We’re heaping up the gear for this winter’s backcountry skiing adventures, so here is our weekly equipment review (back to our “10 Things” tomorrow). Big test these days is comparo of Delorme Topo USA and National Geo Topo!, but that one is taking a while, groan. In the meantime, some interesting clothing has been flying in from Outdoor Research. In particular, their Zealot shell jacket has us buzzing. Is this the solution to our nearly religious quest for the low mass shell appropriate for wear over a softshell parka? Perhaps it is — as this thing is so light that cutting the labels out actually makes a difference.
Our idea with jackets such as the Zealot is they’re something almost always stowed in our packs, and used on rare occasions when our soft shell jackets don’t cut it. To that end it’s got to be simple, super light, but still waterproof. Made with the Gore-Tex Paclite minimalist waterproof/breathable fabric, Zealot fits the bill at 7.7 ounces (220 gr). With fabric this thin it’s not going to function as body armor for tree skiing, but it’s still strong enough to be functional — any thinner would be problematic.
The hood works and even fits over a helmet (though it’s thin enough to wear under a helmet, and perhaps more comfortable that way). The only pocket is a small slash on the front, and that’s how it should be; who wants to haul the weight of fabric for pockets that might never get used? Only disappointment is our usual gripe about the hood not stowing in a way that functions as a collar, but with this shell’s Northwest heritage one must assume the hood is probably designed to be used. Come to think of it, if our use is for extreme conditions that principle probably applies to us as well.
In all, WildSnow.com thumbs up for the Zealot being a terrific emergency top-layer for your favorite soft shell jacket.
|Definition of light: Remove all the tags and feel a difference.|
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.