Dan Abrams of Flylow, gear testing. PHOTO: HEATHER HANSMAN

I slapped my ticket right to the thigh of my denim. Kade's wicket dangled from the fly of his jeans. On the lift, we passed pocket beers and a flask. At the top, we mobbed 20 deep, old friends and new, skiing fast—dark shadows flashing in our peripherals—trying to keep up with each other, sending airs and riding boxes in the night, under the bright lights at Brighton Ski Area.

The opening night of POWDER's second annual Thread the Needle, an apparel summit in Utah's Big Cottonwood Canyon, mostly included jeans, earwarmers, and impaired vision. But of course, while a pair of Carhartts might be all you need, it probably isn't all you want while skiing this winter. That's why we invited a range of brands, including Eider, FD Wear, Fly Low, Marmot, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Salomon, Scott, and Sun Ice, to go skiing with us.

In between laps and beers at Solitude, we talked about what's new in apparel and got to know the folks who make the decisions and design the gear for each brand. To see how their gear worked for ourselves, we skied hot bump lines, hiked the Headwall, and traversed into the Black Forest. Two members of the POWDER staff even gave the 2013-2014 outerwear the topless test. Turns out that we might not need to ski in legitimate outerwear (or any clothes at all) on our top half, but it sure is nice to.

Our breakdown of the gear will be in next fall's apparel guide. Special thanks to Solitude and Brighton, and all the brands that came out.