Here’s our review of the best men’s technical outerwear of the 2013/2014 winter season. It’s focussed on shells that are designed for both big mountain skiing and riding and ski mountaineering, touring and splitboarding.
The North Face
The North Face have a huge range of ski and snowboard related outerwear. For winter 2014 our highlights come from both the Summit Series and Steep Series lines.
Free Thinker Jacket
The Free Thinker has been in the TNF line for years. It’s changed somewhat over time though. This winter it’s built using new Gore-Tex Pro fabric for unbeatable durability and storm protection. It features YKK Vislon zips for reliability, lots of pockets (including two very useful napolean chest pockets) and a helmet compatible hood with stiffened peak.
Free Thinker Pant
The Free Thinker Pant is a nice complement to the Free Thinker Jacket. Made using the same ultra durable Gore-Tex Pro fabric, these pants will stand up to heavy abuse but remain light and mobile enough for both lift served freeriding and backcountry touring. A zip off upper bib section gives seals out the powder on really deep days.
Part of the Summit Series line of garments, the Kitchatna Jacket is a fully fledged mountain jacket. As much at home when worn for climbing a steep face as riding down it. It’s part of The North Faces’s ski mountaineering range and is very light in weight, yet durable and breathable too. It should be perfect for serious ski mountaineers and spliters who, first and foremost, appreciate a good technical shell and are perhaps a little less bothered about ‘freeride’ styling.
The Kichatna Pant is aimed squarely at the ski mountaineer or serious splitboarder. Gore-Tex Pro fabric is durable and fully weatherproof whilst the removable soft shell upper bib provides extra protection and features a handy small pocket for essentials.
Arc’teryx’s range of technical outerwear is second to none. They lead the way when it comes to fabrics and construction methods and have a design process that involves years of prototype testing and tweaking.
The Caden Jacket is new to the Arc’teryx range for this winter. It’s their most complete and featured ski/snowboard shell and is perhaps the most advanced and desirable jacket out there. It’s a little longer than both the Rush Jacket and Sidewinder Jacket and is built using new Gore-Tex Pro with an 80 denier face fabric that gives very durable and weatherproof performance. It’s also more breathable than previous Gore-Tex fabrics. The Storm Hood takes a helmet with ease, there are multiple inside and outside pockets for storage and the construction is the best there is.
The Rush Jacket is a little shorter, lighter and simpler than the Caden. It still has 80 denier Gore-Tex Pro reinforcements on the high wear areas but utilises a softer more flexible 40 denier face fabric on the torso. Like the Caden it also has 3d expedition fit which gives plenty of room for layering in super cold conditions and a high collar and helmet compatible hood for hunkering down on those nasty days.
The bib is making a big come back at the moment and the Stinger Bib is Arc’s premier legwear for serious use, deep powder days and expeditions. Gore-Tex Pro is again used with Arc’s most advanced face fabrics to create a durable, weatherproof and flexible bib. The fit through the leg has room for layers and extreme articulation for great movement when on the ups and the downs.
The Stinger Pant is a regular pant version of the Stinger Bib. Same super clean and functional design. Check out our ongoing long-term review of the Stinger Pant here.
The Sabre Jacket is less backcountry specific than the Caden and Rush and more freeride/ all mountain orientated. It still uses high quality Gore-Tex face fabrics but has a light fleece backer that adds a touch of warmth making the Sabre a great choice for riding lifts and short tours.
The Sabre Pant (there is a bib version available too) uses the same fleece backed Gore-Tex fabric as the Sabre Jacket. The Sabre Pant has a modern, freeride focused fit with easy to access bellows thigh pockets and an integral waist belt.
Haglofs have put a lot of work into their technical winter shells for 2013/2014. They continue to produce well made and exceptionally well thought out garments. Based in Sweden, they have the perfect winter environment in which to field test new designs and concepts.
Vassi II Jacket
The Vassi concept has been around for a couple of years now was originally designed as outerwear that will take the user though all conditions for all end uses, whether that be riding the lifts or touring the backcountry. The Vassi II refines that idea and feels surprisingly light for such a fully featured shell. It’s also long, mid-thigh length in fact, which makes it a great choice for pow days.
Vassi II Bib
The Vassi II Bib is a light and flexible Gore-Tex bib that has a fairly loose fit and some clever articulation to provide great freedom of movement. The stretch bib section has a small handy pocket and can be totally zipped of when needed. The waist is very adjustable to accommodate layers and two large thigh pockets provide plenty of accessible storage options.
Couloir Pro Jacket
The original Couloir Jacket is one of the most popular shells Haglofs ever made. The Couloir Pro steps it up a notch and provides freeriders with a great garment. It’s made of Gore-Tex Soft Shell fabric that is fully waterproof, soft and, due to a fleece backer to the fabric, warm too. The Couloir Pro is an ideal choice for the rider who spends a lot of time riding the lifts and enjoys short trips into the backcountry.
The Chute Pant is a more relaxed version of the Vassi Pant. It’s built using 2 layer Gore-Tex fabric that has a soft mesh lining for good all round comfort and flexibility. The waistband features a nice looking velcro adjustment system to ensure a great fit and those thigh pockets swallow essentials and remain easy to access whilst in the skin track or on the lift.
Norrona go from strength to strength. The Lofoten and Lyngen collections form the core of their ski and snowboard wear and all their garments feature high-end fabrics and construction methods together with iconic Scandinavian freeride style.
This is the classic. The iconic Lofoten Jacket rolls on into another winter looking better than ever. 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro, a roomy and long cut, multiple pockets, a great hood and bags of style make the Lofoten Jacket a quiver of one for your shell collection.
Lofoten Gore-Tex Active Jacket
This is an interesting one… Norrona have essential made a Lofoten Jacket for touring. Gore-Tex Active is mega breathable, lightweight and packable. It’s perfect for the skier or splitboader who spends most of their time touring, or for anyone looking for a second shell to use in the backcountry.
Norrona’s freeride pant; the Lofoten Pant set the trend for bibs with removable top sections. They can be seen on both skiers and snowboarders on powder days all over the world, especially in The Alps and Scandinavia. They have a loose-ish articulated cut, easy to access pockets, full length side zips and a nice adjustable waist that enables a great fit. Pair them up with the Lofoten Jacket and you’ll have yourself a perfect all conditions suit for freeriding or touring.
Sweet have been gaining some kudos in recent years and rightly so. They are a Norwegian company known for making great ski and snowboard clothing and also some of the best helmets available.
The Crusader Jacket is Sweet’s most fully featured Gore-Tex Pro model with an innovative vent system that runs down the centre of the back and 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro that offers total storm protection.
The Crusader Pants are a nice complement to the Crusader Jacket. They are a durable, lightweight weatherproof Gore-Tex pant that work for both lift served freeriding and more extensive use in the backcountry. As on the Crusader Jacket, Sweet have made sure ventilation is easy to manage with those long inner thigh vents.
Trew are based in the Pacific North West of the United States where the mountains are big, the snow is deep and the core of our sport runs deep. They have a commitment to ‘creatively rethinking technical apparel.’
The Cosmic Jacket is a breath of fresh air. It has both a progressive look and is made using premium techniques, materials and has a performance level way in excess if the norm. It effectively combines function with style.
The Trewth Bib is the perfect partner to the Cosmic Jacket and is designed to perform all over the mountain, whether lapping pow off your favourite lift or exploring deep into the backcountry. The Trewth Bib has tonnes of storage space, SuperFabric around the hem and 3/4 side zips for great venting and easy on/off .
Patagonia roll into winter 2014 with a line of ski and snowboard shells that look and perform better than ever.
The Untracked Jacket is made for the rider who likes a little warmth built into a shell. The Gore-Tex fabric used on the Untracked Jacket has a soft, brushed backer for warmth and moisture management. Technical features are abound on this shell including YKK Aquaguard zips, a great fitting hood and low profile pit zips for ventilation.
The Untracked Pant is a simple, utilitarian pant for riding all day, in all conditions. Hand and thigh pockets provide ample storage options, long side vents enable cooling and an articulated cut gives great freedom of movement whether skiing or snowboarding. The 100% nylon Gore-Tex fabric has a soft brushed backer for increased comfort and warmth.
The PowSlayer is Patagonia’s most advanced shell for riding. It’s built using the highest spec construction techniques and some of the most durable and high performing face fabrics available. Multiple pockets provide storage, a helmet compatible hood gives protection on stormy days and YYK Vislon Aquaguard zips run smooth and won’t fail at crucial moments.
The PowSlayer Bib is designed to complement the PowSlayer Jacket and create the ultimate suit for shredding big mountain lines, backcountry expeditions or slaying the deepest pow. Gore-Tex Pro fabrics, advanced construction techniques and a beautifully clean and focused design make these bibs some of the most progressive legwear available.