Skyward II is a practical technical shell for touring and non-touring days alike.
Someone at OR should be humming that classic song: “When I Paint My Masterpiece“.
Having been reading about Bob Dylan and The Band of late, I’ve had that tune running through my head (and thinking about visiting Rome). It popped up yet again when I sat down to review the OR Skyward II Jacket. An earworm? Perhaps. But those guys are so good.
Backstory: Last winter I indulged in a side project involving “cross over” ski clothing that could work well for days on ski lifts or on foot. Say, if you’re packing for the European dream trip, extending from Greece to Norway with unknown weather. (No, I’m not becoming a resort skier. Though I do indulge on occasion.)
Sure, you can use your feather-weight ski touring couture for resort skiing. But problems arise. In my case, I use lightweight touring gear that sacrifices durability, waterproofness, and technical features in favor of weight. Chair splinters, coat hooks and heavy rain can be hard on the meager things.
Enter the OR Skyward II jacket. It boasts 3-layer, waterproof breathable Ascent Shell fabric, with plenty of pockets and zippers. “Technical,” in a word. You’re not going to wear this for skimo racing. On the other hand, I think it’s the perfect crossover. Check it out.
All the zippers and mid-weight fabric do come at a mass penalty. My tester Skyward weighs 730 grams, while one of my favorite feather-shells comes in at 174.
It’s worth noting OR’s efforts to bring their sewing work to our shores. In April, they opened their second U.S. factory, in California. They’ll still be making things overseas as well (after all, a Korean company owns part of OR), but a few more jobs here don’t hurt. (More, I’m pretty sure they need facilities in the U.S. for making their military contract gear, which in turn helps keep OR afloat.) In my view the best thing about having more sewing machines chugging along in North America: OR’s designers can spend time prototyping instead of long-distance jet traveling. Skipping a few Korean or Mandarin language classes is probably a benefit as well. Perhaps the US based manufacturing will result in better gear along with less carbon spew? In all, good stuff happening at OR.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.