You are absolutely right about Columbia, I tried for years to avoid paying the prices, but my husband bought me a good double layer coat several years
ago, and it outperforms my Carhartt in the coldest temps ( -35 to -40).
They are expensive but worth it! I have also found (surprisingly enough) that my Bog rain boots are year round now for me. I also have a pair of
Columbia snow boots, but since I bought my Bogs I haven't needed to pull them out. The Bogs are neoprene lined hardcore rubber boots. There are no
sweat issues in the winter, and they come up to the top of my calf so they keep me drier than any snow boots. I swear by Carhartts quality as well,
they are good in the cold and rough enough to hold up to the work that needs to be done. I refuse to split wood in my Columbia jacket, the fabric will
tear much easier, I already have one duct taped patch on it.
Layers, layers, layers!!!! I use the cheap stretchy gloves as a liner for our good waterproof gore-tex gloves and it creates an extra air space for
insulation, and they are easy to carry extras, you can always have dry hands inside no matter what. Silk long johns are also one of the biggest perks
to playing in the snow, warm, soft, lightweight and they feel so nice. I also agree with everyone on the fleece, it's lightweight, cheap, soaks up
little if no moisture, and the kids like all of the cool colors and patterns, you can please everyone there. It is also super easy to work with, you
can make anything from a simple pattern. I have a serger, any heavier sewing machine should work, I would not recommend using a smaller craft machine
on it though, I won't tell you how I know that either!
I don't camp in the winter, and kids have prevented any long snowmachine trips and such, so I am no expert, but I do keep a 0 degree rated sleeping
bag and fleece and wool blankets in my car in the winter, again the layering principle works here too. I have discovered that anything that will
create air spaces inside of your clothing, gear or whatever will raise the insulation factor by almost 1 and a half times more than just the fabric
As a side note to Mystik Mushroom, yes they do still make the head socks, I happen to know my honey got me a nice one for Christmas....shhh!