This might be the most comprehensive review of awesome outerwear on the web. We’ll take it brand by brand, in no particular order.
Patagonia’s snow range just gets better as they refine it year on year. The PowSlayer range is still top of the bill.
The PowSlayer Jacket has been refined a little this year and is lighter and more streamlined than last winter’s model (link). It still uses super durable Gore-Tex Pro fabric for the highest levels of waterproof, windproof performance combined with awesome breathability. This winter’s version now has two big chest pockets whilst the front vertical lower pockets are gone. A good call I’d say as you can’t beat chest pockets for getting to stuff easily whilst on the move.
I’ve got to confess I didn’t take too much notice of the Untracked Jacket last winter, but I have to say it’s looking pretty nice in this new blue colour. It’s the simpler, more freeride orientated brother of the PowSlayer. The fabric is a little softer and warmer and it has a super clean, modern look. Love that big chest pocket too. Very nice indeed.
A match for the PowSlayer Jacket and an all round bad ass piece of leg wear, the PowSlayer Bibs are designed for deep days and long winters in the backcountry. Multiple pockets, lots of venting, a great roomy fit and super durable and weather proof Gore-Tex Pro seals the deal.
Solid all round riding pants from Patagonia – the Untracked pants look like they’ll work in the backcountry and at the resort. The same brushed 3 layer Gore-Tex as the Jacket offers high-end performance but remains soft and comfy for all round skiing and riding.
Arc’teryx are at the head of the pack in many ways, but most importantly they still make the best outerwear in the world. The new Lithic Comp range is the focal point of the winter 14 /15 line. It brings composite construction and all its benefits to ski tourers and splitboarders.
Still sitting at the top of Arc’s range of ski and snowboard shells, the Caden Jacket is unchanged for winter 2014 / 2015 but still a very rad piece of clothing. Engineered in Gore-Tex Pro with the highest grade of face fabric that Arc’teryx use (N80p-x), the Caden is designed perform through years of backcountry use on ski, board, split and sled.
The Rush Jacket is Arc’teryx’s most popular ski/snowboard shell and rightly so. It uses two different weights of Gore Pro fabric – a lighter, softer version (N40r-x) in the main body of the jacket and a more hardwearing textile (N80p-x) in the areas most prone to abrasion. The Rush is light and packable for ski touring and splitboarding yet durable enough for big mountain riding too. A great all-round hardcore ski / snowboard shell.
Lithic Comp Jacket
I’m super excited by the Lithic Comp series. The jacket looks like a perfect touring / splitboarding shell and I expect Arc’teryx will build on the current line in the future. The Jacket’s composite construction uses both hard and soft shell fabrics to create the perfect balance of protection and breathability required for skinning uphill and riding down. Gore-Tex fabrics are used on the front of the torso, the arms and the bottom of the rear of the jacket whilst very breathable and stretchy Trusaro fabric is used under the arms and across the middle of the back where breathability and mobility is most appreciated.
Lithic Comp Pant
The Lithic Comp Pant complements the jacket to make an ideal touring set up. Again the mix of hard and soft shell materials offer protection where it’s needed and more stretch and breathability where appropriate. Read more about the Lithic Comp Jacket and Pants here.
Arc’teryx have refined their riding pants over the years until they reached the Stinger. The cleanest, most durable, breathable and weatherproof riding pant I’ve ever used. Mega durable yet soft and breathable 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro forms the basis for the Stinger. Two massive thigh pockets and a perfect fit make these pants the ideal choice for anyone looking for a pant for both freerding and touring.
Sweet have always done things a little differently. They have a distinctive style that is more prevalent than ever this winter.
Sweet have camo for the second year in a row – the Monkeywrench Jacket looks pretty rad I think. Sweet refer to the Monkeywrench range as ‘mountain workwear’ – a concept I really like. It’s tough, hardwearing and made to perform to the highest standards. It does all this with a healthy dose of style and originality too.
The Supernaut is the classic Sweet jacket that has been in the range from the very beginning. It’s still made in the best fabric possible – Gore-Tex Pro – and has a feature set that should appeal to backcountry skiers and snowboarders who like things simple but effective.
These are a full on bib for deep powder days. Gore-Tex fabric keeps out the elements and breathes well, the high front and back seals out snow and long venting zips keep air flowing on warmer hikes or skins. Multiple pockets provide storage options and belt loops at the waist enable a perfect fit.
Another classic in the Sweet line – the Supernaut Pant is sleek and technical yet fully featured. Big thigh pockets, long vents and a zip off top bib made from breathable soft shell make the Supernaut perfect for all round freeride and backcountry use, including touring and splitboarding.
You can’t really have a list of the best backcountry and freeride threads without Norrona. The iconic Lofoten series leads the way again for winter 2014 / 2015.
The Lofoten Jacket is freeride royalty. 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro is the best fabric out there for weather protection combined with durability and breathability and the way Norrona incorporate their ‘loaded minimalism’ around the fabric is awesome. Everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Norrona often come up with something a bit different and the Lofoten Anorak is just that. It’s designed to function as a superlight, packable and breathable shell for touring and spring skiing. Gore-Tex Active is super breathable for sweaty ascents yet offers complete weather protection which makes the Lofoten Anorak perfect for touring and great as a shell for hiking and mountain biking the rest of the year too. Super hard-wearing technical riding pants aimed at skiers and snowboarders who freeride and tour and want the best there is. Much like the Lofoten Jacket, the Lofoten Pants have gained a cult like following over the years and for good reason. The zip off soft shell bib, multiple pockets and great attention to detail are what set the Lofoten Pant apart from the rest.
The North Face
This winter The North Face introduce their new seamless technology FuseForm. It’s pretty clever stuff.
Fuse Brigandine Jacket
The Brigandine Jacket showcases TNF’s new FuseForm Technology perfectly. The North Face have managed to develop a way of mapping different fabrics over a garment without having to actually sew different ‘pieces’ of fabric together. This reduces weight and bulk and eliminates potential weak spots along the seam lines. The Brigandine Jacket is designed for freeriding and backcountry use and uses The North Faces’ own Hyvent Alpha fabric to top end waterproof and breathable performance.
Trew manage to combine technical performance with a rootsy vibe that takes a deep draw on ski and snowboard culture and heritage. They continue to refine their ideas and this winter’s range looks full of detail and inspiration.
Pow Funk Jacket
The Pow Funk manages to combine Trew’s distinctive style with true technical performance. Multiple pockets provide plenty of storage options and the Private Reserve 3L fabric has a tough face fabric and 20k/20k waterproof breathable protection. And how rad is the Disco colourway?!
New for this winter, the Beast Jacket is a full on, bombproof shell designed to offer total protection and durability for big days out. Featuring multiple pocket options, reinforced construction and Trew’s best fit yet.
The Trewth Bib is fast becoming an iconic product due to its awesome combination of styles and performance. Super durable 3 layer Private Reserve fabric will keep the elements at bay and last the distance and an abundance of features, combined with a dialed fit, makes the Trewth Bib a great option for shredding powder. This is a bib for deep days.
At some point in the near future Black Diamond will release a range of proper freeride specific ski clothing. Whilst it’s pretty obvious that’s gonna be awesome, there are plenty of styles to admire in the current range of clothing for the backcountry skier or snowboarder.
Front Point Shell
The Front Point is the premier piece in BD’s new line of Gore-Tex outerwear. Aimed at the backcountry activist who could be on a ski tour one day and alpine climb the next, it looks, feels and fits as well as anything out there. 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro provides the armor and whole host of little details here and there set the Front Point and BD’s range in general, apart from the pack.
Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell
I’m super impressed with how Black Diamond have thrown themselves into their clothing line. One of the key products from day one was the Dawn Patrol Hybrid Jacket. It’s made using a combo of hard shell and soft shell materials and should make a great garment for touring with multiple pockets, a great fit, an awesome hood and that combination of protection from the elements combined with superior breathability.
Always at the forefront of backcountry outerwear, Swedish brand Haglöfs have taken a big step forward this winter with the introduction of the Vojd Jacket and Pants.
The Vojd Jacket is the best shell Haglöfs have ever made. It’s light, durable, weather proof, breathable and has a really great fit. Developed was the jacket Andreas Frannsson developed to be his all round do it all freeride and backcountry shell.
Vassi II Jacket
The original Vassi Jacket was really well received being a light and functional all round riding shell with a modern fit and look. The Vassi II Jacket looks just as good; same great pocket layout, same great fabric and that slightly longer than average fit that works great on a pow day.