I don’t always get excited about clothes. There is so much of it out there; sometimes it all blends into one big blur. Additionally, we spend most of our time at Outdoor Retailer investigating technical hardgoods and often skip conversations about garb that nearly every company offers. But, this year we got psyched about a few new pieces we saw. What I am saying is: you want these in your closet.
Maybe one of the most impressive outerwear innovations is the development of stretchy, waterproof fabrics. The few shells we checked out had varying degrees of stretchiness and the material allowed for trimmer fitting pieces, which seems to be the trend, especially for ski touring and mountaineering.
Outdoor Research is using GORE-TEX® Fabric with Stretch Technology in their new Hemisphere collection of technical hard shells. This fabric has been added in high-movement zones of the jacket, such as under arms, back panels, hoods and wrist cuffs. This addition makes a noticeable difference when you put the jacket on and dance around in it. Dancing may be the closest simulation of backcountry skiing while at the trade show (one of WildSnow’s gear-testing secrets). We are excited to give this piece a try in those wet PNW conditions.
The trimmer fit of the Hemisphere jacket is ample enough to accommodate insulation layers worn beneath. Outdoor Research claims a closer fit improves the breathability of the fabric. Men’s and women’s fits. MSRP: jacket: $599, bib: $599.
Patagonia is introducing a new base layer technology called Capilene Air. It is a soft blend of 49% recycled polyester and 51% merino wool, developed for temperature regulation and moisture management in all kinds of conditions. Maybe the neatest fact is the piece is knit into a seamless 3D structure: minimal material waste. The pattern of the knit differs between men’s and women’s models, providing men with more breathability and women with a bit more warmth.
Another notable mention: Patagonia Powslayer jacket shell is now made with 100% recycled material.
Increasingly we see companies — Patagonia and others — developing environmentally responsible processes and materials. We applaud their efforts to reduce waste and be mindful of how their businesses affect the planet. High five!
Every mountaineer should have one giant puffy in their stash. Mammut’s Meron IN hooded men’s jacket fits the bill. You’ll be toasty surrounded by 900 cuin fill power of European goose down. Outer material is a lightweight, water-repellent ripstop which means you’ll have to be careful slaying pow in tight trees but it also gives this jacket an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio: it packs down small enough to stow in the side pocket. Other features: helmet compatible adjustable hood, 2 backpack and climbing harness compatible zipper pockets, internal zipper pocket, and hem drawstring.
We like pockets on our pack belts and Mammut takes it to the extreme with the Spindrift 14 backpack. Huge pockets on the hip belt give you quick access to gear. The right hip pocket is even large enough to stash skins. The left pocket is slightly smaller but still roomy enough for hat, gloves and Snickers. And now you barely need to stop when icy winds hit. Just whip the integrated wind shield jacket out of the left pocket, pop it over your head, and you’re ready to charge on.
Spindrift 14 features:
The Spindrift 26 (26 liters) has a similar large hip belt pocket but does not have the integrated wind shield jacket.
Black Crows never fail to surprise us! Growing more and more in their reputation for making excellent skis, the Chamonix-based company is expanding their line of high performance clothing. The Ventus collection, designed specifically for ski touring, aligns well with the style of their skis — slick looking on the outside with the best colors ever.
Ventus GORE-TEX® shell and pant are available in two versions: the burlier Ventus 3L; and the more minimalist Ventus 3L Light. Nice touches we love: big pockets on both pants and jackets, 3 zipper pulls for pit/leg vents and giant skin pockets on the inside of the jacket. Oh and don’t forget the funny sayings, similar to those on the skis, that will leave you with a giggle.
If I were to ask for one thing: please make women’s bibs!
It’s easy to find something nice at Mountain Equipment. One mid-layer piece we checked out is the women’s Transition jacket. The outer fabric is stretch nylon with breathable POLARLOFT® for insulation. Slim fit, comfy hood, 2 zipped hand warmer pockets, elastic bound cuffs and hem drawcords — this number packs into a hand pocket with twin karabiner carry loops. (Yes, “k” for karabiner, this is a British company after all.)
A mandatory stop at every OR show is Duckworth, a Montana wool company we applaud for their efforts in resurrecting the lost art and craft of American wool. They carefully manage the genetics of their herd and are cultivating a network of wool suppliers by selling quality breeders to neighboring ranches. Open range sheep graze at 9,500+ feet in the Rocky Mountains. Freezing cold winters and hot dry summers shape a soft, durable fiber with superior loft and breathability. Indeed, their goods feel exceptionally soft and pieces we own still look and feel new after years of wear. 100% made in USA — the wool travels to the Carolinas for spinning, knitting and sewing.
Too, we like Duckworth because some of their cowboys are also ski mountaineers. Every March they spend a couple days sheering, and then celebrate with a backcountry tour or two. Joining them for a full trip report is on the WildSnow bucket list.
That’s a wrap! Stay cozy and pray for snow!
WildSnow Girl, Julia Dubinina, is a weekend warrior chasing snow in winter and sun in summer. A lover of long tours and steep skin tracks, she explores the Pacific Northwest and beyond. When she is not out adventuring, she is working away at her corporate desk job for a software company to make her next adventure happen.