flooded with ultralight down jackets, it's hard to find one that stands out. Enter The North Face Catalyst. Stuffed with 800-fill down and loaded with convenient features—insulated hood, multiple pockets, cinchable hem to keep out the snow—the jacket packs to nearly nothing and comes in at a barely there 16.3 ounces (462 grams) ($250;

2. The Goggles
Goggle technology is so universally good these days, the deciding factor is normally style. That considered, the Scott Limited Edition Alibi Sakura is the pair for 2008. 'Course, should you care about the tech, it's helmet-compatible, spherically shaped, and treated with anti-fog ($119;

3. The Avalanche Transceiver
Think of the Ortovox S1 avalanche transceiver as an insurance policy. With a crisp LED screen that displays both burial site and depth, it can help you locate avalanche victims faster than any other unit. What's more, the digital, three-antennaed S1 is particularly adept at finding multiple skiers—something no other transceiver can boast ($500;

4. The Snowboard
Freestyle snowboards aren't known for their grip—terrain parks usually reward flex instead—but the Gnu Altered Genetics uses a serrated steel edge underfoot to provide amazing control. Called Magne Traction, it gives the board a versatility that can take you from a rail slide to the iciest couloir ($600;

5. The Midlayer
Smooth on the outside, fuzzy on the inside, the women's Nau Indulgent midlayer is like a sheepskin turned inside out. But PETA can chill, because this fitted piece is knit entirely from recycled polyester derived from soda bottles ($160;

6. The Ski
In a crowded field of skis, each year one rises above the rest. This season it's the K2 Apache Coomba, named for late, legendary guide Doug Coombs. With a fat 135-mm tip and beefy 102-mm waist, the ski is unparalleled at floating through the light, the wet, the deep, and the crud ($650;

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