There are so many shells out there it’s sometimes difficult to cut through all the noise. So, here’s a small collection of our favourite outerwear pieces for ski touring and splitboarding. Some are aimed squarely at touring, some are more general backcountry / freeride garments. All are light, packable and breathable.
Still right up there with the best shells on the planet, the Patagonia PowSlayer Jacket is a great all round option for both touring and resort days. It’s light, super durable and fully featured. It still manages to maintain a clean line and uncluttered look and feel though. In a major breakthrough, for winter 2017 2018 the PowSlayer now has a recycled face to the Gore Pro fabric it uses.
PATAGONIA DESCENSIONIST JACKET
The Patagonia Descensionist Jacket is a backcountry and touring specific shell built as much for the up as for the down. The stretchy 3 layer hardshell fabric is both fully waterproof and very breathable. It has a knit backer for elevated comfort against the skin and superior moisture management along mesh backed front pockets that vent heat even when wearing a rucksack.
ARC’TERYX RUSH JACKET
Without doubt the daddy of big mountain shells, the Rush is so light and packable that it’s great for ski touring and splitboarding use too – especially if your primary aim is powder. Arc’teryx have updated both the fabric and fit for this winter. The fabric used is now a Gore Pro 80 denier uber fabric that Arc’ use on top end garments throughout the line to great effect. It’s waterproof, breathable and very durable.
The new fit is considerably longer and roomier which looks and feels way better. There’s also plenty of room for layering underneath too. Construction is amazing, as you’d expect. Keep an eye out for a full Arc’teryx Rush Jacket review coming later this winter.
Burton [ak] Freebird Jacket
The ak Freebird Jacket is a soft, light and flexible shell built specifically for backcountry use. Made with Gore C Knit fabric which has a soft knitted backer to the fabric, making it great to wear for active use. The Freebird has large external chest pocket which are large enough for a pair of skins, along with an internal media pocket and an internal dump pocket too.
TREW COSMIC JACKET
The Cosmic Jacket has been part of the PNW brand’s line for years. More of an all round backcountry and freeride shell than a touring specific garment, it’s nonetheless light enough and breathable enough for big days out in the skin track. Clean yet rootsy aesthetics, multiple pocket options and an excellent durable yet breathable Dermizax fabric package make the Trew Cosmic Jacket a great all-rounder.
HAGLOFS TOURING PROOF JACKET
Another fully waterproof yet soft and stretchy shell, the Haglofs Touring Proof Jacket looks pretty similar to the Patagonia Descensionist. It’s the kind of shell you can wear all day with soft shell levels of comfort. It weighs a scant 485g too so won’t weigh heavy in a pack.
NORRONA LOFOTEN GORE-TEX PRO JACKET
Although not a touring specific shell, the Lofoten Pro Jacket is a legendary product that is streamlined, light and packable so great as an all round shell for both freeriding and touring use. Gore-Tex Pro fabric is durable and weatherproof and Norrona’s classic design lines always stand apart from the rest.