Pros: ventilation, storage, indestructable
Cons: a little heavy
If you understand the phrases: commit to the mountain and attack the fall line--If you train for months to prepare yourself to tear up the mountain--- If you don't feel good about a day of skiing unless your whole body feels like you challenged it --- If you actually like deep powder and/or huge bumps-- then brother, you are going to LOVE this jacket. It is as if it were designed by a 160 day a year ski veteran who addressed every important detail.
It is not, however, for wearing around town. It is not for people who head for the lodge when their heart rate gets over 110 bpm. If you want an all purpose jacket to wear in the park, around town and on the few days you ski, then you are probably not going to grok this particular coat.
If you that love the feeling of having your heart rate up around 160, whose thighs burn and who see skiing as an athletic (and not simply a social or scenic) sport, you will be well accustomed to the challenge of keeping a comfortable body temperature. This jacket is designed to do just that - and bed better than any other shell out there. Sure, there are a lot of good shells that are waterproof, layerable, durable, etc. But none have this kind of 5 zipper venting.
Most impressively, it has pit zips that are positioned more on the front of the jacket than under the arms. Under-arm pit zips tend not to work well because your arms are most often at your sides, thus blocking the opennings. I never understood why every jacket maker out there fails to understand this. The pit zips on the Apogee however are located frontword so that air can get in no matter where your arms are. Additionally there are two vent zips on the back of the jacket and the three zipper front allows for all kinds of venting options. You will not get too hot in this jacket...a real boon for us bump skiers who have battle sweat pouring into our goggles or opt for a too light shell wherein we freeze on the lift. You can go from toasty warm to cool in seconds with this shell.
The zippers all are rock solid with internal flaps. So in case you happen to be in very cold conditions or stuck on a windy lift, you will not be cold. additionally, the sizing and cut allow for any combination of baselayers and fleeces that you could want. So fo those of you that want a weatherproof, ultra warm jacket, this is also perfect for you. The high collar is perfect for the lift. Scrunch you neck down into it and you have this cozy little room to keep your face in without pulling up a gaiter of face mask. I can't tell you how comfy this collar is on a cold day.
For me that covers the imprtant things. Now to the added bonuses:
There are a ton of awesome pockets. My favorites are the easily accessible center front pockets (two of them). So easy to get to. A close second is the huge, lined interior goggle pocket. Then there are five other pockets--four outside and one inside that make my waist pack unnecessary. If I need to shed a base layer or carry extra lenses and snacks, I have plenty of room.
Also, the hood tucks away but when out, fits over my helmet perfectly without impairing my periferal vision. For skiing in the rain, this is a godsend. So few jackets get this right.
The Coolness factor:
Wearing this jacket makes you feel and look like an action hero. It is made of such rugged material (with kevlar shoulders to protect from edge cuts while carrying your sharply tuned skis) that you feel indestructable. The styling is, well, you can see the picture. It is actually cooler in person. I wasn't too sure about the euro-looking belt. But is is actually great and it you don't like it, it is removeable.
So it costs $400 bucks. Who cares? this is not so much a jacket as a piece of technical gear.Plus it keeps out the duffers; only serious skiers will be wearing this jacket, and not many of them at that. The novice will not really appreciate this equipment. But for those of you with decades of experience or who ski like you are training for competition, you will love, love, love this coat and quickly forget the price. I only wish someone had smacked some sense in me back when I was skiing the back bowls in Vail. But now that I dwell in the icy, windy, rainy northeast, I would not wear any other jacket if I were paid to do so.