When I curated my first ski gear guide in 2016, we’d only just started our ski adventure. And you know me — I’m such a gear nerd that all I’ve done in the three years since is try out new brands and products over and over again in the hopes of locking down the secret formula to total warmth and comfort on the slopes. Because skiing in the cold sucks if you haven’t got the right stuff.
We have skied in everything from sunshine and freezing rain at Blue Mountain to perfect 0-degree temps in champagne powder at Big White to -38 (and colder with windchill) in Quebec at Tremblant and Titus in upstate New York — so trust me when I tell you that we put our stuff through the ringer.
Below, you’ll find a little bit of everything that represents my tried-and-true favourite finds. And since ski gear can be a very personal preference, I’d love to hear from you if there’s something of yours that you think I should check out for my next roundup! Just pop a note in the comments. Similarly, if you have any questions about becoming a ski family and what you REALLY NEED your first season, ask me in the comments.
LNDR is a UK-based athleisure brand that’s sold globally — including Canada. Known best for its compression-wear, this year it’s introduced all-weather base layers and an all-weather sportsbra.
I’ve tried the set for: skiing as a base layer in lieu of my merino wool layers; for outdoor winter running, with only an added layer on top (the Peak Performance Hybrid liner, which I’ll get to in a sec); and for relaxing in a spa on heated volcanic rock. In all three scenarios, the LNDR leggings, zippy and bra performed incredibly well, providing sweat-wicking warmth when I needed it; better movement underneath skiwear than I ever get with merino wool; and the ideal temperature regulation in a hot environment. Like my other LNDR gear, it’s also stink-proof and washes like a dream with zero pilling.
As a Peak Performance ambassador for the past two ski seasons, I’ve had the opportunity to try A LOT of its gear. I love it so much that I even sold all the previous outerwear I owned by other brands! But my season-after-season favourites are definitely the GoreTex and slim-fit outerwear and the mid-layers, along with some key accessories. One of the things I would have said early on before trying Peak gear is that you need a neck gaitor, but Peak’s jackets and mid-layer hoodies and zippies all have such high zippers, that’s one less thing you need to buy.
One quick thing to note is Peak sizing. Use the available size charts and try stuff on in person if you’re near a store because sizes are European and therefore fit smaller than a North American brand, plus sometimes you might find yourself needing a large in one style while a medium is perfect in another.
Since retailer links often go dead as one season changes to the next, I’m going to suggest you use the search bar at the Peak Performance Canada site to read more about or order my faves (just copy and paste what’s in ALL CAPS):
WOMEN’S 2-LAYER GORETEX GRAVITY SKI JACKET — how do I love this jacket, let me count the ways… even though I was tempted to get a shell, I had to recognize that I do most of my skiing on the east coast. And it’s cold AF out here most of the season. (A shell is great if you’re out west, and having fallen in love with the GoreTex Teton Shell Jacket in-store, I’d definitely suggest it if you’re primarily a west-coast skier). The extra layer of warmth in my Gravity jacket doesn’t add much bulk so it still folds down into a tiny dream much like a shell. This 2L Gravity jacket is warm in every condition when layered appropriately based on the temperature plus has so many functional, taped-seam pockets along with built-in RECCO receptors (which gives resorts a fast, easy-to-use search & rescue tool to pinpoint a missing person’s precise location) Plus the pink and red colour combo is getting some serious attention on the hill and looks amazing in photos to boot.
WOMEN’S GORETEX CHANI SHELL SKI PANTS — I did decide to go with the GoreTex shell pants, but it was a decision based purely in vanity. Because the design and fit of the Chani pants is sooooo great. However, in anything colder than -5, I find I have to wear a base layer and a mid-layer under them. So if you generally run cold like I do, you might consider the three-layer or padded ski pants, which are warmer out of the gate.
WOMEN’S PADDED TAO BIB SKI PANTS — this style has been carried over from the FW17 season into the FW18 season and I’m so glad because they are an OUTSTANDING ski pant. They fit really slim and the style is super flattering on the booty. I was quite surprised last year when they kept me pretty warm even in Tremblant — which is notoriously chilly — because they’re sooooo thin. But that’s what a highly technical fabric gets you. I also love the stretch they have, and combined with the LNDR leggings, movement is unrivalled.
WOMEN’S DOWN HELIUM HYBRID JACKET — hands-down my favourite mid-layer. Aside from it’s trackable, ethical down fill — strategically placed on the back of the arms and around your core — it’s the right amount of warmth without the usual “sweat” that down products can often let off when they’re trapped between a base layer and outerwear. It’s also got such a great fit that it’s cute enough for après.
WOMEN’S RIDER MID LAYER ZIP HOOD JACKET — I have a couple of Peak hoodies but this one is the one I reach for most. Maybe because it’s pink and red, but mostly because of its soft fleece-y interior that feels super cozy both on and off the mountain.
WOMEN’S RIDER MID LAYER PANTS — I have a shorter cropped version than what’s currently on the Peak Performance Canada website, but I wish I had these! I find mine just a few inches too cropped so I only wear them as a midlayer and never as a base layer. And let me tell you, I would LOVE to have this soft fleece next to my ski legs.
UNISEX STRETCH BALACLAVA — this year’s version is wildly branded, while mine from last season is basic black. It’s SUPER DUPER thin but actually warmer than a much thicker balaclava I have that’s got a neoprene face mask and looks like it should be warmer. The Peak Performance balaclava folds down so small that you can even stash it in your jacket pocket if you get too warm or you aren’t sure you’ll need a balaclava on a given day. Aside from how compact it is, my favourite part is that the face mask hinges, so you can pull it up over your nose or down under your chin with ease.
UNISEX 2-LAYER PEAK PERFORMANCE KNITTED HAT — a great knit hat that’s both seamless and pom-pom-free, which means you can fit it under a helmet.
Darn Tough Vermont socks
In my ongoing quest to keep my feet as warm as possible — because cold fingers and toes are where my ski day comes to a swift end — I have tried more brands than I want to admit in black and white. If I showed you my ski sock drawer (because, yes, I have enough pairs to fill one entire drawer), you’d be either amazed or horrified. To say I’ve spent somewhere in the neighbourhood of $600 on socks would not be an exaggeration. So I know socks.
The best best best pairs we own as a family are Darn Tough‘s. All four of us prefer them over every other brand we own. The pair I reach for the most are the Function 5 over-the-calf padded cushion. The padding and warmth are insanely good. Big B and the kids are over-the-moon for the over-the-calf padded cushion ski socks. Our next choice? Darn Tough’s over-the-calf light version, which simply has less padding along the shin area.
Not only are Darn Tough’s socks cushioned in all the right places, but they won’t fall down, they don’t make your feet sweat, you can wear them for DAYS AND DAYS before you ever need to wash them, there are no weird seams around the toes (which often make my bunions ache), and — most important of all — they’re the warmest ski socks we own. And if all that wasn’t enough, Darn Tough’s warranty is kind of unheard of: full, unconditional, no strings. If your socks wear out, you return them and get a new pair sent to you. For life.
The only issue we’ve had is that one pair arrived that wasn’t the size indicated on the package. Easily fixable.
If for some reason Darn Tough socks aren’t available and you’re in a pinch, the Smartwool PhD Ski socks would be my next pick, but they aren’t quite as warm and don’t have nearly the same kind of warranty Darn Tough’s have.
Merino wool bra & underwear
While these might not really fall into the “musts” category, keeping your boobies and your booty extra-warm is important. And helped by merino wool. I do find the LNDR all-weather sports bra noted above just as effective in terms of warmth and superior in terms of support, but if you’d rather try something on in person before pulling the trigger, hit up a good sports store with a strong ski section and look for one of Smartwool‘s racerback bras and Icebreaker‘s underwear.
I’ve tried underwear made of a more technical fabric (versus natural fibres like merino wool) and I just didn’t find it different than regular cotton underwear. So save the technical stuff for base and mid-layers instead, where they can really shine.
Best ski gear:
Elan all-mountain skis
The first pair of skis I ever bought were Salomon. I had never tried them out and I went with them because they were (a) part of a package deal for beginners and (b) a pretty white and teal colour combo. Please, I beg you, don’t choose your skis based on colour and don’t choose them blindly either. Lucky for me, they turned out to be just what I needed when I first started out and they served me well for two seasons (and for the occasional skier who would have stayed at a more basic level, I’m sure they would have lasted many years more).
I’ve also rented high-performance skis all over North America — including Nordicas (which I absolutely love for deeper powder), Head, Dynastar (really fast if you have the need for speed), Rossignol and more. But when I was buying myself a new pair at the tail end of last season, I hit up my local hill — Brimacombe — on a demo day. Demo days are, in my opinion, the absolute best way to try before you buy. Provided the conditions at your ski hill remain mostly the same throughout the day, you can go out for an hour with a fresh set of skis all day and test them out underfoot to compare apples to apples. I strongly suggest having your dream pair of ski boots already broken in before you do so to ensure that what you feel are YOUR boot and each ski brand working in tandem.
I tried at least seven sets of skis that demo day, and as soon as I strapped on the Elan Interra Power Shift skis, I knew they were meant for me.
Elan is the only brand I’m aware of that has a left and right ski instead of two skis that can be interchanged. It’s also the brand that literally invented the modern parabolic ski. And an all-mountain ski like the Interra can take someone from groomed runs into the woods and back again. The day may come when I decide to invest in skis meant for powder, but for now, I’m a strong intermediate skier who’s comfortable on just about anything groomed and getting better off-piste and I have been able to tackle all kinds of variable terrain with my Elan Interras.
Salomon ski boots
Be sure that if you’re a woman, you’re shopping for women’s ski boots. There really is a difference. I liked my first pair of ski boots, but they were specifically for beginners and there was always one spot inside that rubbed. So last year I decided to spend some money and get a better pair. It came down to a pair from Lange and a pair from Salomon, and I got sold on the Salomon X-Pro series because of the custom shell that could be heat-moulded to my feet.
The important part here is to be comfortable in the store, but buy from a ski specialist who will allow you to come back as often as needed to adjust the fit. Really good ski shops will help you perfect the way your foot feels in the boot and they won’t stop until your feet are happy.
Honestly? Get whatever you want. Poles are relatively inexpensive overall and I’ve only wrecked one pair in four seasons — and it was 100 per cent my fault. Find them on sale — because there’s no need to pay full price for poles.
Bollé Phantom+ goggles
I’ve tried goggles from Marker, Ruroc, SPY Optic and Bollé over the years. My personal preference is a very big, wide photochromic lens that adjusts to light conditions in the moment. Changing out lenses to account for flat light, night skiing or sunny conditions is legit annoying. So last year, I stuck solely with a few styles from Bollé — namely, the Nova II, Emperor, Duchess, Supreme OTG and Tsar — all with photochromic lenses.
I reached for the Nova II and Emperor goggles most and found, both this and last year, that the straps on the Tsar style can be glitchy and you might find yourself trying to reconnect the strap in the blustery cold at 3,000+ feet. Not ideal. Which is too bad, because aesthetically I love them and they even have an adjustable nose band to account for different-shaped faces. The Supreme OTGs are supposed to fit glasses underneath, which is promising unless you wear big plastic frames like I do. So contact lenses it is for this gal.
This year, Bollé came out with the Phantom+ lens, which adjusts in less than 30 seconds based on the light conditions. And, truthfully, I haven’t tried a better lens yet. I haven’t worn any other pair than my Bollé Phatom+ Emperor goggles all season.
SPY Optic goggles for kids
The fit of the SPY Optic ski goggles for kids is fantastic — and the quality is incredible. Miss Q is still skiing with the same pair she got four ski seasons ago. They won’t break the bank either at around $30-40.
Mitts are another category where I’ve bought a shocking number of brands to try to keep my fingers warm. It’s a struggle for me and I’m convinced I have a mild case of Raynaud’s because the tips of my fingers and thumb get SO COLD, SO FAST.
I’ve tried Arc’Teryx GoreTex mitts with merino wool liners, Marmot mitts so full of Primaloft I can barely wrap my hand around my ski pole, a pair from The North Face that a sales girl told me were the warmest the brand made, a Black Diamond pair that the folks at SAIL said they “guaranteed” would keep me warm, plus mitts from Gordini and Kombi and a number of others. Even with disposable hand warmers, I was always cold.
When we started wearing Swany mitts, I found some relief. They’re the warmest mittens I’ve tried to date and my kids agree. I like the all-leather mitts with a digital touch-friendly glove liner inside, accessible by a side zip that also lets you add in a hand warmer — which is imperative for me. Just watch the sizing, because I find I might be a small in one style or a medium in another.
If you have really small hands, consider trying on the XL sizes of kids’ Swany mitts! They’re the same quality and less expensive.
Heated glove liners
This little bit of decadence is something I invested in a few weeks ago and have used in a variety of temps since. The Fired Up X Infrared Heated Apparel glove liners offer versatility because instead of ONE pair of heated mitts, you can slide these into any pair you like. I bought mine from Costco.ca because their return policy is flawless.
There are three heat settings and the packaging gives an estimate for how long the heat will last on each. It’s somewhat accurate but it really depends on how cold it is outside; I find the battery life is much shorter than expected when you dip into those -15 and colder temperatures. The medium setting provides enough heat for most cold conditions, but I needed the high setting on a recent -25 day in Tremblant!
On medium, I get about five hours of heat and on high, about two hours. I tend to ski for seven or eight hours in a given day, so I’ve needed to carry around disposable hot pockets as a backup. One idea might be to buy a spare set of batteries and carry those instead…
Although the jury’s still out on whether these are worth $179.99 (plus tax!), I will say that they’re the only thing I’ve ever used that keep my thumb tips warm. Used in tandem with my all-leather Swany mitts, while the batteries last, my fingers have never been happier. If the battery life could give me a consistent eight hours, I’d be in dreamland.
Over the years, we’ve used helmets from Salomon, Bollé, Ruroc, Giro, Smith and maybe another brand or two I’m forgetting. Because, yeah — we have shopping problems. And nothing ever quite measured up and had all the features I was looking for.
When I got my Smith helmet, I thought it was everything I’d wanted. Until I tried to unzip the liner and it was impossible to get done up again. While it didn’t render it useless, I was annoyed every time I went to put it on and it looked unfinished.
Bern Helmets might just be the answer. They’re by far the lightest helmets we’ve ever worn at only 530 grams (for the adult Heist Brim helmet specifically), incredibly warm, feature a dial to customize fit, look great and the adult helmets fit the Chips 2.0 bluetooth speakers better than any other audio-friendly helmets we’ve owned (I’ll get to those speakers later). The brim is also perfectly curved to accept all of our goggles. And you can even change out the liner and use Bern helmets in the summer months for biking. The only downside I can find so far is that they don’t come with a carry bag.
Nice-to-have ski accessories:
The Ski Strap
This thing is GOLD! And not just because it means my kids can carry their own skis and poles to and from the parking lot. I also find it really helps me, too, when I’m trying to manage a bunch of stuff on my own. The Ski Strap is wide enough to accommodate a set of skis AND poles and it works just as well slung crossbody as it does over the shoulder.
At just $14 for one, $35 for a set of three, $50 for a set of five or $90 for a set of 10, you’ll want to grab extras to account for your husband misplacing one the first day you used them. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…
My sister-in-law was skeptical about something that amounts to a cellular sleeping bag until I lent her a PHOOZY to salvage the pitiful battery life her iPhone gets in the cold. She was shocked at how much longer her phone lasted in the crazy cold Quebec weather.
Big B had a similar experience one day on the mountain; he was streaming satellite radio from his phone to Bluetooth speakers for several hours, and unlike his usual battery-drain, he lost only a single per cent thanks to the PHOOZY. He was using the XP3 version, but I’ve used the less expensive Apollo version also works really well (it just doesn’t feel quite as “drop-proof”).
This product is a must if you find your phone battery craps out faster in cold weather. The one thing to be aware of is that the bigger size — which is what fits something like a Moto Z Play, Pixel 3XL or iPhone X — is really large and difficult to fit into a woman’s ski jacket. It fits into Big B’s XXL jacket just fine but is super awkward in mine. I had to go down a size to make it work in my jacket, and it’s a VERY tight squeeze for my Pixel.
CHIPS 2.0 Outdoor Technology Chips Wireless Bluetooth Helmet Audio
I.LOVE.THESE! Being able to listen to tunes while I ski and take calls — whether I’m on a chair lift or navigating a harrowing black diamond (yes, I took a call on an ungroomed black diamond run last week!) — is a game-changer. They just tuck right into the ear “pockets” of your helmet, provided its audio-friendly. A charge lasts about 10 hours and there are lots of charging cords and accessories so you can charge them up just about anywhere.
Even better is being able to bypass the need to take your phone out of the PHOOZY to make a call to your ski buddies. And the CHIPS 2.0 have walkie-talkie capabilities to do just that. Anyone else with CHIPS 2.0 speakers can be part of a group (or series of groups) and you can speak to everyone in it simply by pressing your earpiece. GOLD!
DryGuy Boot Glove
I get asked about these a lot, and here’s what I say: no, they don’t actually heat your ski boots but they do help retain heat. So if you wear a good ski sock, add a disposable toe heat pack and put the neoprene DryGuy Boot Glove on before you go outside, your feet have a really strong chance of staying warm for a full eight-hour ski day. My toes are living proof. (BONUS: these are a much, much less pricey option than heated socks!)
Tail-Wags helmet covers
Gosh, these things are fun! Our kids have used Tail-Wags helmet covers from the get go and you’d never know their helmets have even been outside. It keeps helmets clean and also provides some resistance for goggles to
prevent slippage. Plus you can easily identify your family members in a sea of snow and ski suits.
I threw the Viking cover onto my helmet last week and, paired with my pink and red Peak Performance skiwear, a friend of mine at Tremblant spotted me skiing from the GONDOLA!
I have the hotPINK SuperFeet insoles, which are specifically designed to support a woman’s foot. I replaced the insoles that came in my ski boots with these because my feet are riddled with issues (bunions, high arches, metatarsal pain, etc.) and I very rarely feel like my feet are “done” despite a full day on the hill. They claim to add warmth, too, but I can neither confirm nor deny this.
VÖLKL family ski bag + boot bag
We use our VÖLKL double ski bag (which had wheels the year we bought it) every week and three years later it’s still as good as new. It’s also so big that we fit all four pairs of skis and all four sets of poles into it! We also have the matching boot bags; each of us has our own and fits everything we need for a day or a weekend — boots, socks, helmet, goggles, base layers, mid-layers, mitts and more.
Disposable toe/hand warmers
I don’t know what we would do without these! Available for hands and feet, you simply expose the “hot pockets” to air and a chemical reaction heats them up — and keeps them warm for anywhere from five to eight hours. While you can easily find them at every ski resort, you’ll pay a mint for them (anywhere from $2.50 to $4 per pack, which means a family of four who uses four packs for mitts and another four packs for feet could spend upwards of $32 per day). So buy ahead and get them from Costco where it will come to less than $1 per pack.
We’ve tried a few different brands and they all work well, so I would just buy the cheapest option you can find.
What’s in my ski jacket?
In addition to everything above, there are usually some mainstays that I pocket before heading out for the day.
I often toss the Kids’ Bars into the kids’ jackets when they’re doing lessons for longer than an hour, and a full-size bar for me since on-the-go snacks that provide clean, high-energy fuel can be tough to find at many lodges.
Google Pixel 3XL
I’ve tried taking my “good cameras” skiing and it’s impossible without lugging around a backpack. Plus I worry about crashing, killing them and injuring myself as they pound into my body on impact. Since getting my Google Pixel 3XL, I’ve been able to leave my Nikon DSLR and SONY A6000 at home because this smartphone even takes great food pics in dark restaurants. Landscape photography in natural light is easy-peasy, and mountain selfies are even auto-airbrushed!
If you’ve ever tried to find room for your helmet/goggles/mitts at a ski lodge during the lunch rush, you’ll know that most times it’s just a mess on the table — alongside 47 other helmets meeting the same fate. We always jumped for joy when we happened upon resorts that have slats (so you can attach your helmet by its strap) or, even better, “shelves” under the seats.
But HeroClips make this a non-issue. They’re super light and compact and easy to toss into a jacket or pants pocket to pull out during meals or après. Each clip holds 40 to 60 pounds, so a big one can definitely manage four helmets in one go if you’d rather not give everyone their own HeroClip.
Pro Tip: I even keep a HeroClip in my day-to-day purse so I can hang it on restaurant tables when there’s no other option. There are so many different uses!
If you’ve invested in top-of-the-line skis, you might want to carry around a Ski Key in case the resort you visit has ski racks that accommodate them (not all do). It locks them up while you go to the bathroom, have hot chocolate, eat meals, and so on.
One word of warning: test it out at the store before you buy it. I had a faulty one and didn’t find out until I had to WD40 the heck out of it at a ski hill one day to free my skis.
Peak waterproof card case
Do you need a waterproof case for your money, ID and credit cards? Nah…but I sure like having one just in case. Plus this one from Peak Performance Canada is really small and fits beautifully even in the tiniest pocket in my jacket.
All about the après
Après-ski wear is just as important, IMO, and I’ve curated some really cute looks over the years. Here are some of my go-to pieces:
Peak Frost jacket
This 800-fill down jacket from Peak Performance is retro-cute and very warm, but so light and airy that it packs down into nothing. Peak is committed to trackable down and you can trace where the down comes from in every jacket they sell thanks to a QR code and serial number.
Lindo F build-your-own toques
Miss Q had two Lindo F hats before I ever had one. We discovered this home-grown talent at the Toronto Ski Show an were instantly smitten. These mix-and-match hats and fur poms come in a HUGE assortment of styles and colours and we love how interchangeable they all are with each other.
Poms come in three sizes and three different fur types and more colours I can name here, so you can alter the look of a single toque over and over again. They’re warm, too, and top off any après outlet. Of all the snap-on/off pom-pom toques we’ve owned (and we have our fair share), the Lindo F ones are the very best.
Waterproof Manitobah Mukluks
I bought my first pair of Manitobah Mukluks two years ago and can’t get enough of them. You have to get the waterproof ones to ensure your feet stay dry, and I also recommend a very thin pair of merino wool socks to keep your feet from sweating, but there are few winter boots out there that offer cute factor AND warm factor together like this brand. (Not to mention they’re an Indigenous-owned, made-in-Canada success story, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to Indigenous communities.)
Damn, these Smash + Tess rompers rock my world! The long-sleeved version — called the Friday romper — is so perfect for après-ski, I can’t hardly take it. Cute, comfy and an instant conversation piece. Throw on a faux fur vest or bomber jacket plus a trapper hat and pair of mukluks and OMG…
Icebreaker leisure wear
Although Icebreaker might be better known for its base layers, I am addicted to their leisurewear. It fits like a dream, looks amazing and keeps me warm on cold walks around the ski resorts at night. My three most-worn pieces include stretchy merino wool leggings with a drawstring waistband, a black slim-fit turtleneck and a quilted merino wool-based mini skirt.
Alp-N-Rock down skirts
I just love the Alp-N-Rock aesthetic. It’s quintessential bougie ski bunny to the max. I still haven’t nabbed a henley shirt, but I wear my down-filled skirt nearly every trip.
Don’t forget to pack…
Finally, if you’re heading out for more than just a day trip, there are a few other things you’ll always find in my suitcase:
- Swimco swimsuit — I’ve said this time and again…there is no better swimwear store because this one has fit guides for every single suit it sells. And they’re accurate! I’ve gotten at least a dozen swimsuits over the years, all ordered online, and each one has fit perfectly. Just don’t forget to add a toque if you’ll be lounging in outdoor pools like the ones at the Fairmont Tremblant!
- Céla Essential Balm Miracle Multi-Use Oil — this really is a little tube full of miracle oil. Use this to protect, hydrate and nourish chapped lips, wind-whipped cheeks and dry nails/cuticles, both before and after skiing. And you can even use it (sparingly) on dry hair.
- Josie Maran Argan Oil — after a recent run-in with a retinol-based product that left me with a chemical burn, I turned to this pure argan oil to replenish and repair my skin. It’s now part of my daily skin-care routine and has made my winter-dry skin so much healthier. (Contrary to what you might think, using oil on your face will NOT make your skin oily.)
- Nivea Nourishing Care Cream — the chemical burn incident also made me turn to this product from Nivea, which had been sitting in my “products to try” pile for several months. It’s another multitasker — good for face, hands and body — which is essential for travel. Truthfully, I was nervous about using an inexpensive cream on my tender, peeling skin, but a friend of mine out west (where it’s always really dry) has airbrush-perfect skin and has always sworn by Nivea. So I dug through my blogger mail and went for it. Combined with the argan oil, my face healed in about a week and, thankfully, I have no lasting damage. It’s a keeper!
Phew — that was a lot! I hope I’ve inspired you to check out a few new products and rethink some of the things you’ve been packing for your ski trips.
DISCLAIMER: Several — but not nearly all — of the mentioned products were provided to me for testing and review purposes. No brand has paid to be featured in this guide (I would never allow it!), and all opinions are my own.