Salt Lake City, UT – It’s already November and ski resorts are opening across the Northern Hemisphere, which means that it’s time for First Tracks!! Online Media’s Annual Holiday Gear Gift Guide. Best of all, this year’s edition is our biggest ever!
Part I: Outerwear
We’ll admit it – we’re geeks at heart. Afer all, who else would have been involved running an Internet ski magazine way back in 1994? So when we got our hands on three of the most technologically tweaked-out pieces of ski outerwear from Rossignol we couldn’t wait to take them out into the snow to play.
Rossignol Chrono GTX jacket
Rossignol Hit Stretch jacket
Rossignol Harness pant
Sierra Designs Lava jacket
Marmot Zeus jacket
At first glance, Rossignol’s Chrono Meteo GTX jacket ($800) seems like any other high-end men’s ski jacket with a Gore-Tex membrane, a four-way stretch softshell outer treated with DWR, a detachable helmet-compatible hood and powder skirt, dual lateral pit zips and the usual assortment of pockets, inside and out, to carry just about anything, including designated spaces for a cell phone and an MP3 player. Upon closer inspection, however, one notices an odd clear bubble on the left sleeve.
That’s a home for Rossignol’s Pure Mountain Station, an oversized chronometer that includes altimeter, barometer and thermometer functions in addition to the usual bevy of alarm, stopwatch and timekeeping capabilities. No more undoing the gloves and rolling up your sleeves to check your altitude or the time, and when you get back to the office the Pure Mountain Station’s supplied desk stands gives you bragging rights for your weekend exploits. Be sure to read up on the Pure Mountain Station’s owner’s manual in advance, however, for operating the various functions wasn’t terribly intuitive to our testers.
Our sole female tester is perpetually cold even in August, so imagine her delight when Rossignol’s Hit Stretch jacket ($700) arrived with built-in electric heating from Novonic. Its slender stretch fit casts a flattering look, and its waterproof breathable membrane and dual lateral pit zips keep moisture on its proper side: out. It sports a removable helmet compatible hood and a fixed powder skirt, but where this jacket really stands apart is in its rechargeable battery-powered heating system, which delivers bursts of heat up to 100ºF in four zones in the chest and back.
Big mountain skiing often requires some light mountaineering to get into the hairiest spots. When you’re ready to rap into that hairball couloir, if you’re sporting the new Harness Pant from Rossignol ($295) you’ll already be wearing your climbing harness because it’s built right into the ski pants. The 3.3-oz. Cilao brand harness’ leg loops are integrated between the layers of the pant and are barely noticeable when the wearer’s not clipped in, but with minimal padding you won’t want to be hanging on a rope for very long. The belay loop rises above the pant’s waistband and a single gear loop is sewn onto the right hip. Thinsulate supplies the warmth, while an inseam vent on each leg lends breathability when hoofing it uphill. The garment’s outer is constructed of a soft four-way stretch twill for maximum mobility when skiing or climbing.
Our testers spent a lot of time last winter in the Lava Jacket from Sierra Designs ($199.95), a Drizone 2L (10,000 mm waterproofness, 10,000 g/m²/24 hrs breathability) outer layer insulated with 133g PrimaLoft Eco for warmth and dryness even on the nastiest weather days. The outer shell is constructed of mini ripstop nylon for a relatively soft feel, and YKK Aquaguard zippers keep both you and your goodies dry in wet conditions, as do the fully-taped PVC-free seams. When things get toasty, large double-slider pit zips provide ample ventilation. A fully helmet-capable fixed hood is also insulated with PrimaLoft, and includes a three-way adjustment system for a perfect fit. Stowage is provided by two slash pockets, an interior mesh bottle pocket and an interior mesh chest pocket for electronic devices that notably lacks a headphone port. One thing that drove our testers absolutely batty when wearing this jacket was the inability of the custom molded plastic wrist closures to remain affixed to their Velcro counterparts, but we’re told that this has been corrected in the production model.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a puffy down jacket. It’s like cuddling up inside a toasty high-performance sleeping bag. And at a U.S. MSRP of $150, the Marmot Zeus is an incredible value for an 800-fill goose down jacket. The lightweight Bantam ripstop outer is treated with DWR to repel moisture, the bane of any down garment, and yields an incredibly soft hand. In combination with the micro poplin lining, also treated with DWR, the Zeus tips the scales at a remarkably lightweight 402g (14 oz.). It makes the ideal mid-layer on a frigid day, or outer layer for après-ski or running errands around town. Perhaps best of all, thanks to the high compressibility of 800-fill down the entire jacket stuffs into its own slash pocket to easily store inside a backpack or suitcase, or form a terrific camp pillow (product documentation isn’t clear on this feature – use the left slash pocket with the double pull on the zipper). A drawcord hem keeps the warmth in, and two unsecured interior pockets form the reverse of the two outside slash pockets. The Zeus comes in six colors to complement any ensemble, and for the ladies Marmot makes the Venus jacket, identical to the Zeus except for a more feminine chevron stitch pattern and a different color selection. We couldn’t find anything about the Zeus that we didn’t like.
Core Concepts Approach Alpine pant
Core Concepts Carve Full Zip
Ever since reviewing the Cowboy Pow mid-layer from Core Concepts last year we’ve been impressed by the quality and creativity exhibited by this Boise start-up’s apparel line. We’re no less impressed by this year’s products from Core Concepts that we tested, but we have to admit that we were more than a bit skeptical when company founder Noah Bryan presented his App