In this day and age, skiers are downright picky about their gear purchases. And they should be, because brands both old and new are creating products that are better than ever, and the bar is continually being raised throughout the industry. So, what do you do to stand out and really give people what they want? Like, give each and every customer exactly what they want? Provide custom solutions, as outerwear brand Northwest Tech (NWT3K) is doing up in Seattle.
Through an easy-to-use and intuitive website, NWT3K allows skiers to design totally unique jackets and pants; everything from color, zipper layout and additional features like hand gators, powder skirts and vents can be modified. And, this winter, I got the chance to experience this design process for myself, then proceeded to test the gear in a wide variety of conditions. Here’s how it all went down.
I started by heading to NWT3K.com and browsing through the selection of designs at the “Inspiration Station,” a place where you can check out past outerwear kits to see what you may or may not like for your own. Then I dove into the design process for the jacket—playing with a variety of colors, zipper layouts and additional features. Colors can be altered on the jacket’s hood, arms, body, zippers and velcro. Zippers are offered in a variety of layouts—from horizontal positioning to slanted positioning. You can also customize the number of zippers on the jacket. As for additional features, users simply decide whether or not they’d like to add on wrist gators, powder skirts and vents.
I prefer fairly simple-looking gear, so I went with a modest, yet eye-catching design. The body and hood of the jacket are grey, the arms are yellow and both the zippers and velcro are black. I took a simple route for the zipper layout, as well, deciding on an option with one chest pocket and two slanted pockets at the bottom of the jacket. For additional features, I only included vents—a feature I simply can’t live without—and opted out of the wrist gators and powder skirt, as those aren’t things I typically desire in a jacket. The less moving parts the better, for me. It took a long time to decide on this design, but moving through the process was incredibly easy and I was able to contrast and compare my options by saving and emailing each one to myself via the “Save & email design” button. In the end, I was incredibly stoked on the jacket in every way.
Once the jacket was dialed, I moved onto the pants. Style-wise I chose to go with bibs instead of pants, as I’m more of a bib guy. Then I went through the same design process as the jacket—sticking with a simple approach that fits my style by selecting a green body and green pockets, choosing slanted zippers and adding leg vents. In the end, I was just as pumped on the bibs as I was on the jacket.
Obviously, it’s important to know what your full outerwear kit will look like, opposed to designing your jacket and pants separately. That’s why NWT3K provides the option to view your entire masterpiece together via the “View Outfit” button. Once I decided everything looked good, I went ahead and giddily submitted my order.
Immediately upon ordering my kit, I got an email from NWT3K thanking me and reiterating the details. To ensure customers get exactly what they want, the brand requires you to confirm your decisions; they can’t waste the time or resources on something you didn’t intend to receive. I found this email to be extremely courteous and a true testament to the NWT3K’s customer service.
Let’s dive into the tech behind the gear. To start, everything NWT3K sells is made of critically seam-taped, 20K/20K waterproof/breathable three-layer fabric with waterproof zippers, practical for any conditions Mother Nature might produce. Inside, a thin, moisture-wicking mesh layer is really cozy and further prevents any sogginess. My very first day using the kit, I was skiing over a foot of fresh powder at Snowbird during our 2017 FREESKIER Ski Test, and stayed completely dry without sacrificing any comfort. Ever since—through rain, sleet and every other type of precipitation found in North America—the gear has continued to hold up great.
Now, to the smaller (but still rad) details: a fleece-lined collar feels like a dream on your face; a large interior bay pocket is great for goggles, gloves and other belongings in between laps; an MP3 pocket comes in handy for your phone, wallet, etcetera; a helmet-friendly hood kills it on storm days; oversized arm cuffs never get caught up on your gloves; double-stiched velcro hangs on tight all day, everyday; and a “free-skiing” fit is quite nice—not too tight and not too loose.
I’ve fallen in love this kit for one, because I designed it myself, but also because it’s incredibly technical and stacks up to the many other outerwear brands out there. NWT3K has really gone above and beyond as a brand to create products every skier can enjoy and I’m happy to be one of ’em. Click the button, below, to design your own kit and, for all you bikers out there, keep in mind that NWT3K is coming out with custom jerseys and shorts very, very soon.