John Bennett

We’re already halfway through February, and yet some places here in the US are only now getting visited by Old Man Winter (who appears to be in a mood at the moment). Thus, now would be a good time to break out the winter gear.

If there’s anything you’re not already stocked up on, this list of recommendations will hopefully give you some good ideas and help you weather (heh) this cold season.

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The SnowBow snow shovel. ($40)

The SnowBow snow shovel. ($40)

Photo: Art Illman, MetroWest Daily News

SnowBow Ergonomic Snow Shovel »

The SnowBow is an interesting-looking shovel, but one you and your back (maybe even your heart) may come to love when it’s time to clear your sidewalk and driveway.

It features an aircraft-grade aluminum shaft, a signature semi-flexible bow-shaped handle (brightly powder-coated in neon safety orange) attached at the top and bottom — which allows for both the plowing and tossing of snow, with little or no bending required — and a sturdy plastic blade with a galvanized steel edge to dig into ice.

Telescoping Ice Scraper + Snow Broom »

This curved ice scraper + snow broom can extend from 36″ to 50″ so you easily reach across a windshield or brush snow off your car roof. The scraper works excellently, not much else to say about it. The broom swivels around for push-or-pull use, but watch out using those bristles on car paint — they can leave scratches behind if you’re not careful.

EnergyFlux 4400mAh Rechargeable Double-Sided Hand Warmer + USB External Battery Pack »

If your hands are easily prone to getting cold when you go outside in winter, you already know the value of a good hand warmer. This EnergyFlux hand warmer + battery pack will keep your hands feeling nice and toasty for over six hours on a single charge, or if you like, you can devote a good chunk of the internal battery to recharging your iPhone.

If you’d like to read more about this nifty little gadget, The Wirecutter has an in-depth review with comparisons to other hand warmers. They mention an important fact about the EnergyFlux:

The metal surface gets too hot to touch directly, reaching temps of up to 124 degrees (F) when running on the high setting. Placing the warmer inside the included sleeve brought that down to a toasty, comfortable 111 degrees (F).

Beardo's Foldaway Beard Hat. ($35)

Beardo’s Foldaway Beard Hat. ($35)

Beard Beanie »

What, you thought winter had to be all business? Hey, if you’re ever going to be stuck out in the cold, you might as well have some fun with it.

Beardo’s foldaway beard hat can help. Beard beanies are nothing new of course, but this one stands out a bit thanks to the “beard” being able to fold away or detach entirely so you can wear the hat part like a normal beanie. It also has an adjustment range of ~5.5″ for the sake of comfort.

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug. ($27–$39, depending on your choice of 12oz, 16oz, or 20oz)

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug. ($27–$39, depending on your choice of 12oz, 16oz, or 20oz)

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug »

What’s a winter day really, without a nice hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate to keep you warm? And if you’re going to drink such a thing, you’ll obviously want it to stay hot longer than it takes to step outside a few minutes.

Zojirushi’s stainless steel mug is the space shuttle of vacuum-insulated travel mugs. It keeps drinks hot (or cold, if you prefer) for hours — up to half a day, in our experience (not that it takes us that long to consume coffee).

We couldn’t believe how consistent the temperature retention is, and yet the exterior is always comfortable to the touch. It’s totally spill-proof, and even has a lock to prevent the lid from opening accidentally. The lid also disassembles for easy cleaning, so no worrying about gross gunk building up in there.

Suncloud Optics' Polarized Aviator Sunglasses. ($49)

Suncloud Optics’ Polarized Aviator Sunglasses. ($49)

Polarized Sunglasses »

People tend to forget just how harsh a snowy landscape can be on their eyes. Fresh snow reflects ~80% of incoming UV rays, causing nearly double the optical exposure you’d normally experience. Ouch.

Suncloud Optics’ polycarbonate polarized aviator sunglasses will not only protect your vision in snowy conditions, they’ll look great doing it. Not a bad deal for $49.

Burton GORE-TEX Gloves. ($49–$70, depending on size)

Burton GORE-TEX Gloves. ($49–$70, depending on size)

Burton GORE-TEX Gloves »

These aren’t the gloves you’d wear on an arctic expedition or anything, but they work well enough for more normal winter conditions (say, 10°F to 20°F), and for skiing/snowboarding. They have two components, which can be worn together or separately:

  • A two-layer DRYRIDE Durashell nylon fabric exterior (i.e. large glove), with touchscreen-compatible synthetic leather on the palms and fingers, as well as gauntlet cuffs that fit over your jacket sleeves. The cuffs can seal out cold air thanks to their shockcords and wrist cinches. Zippered pockets on the backs of the hands are sized to fit hand warmer packets.

  • A stretchy fleece liner insert (i.e. small glove) that is both breathable and water-resistant. Unfortunately, the inserts do not have the same touchscreen capability as the outer shells do, so you must either wear both components together (as incongruous as that sounds) or the outer shells alone if you want to operate an iPhone or iPad.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. ($10–$40, depending on format)

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. ($10–$40, depending on format)

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker »

Not everything on our list is necessarily for outdoor use. You may end up stuck inside your house due to severe snow, and on those occasions, you should have something great to read.

Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni is a nice, meaty story that will hold your interest from start to finish and while away the long hours. It’s about a female golem (Chava) who is marooned in the city after her Polish-immigrant master dies at sea, and a male jinni (Ahmad) who is accidentally released from an ancient copper kettle by a Syrian tinsmith, only to find himself mysteriously trapped in human form. Each of them struggles, in their own respective ways, to adapt to American society — just as human immigrants would.

The unique mixture of Jewish and Arab mythologies, along with American history, is quite compelling. We found it hard to put the book down after starting it.

7 Wonders Board Game »

In addition to the book above, a great board game can also make being trapped in a house more fun, especially for families. 7 Wonders is a favorite of ours here at T&T, because it’s fairly easy to pick up and each game takes only about 30 minutes to an hour, despite how the game is all about building civilizations. This video gives a good overview of the gameplay and strategy.

Alto’s Adventure for iOS »

One more piece of entertainment we couldn’t resist adding to our winter guide. This recently-released snowboarding adventure is one of the more fun and addictive iOS games we’ve played in a while. It’s also one of the most gorgeous, with graphics to rival another favorite of ours: Monument Valley.