Winter gear: Fudd-rockers 

The cool kids on the mountain are donning 'Gridlock Plaid,' ear flaps and short, fat skis

You thought you had your look set: shiny red Nebraska Cornhuskers Starter jacket, orange-and-blue Broncos stocking cap (from back when the orange was really orange, like the fruit), the mittens your grandmother knitted for you, and the jeans that fit perfectly into your white, rear-entry ski boots.

It worked for you, despite all the raised eyebrows and whispered comments you noticed as you stood in the lift line. But last year, you started to get tired of your look, which you had randomly described to skeptical friends as "retro," "anti-establishment" and "low-maintenance."

So you went shopping and hit the slopes in style, in muted tones of Gore-Tex-coated polyester and fleece. You were transformed, swearing that your new look even made you a better skier more current, more tuned-in, less ... damp. You felt positively svelte, more aerodynamic and fashion-forward.

Well, sit down. The newest trend for ski clothes this year is positively Elmer Fudd, with the most tuned-in skiers and boarders sporting caps with earflaps, faux-looking faux fur and plaid.

Yes, plaid. Brown and gray, pink and yellow, neat checks and revved-up geometric cubes.

But this look is deceiving. It might seem a step back in time, but all that plaid and goofy fur is hiding some pretty advanced technology. And what you wear to keep warm is just the beginning on the innovation front this winter.

Here's a look at some of the best new stuff, plaid and all:

Boards: Burton's new EST bindings

These state-of-the-art bindings bond seamlessly to a limited number of Burton snowboards. "Those bindings transfer so much more of your energy to the board; it's amazing," says Rick Uhl, owner of The Ski Shop, at 1422 S. Tejon St.

Burton boasts the EST system offers a smoother ride, more sensitive connection and truer flex pattern than traditional bindings.

Price: $299, burton.com

Skis: Salomon Tornados

Skis are following the lead of Fudd himself, getting fatter and shorter every year. But until recently, the chubby "all-mountain" skis were really best on those backcountry bowls and didn't do so well on the front side of the mountain.

Well, Salomon Tornados are just one example of fatter, shorter skis that remain stable at high speeds and can carve better than ever. Skis are lighter this year, with more titanium components in binding systems.

Price: $949, salomonsports.com

Outerwear: Checks, please

Burton calls it "Black Dice," "Waverly Stripe" and "Gridlock Plaid." Roxy calls it "Kiss Red Tweed Tooth."

Whatever you call it, it's plaid. Will it still be in style next year? Hard to say, but this year, it's hot. Our favorite: Columbia Titanium Psycho Cowboy 3-in-1 jacket. This has all the tech stuff: It's waterproof-breathable, has a powder skirt, zippered pit vents, a rugged Carhartt-like outer shell and a three-way adjustable hood.

Where's the plaid? It's in the removable fleece liner.

Price: $250, columbia.com

Accessories: Turtle Fur MFS Tube

Proper heat management is all about the neck. Too warm on your snowshoeing trip? Expose your neck. Getting chilled? Cover up the neck. The best way to do that: with Turtle Fur.

The MFS Tube is perfect for neck coverage. It's extra-long and lightweight enough to stow in your pocket.

Price: $16, turtlefur.com

Toys: Nikon waterproof binoculars

You love to scan the hillsides for that elusive bobcat when you hike. The Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 10x25 Binoculars help you do that without fogging over. These binocs are nitrogen-foiled and sealed. The result: They're fully waterproof, fog-proof and shockproof.

Price: $94.95, nikonusa.com

Traction: YakTrax

If you've hiked Barr Trail in the winter, you know. If you've navigated across the mall parking lot in the winter, you know. Things can get slippery without YakTrax. We tried these the first time on a winter hike a few years ago. The trail was steep, narrow and shiny, but we had traction like we were walking on bare ground. YakTrax have a rubber webbing design with a spikeless coil; they're even comfortable enough to wear for running.

Price: $19.95, yaktrax.com

Liquids: Sigg bottles

You're all about the Nalgene, but maybe there's room in your cupboard for something different. Maybe it's aluminum. Maybe it's called a "lifestyle bottle." Maybe its designs have names like "Yin Yang," "Logic" and "Night Garden."

Sigg aluminum bottles are marketed as an alternative to plastics. The aluminum doesn't hold onto tastes or scents, and the bottles are about the same weight as the popular plastic models.

Price: $18.99, mysigg.com



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