Despite the mayor’s desire to make Aspen a hub for the backcountry industry, high rents, expensive housing, limited labor pool, etc., etc., make it a challenge to do business in the swanky mountain town. Thus, we applaud those who go for it and cross our fingers they’ll make it. The exceptional few survive; one way they beat the odds is by offering superior product.
(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. Contact them about Strafe.)
Case in point: Strafe Outerwear, owned and operated by Aspen hardmen and endurance athletes, Pete and John Gaston. In 2009 they began developing technical clothing for skiing hard and moving efficiently during long days in the mountains. By 2011 they established digs at the base of Aspen Highlands resort. Now entering the 2017/2018 season, their shop showcases a full men and women’s line, good for backcountry skiing and touring mountains far and near.
Lou reviewed the men’s line here. The WildSnow Girls took notice and recently nabbed a test ensemble. First look impression: thumbs up.
This review, Strafe women’s ensemble
Insulation: Incubator Jacket
Shell: Meadow Jacket
Pants: Scarlett Bib
Strafe Incubator Jacket
Strafe Incubator is a mid-weight jacket filled with Primaloft Gold. We especially liked the longer, flattering bodice, tapered to eliminate the Pillsbury Doughboy look. The large hood fits easily over a helmet. Arms are designed with ample length for longer wingspans. A large interior mesh pocket measures 9 inches wide by 10.5 inches high — roomy enough for climbing skins or a big sandwich.
Other features: two exterior zippered pockets, small interior chest pocket, stetchy Lycra cuffs, and hem drawcord.
Incubator is designed for performance activities. The jacket kept me warm skiing laps, but it’s not the huge puffy that will roast you in subzero temps. Nor is it a “belay” parka that’ll keep you warm inactive in chilly weather.
Athletic fit runs true to size. Our test piece is a size small. My bod is small/medium: 5’6″, 120 pounds, arm length (shoulder to wrist) 25″ (jacket sleeve measures 27 inches which includes 1″ of Lycra cuff.
Strafe Incubator jacket specs:
Strafe Scarlett Bib
Women’s ski bibs are a tricky design challenge. Wearing bib pants is nice for sailing thru deep pow, but when nature calls an efficient design for relief is difficult to find. Strafe offers a nifty solution with their halter design and side zip system: unzip, bend over and behold. Or actually, don’t behold — this configuration is discreet, you stay warm and the act gets done with minimal fuss.
The upper back of the Scarlett features thin 4-way stretch, Nylon/Spandex panel. Fully seam sealed, zippered front pocket with interior electronics mesh sleeve, hamstring vents, thigh pockets, DWR coated 4-way stretch powder cuffs, internal Cordura scuff guards, and Cordura hem guards.
Strafe Scarlett bib specs:
Strafe Meadow Jacket
Strafe Meadow jacket is a lightweight hard-shell made with waterproof/breathable eVent membrane technology. We like lightweight shells here at WildSnow, they pack nicely and the high tech fabrics keep us dry inside and out. As with all lightweight materials, these are not as durable as heavy duty surfaces, but the weight savings and packability make it a worthwhile tradeoff for many ski tourers.
One feature we’d eliminate are the underarm vents. They are useful when you’re hiking in the warm and wet, but for our mild climate in Colorado, we find that the breathable fabric is sufficient for keeping us dry on the inside. Yeah yeah, we know some of you swear by pit zips. Debate in the comments, we’d love to hear your latest thoughts on the age old issue.
We like big inside pockets and often find that with women’s gear the pockets get downsized to the point of being useless. (Can you say “victim of fashion?”) The inside pocket of the Meadow is smaller than the roomy pocket of the Incubator. Our preference would be to have it at least as large.
Strafe Meadow jacket specs:
WildSnow Girl, Lisa Dawson, is the luckiest girl in the world. Also known as Mrs. WildSnow.com, she tests whatever gear she wants. She gives the WildSnow family of websites the feminine voice.