Welcome to another installment of Editor’s Review from FREESKIER. Each week our editorial staff provides in-depth, honest reviews about the gear they’re testing on a weekly basis. Our goal? To point you towards the best brands and products on Earth so you can trust your equipment whole-heartedly and have as much fun in the mountains as possible. Read up on the 686 jacket, below, then visit us again tomorrow for more awesome gear coverage.
In the fall of 2016, I was fortunate enough to break the exciting news that 686 was branching out and catering to skiers—not just snowboarders—via an interview with the brand’s first ski athlete, Parker White. Afterwards, I got the chance to test out, and fall in love with, some of the brand’s outerwear.
When I heard about the release of the GLCR Gore-Tex Paclite Multi Shell Jacket, the brand’s latest innovation that was upwards of five years in the making, I was understandably giddy. But, still, little did I know just how stoked I’d be once I actually got my hands on this product.
Since receiving the jacket in late February, I’ve put it through the wringer via a wide variety of activities: cat-skiing deep pow in Retallack, British Columbia; hiking on rainy mornings and biking on chilly evenings in Boulder, Colorado; and embarking on multi-day camping trips throughout the American West. The consensus? It’s a do-it-all shell that I can rely on wholeheartedly no matter what I’m up to. And, at this point, I actually cannot imagine not owning this thing.
Allow me to explain why this jacket is so damn astounding… To start, it weighs just 16 ounces, feels like a feather and easily packs into itself via a simple stuff sack in the main left pocket. These qualities have proven to be incredibly handy while traveling, in particular; throwing the jacket in my duffle is a no-brainer, as it’s even smaller than my water bottle when packed down. Be warned that this isn’t the warmest jacket on Earth—and that’s because it’s not supposed to be—but with proper layering underneath you can ski in it among the coldest of temps.
Next, I’d like to touch this garment’s waterproofing/breathability prowess. It’s made of 2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite material, which boasts intense waterproofing and breathability at once, while remaining incredibly minimal compared to other bulkier Gore-Tex fabrics. Not a single drop of moisture is getting through this thing, and you can stay consistently comfortable while wearing it due to the premium airflow. Furthermore, fully-taped Gore-Tex seams and water-repellant AquaGuard zippers fight off the elements with excellence.
Well, maybe not. But it makes biking more enjoyable, for sure.
The weight, packability and waterproofing/breathability are all the qualities you need to know about in order to appreciate this jacket’s performance. But, there are a ton of other details that are just too awesome not to go over: removable, adjustable back straps—great for high-exertion days the skin track (these allow you to hang the jacket on your shoulders like a backpack); an antimicrobial wool collar that’s both soft and odor-fighting; an internal smartphone pocket with an audio outlet; an interior mesh pocket great for goggles and sunglasses; massive, mesh-lined main pockets that double as vents when open; a helmet-friendly hood; and an adjustable hem. In other words, 686 took zero shortcuts when creating this product, and that is much appreciated.
While the jacket is totally stellar during active pursuits, I’ve also found it to be great in casual settings. Its simple, yet stylish look and lightweight profile make it 100-percent street-friendly. In fact, I’ve had both friends and strangers ask me about the product while out and about here in Boulder.
With certain pieces of gear, you invest a few hundred dollars and only use them a handful of times per year. With this product, you invest a few hundred dollars and use it every single day, no matter what on Earth you’re doing. It’s absolutely worth every penny and then some, without a doubt. — Connor W. Davis, Online Editor