2022 Powder Buyer’s Guide pt 3
TESTED HEAD TO HEAD
We never went ski touring without a puffy for packable warmth and a shell for weather protection. Most of the time we wear both and only on the way down. A few brands made the same realization and are releasing jackets that combine insulation and weather protection in one lightweight build, perfect for ski-touring missions.
Helly Hansen LifaLoft Air Insulator Jacket
It doesn’t feel like much, but packs a whole lot of protection. The Insulator Jacket is essentially a wind shell with a layer of LifaLoft Air, a new lightweight insulation that looks like a perforated sheet of fleece. The structure creates lots of dead air, the essence of any good insulation, and pulls moisture away from the skin to disperse, keeping us feeling warm, too. More protective than the Rab, but not quite as warm, it’s a good choice for the weight conscious. 410 grams. $350; hellyhansen.com
Choose it: For fast-moving touring sessions.
Rab Xenair Alpine Jacket
The most comfortable but the least protective of the three jackets, the Xenair is all about breathability. The PrimaLoft Gold Active synthetic insulation allows sweat vapour to move through the jacket, and the Pertex Quantum Air outer material is also super breathable. The latter still does a good job of deflecting dry snowflakes and shielding the wind. It feels cozy with a generous hood, Goldilocks cut for layering and two hand pockets (one doubles as a stuff sack). 449 grams. $325; rab.equipment
Choose it: If you rarely encounter wet snow and sometimes want to wear a puffy in the skin track.
Patagonia Micro Puff Storm
The warmest and most waterproof of the trio, the Micro Puff Storm uses Patagonia’s proprietary and ultralight waterproof H2NO waterproof-breathable membrane on the outside and its down-mimicking PlumaFill inside. Originally designed as a climbing belay jacket, its features are just as useful on skis: generous hood, mini-snow skirt, two big hand pockets and two huge interior mesh pockets, ideal for gloves or skins. The only thing we don’t love is the boxy cut, but it does layer over anything. 615 grams. $625; patagonia.com
Choose it: For coastal and cold zones.
A flattering cut, bomber weatherproofing, easy-cracking pit-zips, roomy enough for layering, burly enough for the howling chairlift ride, but not too heavy for schlepping, the Marmot JM Pro Jacket and matching pants are exactly what our female testers look for in a shell for skiing hard. Jacket: $550, pant: $430; marmot.com
EASIER COMPRESSION SOCK
Compression socks help keep blood flowing and muscles fresh, but all that tension makes them a wrestle to put on. Whistler-based Dissent Labs felt our pain and developed the IQ Fit Hybrid. It’s easier to get on than most compression socks, but still supportive and thin fitting. $45; dissentlabs.combackcountry, buyers guide, Dissent, Helly Hansen Odin Mountain, Marmot, Patagonia, powder, RAB