In early March, Freeskier’s managing editor, Damian Quigley, approached me with a simple question:
“Helly Hansen asked me to go to Breck with them to test out some ski gear for next year but I can’t go. What’s your schedule look like for late March?”
It just so happened that I was free, and jumped at the opportunity to get out on the hill with the crew from HH. Earlier this week, along with several outdoor media folk, I was able to test out a handful of 2014/15 Helly gear in great conditions at Breckenridge. Upon arrival I met representatives from Helly Hansen and Breckenridge Ski Resort at One Ski Hill Place’s Mine Shaft for some bowling. I was stoked to also meet, and later ski with, Helly athlete Kaylin Richardson – a big-mountain slayer, former Olympic ski racer and overall badass.
I spent two days outfitted in the Mission Stoke jacket and Mission Cargo pant, which is one of the most technical kits that Helly Hansen produces. Both are a part of its Helly Tech Professional collection: highly waterproof and breathable technical outerwear. The collection is so tech’ed out that Helly Hansen provides it to over 30,000 professional sailors, mountain guides, ski patrollers and ski instructors across the globe.
The shell jacket features over a 35K breathability rating, and has optimal venting to prevent overheating when boot packing and traversing around the resort. It also features Helly’s H2Flow technology, holes in the inside lining of the jacket that trap air and help insulate your body; when the user opens the vents on the outside of the jacket, cool air is channeled through the holes to cool down your body, and also allows heat to escape.
Some gear highlights:
For 2014/15, Helly Hansen has gone through a full redesign of its Lifa Technology. In 1970, Helly Hansen developed the first technical baselayer, dubbed Lifa. The material is fully hydrophobic, allowing it to swiftly move sweat away from the skin to help keep you dry. The redesign, now called Lifa Flow Technology, will be featured in garments utilizing HH Dry and HH Warm. HH Dry is composed of 100% Lifa fabric, designed to keep the user dry in a variety of activities, whether it be a boot pack at the resort, or a skin in the backcountry. HH Warm is made of two different layers, including Lifa for optimal moisture wicking, as well as Merino wool on the outer layer for added warmth and soft comfort.
Helly also gave us a breakdown of its new hooded baselayer offering. The garment has a looser fit than the majority of the brand’s other baselayers, but having put it to good use, I’m happy to report it doesn’t bunch up under your outerwear. Plus, it looks great, and is ideal for looking your best while rocking the aprés scene. Another cool baselayer for this season pays tribute to all of Helly Hansen’s ski resort partners, with the resort names embedded in a collage across the Helly Hansen logo.
The baselayers certainly stand up to the conditions Kaylin Richardson deals with during the winter, who had been sporting the baselayers on her trip to the Arctic Circle (Norway) last week.
“We were hiking between 3,000 and 4,000 vertical feet just to get to the zone we’d be filming at,” she says. “It wasn’t that cold so I was sweating so much. I was exerting so much energy to bootpack and ski… When you get to the zone, you’re just sitting there for a while and you get cold, but because the baselayer is hydrophobic, it wicks away all of the moisture and within ten minutes I wouldn’t be wet or cold anymore.”
Helly’s Mission Stoke jacket and Mission Cargo pant certainly stood up to howling winds we encountered, while also keeping me well ventilated when exploring the resort’s hike-to terrain. The new baselayers stood up to the elements and were comfortable as well—it’s always nice to get some hands-on experience. Soon, Helly Hansen—along with the rest—will submit gear to Freeskier for potential review in the 2015 Buyer’s Guide (coming fall 2014). To see what our editors select as the best gear of 2015, be sure to stay tuned.
I extend a huge thanks to the crew from Helly Hansen, Philip Lavell, Graham Gephart and Brady Barry; Breckenridge Ski Resort, Kristen Pettit-Stewart and Alysa Hentze; as well as Hayter Communications.