Winterland cybernaut 749 

The snow is falling, the base is building, and the possibilities of the coming winter are as infinite as the composition of snowflakes on frosted glass. Beautiful.

But to make the most of this very special season, this winter wonderland that waits outside your door, you’re going to need stuff. Lots of stuff. Some stuff within the realm of possibility and stuff so far beyond your means you’ll need a fourth job just to make rent.

It’s all part of the bigger resort town sacrifice – sacrificing comfort for danger; warmth for cold; sleep for freshies; and money for stuff.

The only problem is that there is almost too much choice. In a single stroll through Whistler you could probably try on 300 different jackets and 65 pairs of gloves. Style and brand names aside, when you’re acquiring the maximum of stuff on a minimum wage budget, it’s important to get the best price for the best quality possible. There is no shortage of Web sites to help you research your Christmas wish list, but before you buy online you should also check out the local shops and stores. Who knows, you may wind up buying gear online, but you may miss out on some unadvertised bargains in local stores.

www.gear.com

This is the uber site for gear fanatics, often featuring discounts between 40 and 70 per cent off the regular price for all types of gear and clothing. It’s not outlet mall "slightly irregular" stuff either. Some of it may be last years’ stock, but most of it is new – companies just made more of some products than merchants wanted to buy. The only drawback is that some of their merchandise is only available in limited quantities, which adds an element of urgency and pressure to the shopping experience.

www.gearzone.com

This site is similar to gear.com and brought to you by MountainZone.com, an outdoor news and lifestyle magazine. GearZone has a slightly different collection of suppliers than Gear.com, and more of an emphasis on rock and alpine climbing. However, a deal’s a deal, and this site is full of ’em.

www.epinions.com

If you’re wary of the ready prognosis of sales staff when buying skis or a snowboard, you might want to get a second opinion from an ordinary consumer. There are hundreds of review categories on epinions.com, including skiing and snowboarding, which cover everything from clothes, to boots, to bindings to board(s). Sometimes companyies plant reviews about their own products, but these are fairly easy to spot. "This board rides like a dream. It’s not for first timers, because it can carve and jump like crazy, but if you’re an intermediate, it will definitely improve you’re riding," would be an obvious plant. "I like it, but I know it’s going to fall apart on me before the season’s over," is an honest epinion. Usually there is more than one epinion on any given product, so you can pick and choose your sources.

www.smartmogul.com

This is the homepage of Smart Mogul Skiing camps and clothing, owned and operated by mogul champion John Smart. This Whistler business makes clothes for new school freeskiers and mogul competitors, and until this year, sold only to camp participants. This year they’re expanding their horizons a little and have even opened up a shop in Function Junction. The style is current, the quality is excellent and the price is right.

www.tritonapparel.com

You won’t find Triton Apparel in any of the local stores, but on the backs of snowboarders, skiers and snowmobilers who know good quality stuff when they see it. It’s owned by Chris Armstrong, a long-time Whistler resident who spends long days ripping around the backcountry with a snowboard on the back of his sled. He built his clothing to be tough enough to withstand extreme environments and his own active lifestyle.

More local "stuff" merchants will follow in future Cybernauts. If you know of a Whistler business that should be listed, contact us at sports@pique.bc.ca.

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