I handed Jason an Outdoor Research Valhalla Hoody loaner jacket yesterday morning. “Here, test this. Your ramshackle thrift shop jacket probably won’t keep you dry.” We did a couple laps, it was good, and Jason stayed dry. Despite our WildSnow pit zip taboo, he said he loved the huge ones on the Valhalla. They go from bottom hem to nearly your elbow. I guess if you’re going to have pit zips, might as well have ones that do something more than stimulate your imagination.
Valhalla is made with Gore Windstopper X-Fast, in our view plenty waterproof for mid-continental ski touring. In lengthy wet snow or rain you’d probably want something a bit more on the sealed side of things, but X-Fast breaths like crazy, has that soft shell hand, and kept Jason totally dry during about 5 hours of heavy work (including shoveling out the WildSnow Field HQ water tank shed.)
We like the Valhalla collar, works well as a stand-alone or with the hood. The cut is roomy. Hood is nominal and not removable, made to fit either under helmet or not be used with helmet. Chest pockets are located the way we like (Napoleon style) but are somewhat small. Another pair of side pockets are located lower on right and left. These may be located high enough to use while your backpack waist belt is buckled, and they provide venting.
Interior pod-pocket is of course included, with clear plastic window.
This is not your “minimalist” shell (large weighs 21 ounces), but more of the type of jacket you’d wear most of the time instead of stowing in your pack (which is practical due to the huge side/pit zips and vent pockets). Super versatile.
Fall of 2013 you’ll be able to shop for Valhalla Hoody jacket by 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.