Photography by Matt Power & Bruno Long
Of course, you want your outerwear to look good when you wear it. How else are you going to maximize your likes on the ol’ Instagram? However, in addition to sleek colors, patterns and prints, there’s a ton of incredible technological aspects packed into your kit. These construction techniques and materials are what keep you protected while you’re out shredding in the elements. Here are our favorite outerwear kits heading into the 2018-19 winter season.
The Purist Triclimate kit is designed to fully integrate with other The North Face (TNF) Steep Series garments. Strategically placed two-way pockets in the jacket allow access to midlayer and bib zippers, so nothing prevents you from reaching your goods quickly and easily. The jacket is constructed with what TNF calls its “steep ergo attack stance,” which promotes a more natural fit when actively moving—whether that’s hiking or skiing. “The body length and fit in the arms really stood out to me,” noted Retallack guide Jon MacDonald. “It was a super comfortable, great fit for me, and I’m 6 feet, 180 pounds.” Additionally, the kit utilizes a three-layer Gore-Tex build to keep moisture and wind from penetrating it, and to extend the life of the garments for many seasons to come.
The North Face (TNF) is debuting The New Backcountry collection for 2018-19, a line inspired in part by the 2018 US Freeskiing Olympic team uniforms created by TNF and as well as the droves of skiers who are implementing terrain park trickery in the backcountry. With a fashion-forward focus, like a longer length in back and a pullover build with serious technical details, the Ceptor Anorak and Ceptor Bib are going to be hot commodities this fall. The DryVent three-layer shell features two zippered chest and hand pockets, underarm vents and jacket-to-pant integration. From the chairlift to the skin track, from the park to the backcountry, this jacket is a winner through and through. “This was my favorite kit from the test,” said tester Hayden Korte-Moore. “The color was wicked, the waterproofing, durability and dexterity of it was also top-notch. Seriously considering buying this for next season.”
The GLCR Gore Smart Weapon Jacket and Gore GT Pant took home an Editors’ Pick last season, and are nabbing another for 2018-19. The GLCR Gore Smart Weapon is a two-layer Gore-Tex shell with a removable insulated liner, giving you the option to layer up in the dead of winter or shed down during late spring. Fully taped seams, YKK zippers and a DWR coating further waterproof this garment. The pant features the same two-layer Gore-Tex build, as well as mesh venting in the crotch and reinforced “kick panels” in the ankles to firm up durability. All in all, this suit from 686 is a versatile, stylish offering that’s as at home in the backcountry as it is ripping the resort.
This brand new hardshell kit from Mammut is constructed to shield you from Mother Nature’s biggest hits, while remaining lightweight, breathable and eye-catching. The Alvier kit is built with recycled three-layer Gore-Tex Pro, giving it the rugged durability to last you many years, as well as waterproofing, windproofing and breathability to keep you comfortable during days spent in extreme environments. That recycled aspect also gives you peace of mind that you’re being environmentally responsible. “It’s very breathable, versatile in terms of water-resistance, durability and breathability,” noted tester Scotty VerMerris. “This kit stood up to tons of moisture that just beaded up and off.” In addition, the use of elastane provides stretch, and a snap button in the pant cuff for crampon accommodation ensures ease of movement whether you’re skinning, booting up a couloir or descending it.
The biggest highlight of the Alvier Armor kit is Mammut’s use of the Phase Map. The Swiss brand utilizes different materials and weaves them in a seamless construction that provides reinforcement in areas prone to wear and tear, such as the shoulders, chest, waist and cuffs, and breathability in zones that need it. The lack of seams ensures a comfortable fit, in which movement isn’t impeded, as well as a stylish look. “I really enjoyed this suit,” said tester Crystal-Rose Lee. “Great for touring, with articulated knees and elbows, reinforced boot cuffs and incredible stretch.” Mammut also employs shiny metallic zippers to give the kit a chic, feminine look.
The BC EverTherm Down Hooded Jacket’s goal: to be a do-it-all outerwear piece that provides the benefits of a lightweight shell and midlayer combination. It achieves this thanks to Thindown insulation. While many insulated pieces use loose down feathers sewn together in baffles or a similar stitching, Thindown are uniformly cut, thin sheets of down that are thermally adept, incredibly streamlined and won’t migrate. And, the lack of baffling helps to trap that heat and increases the garment’s durability, as there are no seams to pull out. The piece is designed as a midlayer/outer shell system, but still boasts a snugness smack dab in the middle of tight and loose for ultimate comfort. The BC Duraweave Freshline bib utilizes a rugged three-layer DuraWeave fabric reinforced with Cordura nylon in high-abrasion areas to stand up to frequent abuse. The stretchy bib features two pockets and is removable via zips.
5a. Oakley Ski Shell Jacket 15k/3L
5b. Oakley Ski Shell Pants 15k/3L
This Oakley kit was a standout for our testers. “I can’t believe how comfortable everything was. I almost forgot it was on my body,” said Sam Taggart. Both three-layer garments feature a predominantly nylon build with a hint of spandex that certainly adds to the aforementioned comfort and promotes ease of movement—perfect for the skin track or bootpack. This kit boasts a 15K-waterproof rating, YKK zippers and fully taped seams to blockade moisture. A plethora of strategically placed pockets allows for easy storage, even with a pack on. As an added bonus, the jacket’s oversized hood provides ample space for your helmet should you need shelter from the storm.
Picture Organic Clothing has always stood for sustainable outerwear development and the Object kit holds true to those values. Both jacket and pant utilize recycled polyester in their construction, a PFC-free DWR treatment and a recyclable membrane. As for specific design elements, the Object Jacket features dual chest pockets with waterproof zips, fully taped seams, 80 grams of insulation and a longer back for added flair. The pant boasts outer vents, reinforced cuffs that boost durability and an ultra-stretchy waist gaiter that came in handy after three days of devouring the exquisite cuisine offered at Retallack Lodge. “The fact that they’re 100-percent recycled really stood out to me,” said Retallack’s Viktor Vilks. “The pants also have great stretch, and the breathability was on point for both pieces.”
7a. Oakley Women’s Snow Insulated Jacket 10K/2L
7b. Oakley Oakley Women’s Snow Insulated Pants 10K/2L
When you talk ski fashion, this is the kit that should come to mind. With a flared out drop tail and an overlap, button-up zipper cover, this jacket belongs on a red carpet. Lucky for you, Oakley built it to excel in a more wintry setting. Both garments don a 10K-waterproof rating to keep out all but the worst precipitation events and are stuffed with Thinsulate synthetic insulation to keep you toasty when the mercury takes a nosedive. Those specs, along with dual, medium-sized chest pockets, a ski pass storage zone in the arm and four stow compartments in the pants, make this a great option for skiers that spend the majority of their time at the resort.
8a. Backcountry Grizzly Gulch Jacket
8b. Backcountry Mill D Bib
The Goat has entered the outerwear manufacturing world. Backcountry collaborated with Flylow to introduce a brand-new line of alpine touring-specific threads for 2018-19. The Grizzly Gulch Jacket and Mill D Bib are both constructed of Polartec Neoshell, one of the lightest, most breathable fabrics on the planet, which is extremely beneficial when you’re working up a sweat on the skin track. Two oversized, waterproof, exterior chest pockets provide storage for your climbing skins when hot lapping backcountry zones, while dual pockets in the bib and three more on the pant provide additional storage. The full-length outer thigh vents and 12-inch pit zippers also allow you to dump heat when your core temperature soars.
8c. Backcountry Pfeifferhorn Jacket
8d. Backcountry Patsey Marley Bib
Named after two iconic peaks in the Wasatch Range, the home base of Backcountry, the Pfeifferhorn and Patsey Marley kit should appeal to backcountry skiers everywhere. The Patsey Marley boasts an athletic fit and softshell bib top that promotes ease of movement on the skin track or during peak ascents. The Pfeifferhorn’s dual chest pockets provide storage for skins, and their placement allows for easy access with a backpack on. To protect out-of-bounds skiers that frequently encounter extreme weather swings, both garments are made of ultralight and unbelievably breathable Polartec Neoshell fabric, are fully seam taped and have a high-performance DWR treatment. You’ll never fear the spanking of Mother Nature again with this kit.