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Newbie needs advice on ski jacket

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

Newbie here and hoping to get some advice. I am shopping for ski wear and based on my research, I think I will be going with the 3 layer system. I've already gathered a Icebreaker light base layer, an Atom LT jacket as mid layer, and now I need an outer jacket to go with these. Budget is an issue so I can only consider things that are on sale. I will be skiing the NE where it can be wet, so I am pretty much settled on a hard shell jacket, if possible. Things that I am considering (due to a local sale) includes a past year model Arcteryx Alpha SL jacket, a Northface Triclimate or a Burton Hackett, with my preference leaning towards the Arc Alpha.

 

Can someone chime in as to the suitability of the Alpha SL as a hard shell jacket, and to go along what I already have. Everything looks so thin and I am a little concerned about getting cold, especially when I am taking lessons. Also, can someone also comment if, amongst the 3 selections above, which one should I go for if it is not the Alpha.

 

If something else comes to mind, please go ahead and suggest. I am, however, trying to stay below $200. I am not it's not a whole lot of budget, but that's what I have to work with at this time.

 

Thanks a lot.

post #2 of 30

I know nothing about the different brands.  I have  a TNF shell that cost about 300.  It is very thin which is fine because the shell's job is to keep the wind and the wet out, not to insulate.  I wear various layers of fleece underneath depending on how cold it is.  I would look for something with decent vents too.

post #3 of 30

Search on jackets.  there are several threads on here for tips.

 

Assuming that you've narrowed down to have the required features of waterproof breathable (which every mid-high end jacket will have) and the right number of pockets and any other doodads.

 

The most important factor is that the jacket that fits your body and is comfortable.  The cut that fits you is the one to get.  

 

If you are ordering online, be sure there are easy returns so you can try them all out out.

post #4 of 30
ArcTeryx period
post #5 of 30

I have a Northface Triclimate.  Great jacket so far.  It has an inner jacket and outer shell (you can remove the inner and just use the shell or the inner on their own) which is good enough for any days above 30.  Under 30 I throw on a fleece as well and stay plenty warm. 

post #6 of 30

Arc'teryx is great - but I would not say "Arc'teryx period."

 

I'd take Westcomb over Arc'teryx because they still make everything in Canada (AFAIK).

 

I'd take Norrona over Arc'teryx for a sleeker cut and because you won't see every other skier and his uncle wearing Norrona the way you do Arc'teryx. 

 

Patagonia offers a lifetime warranty and makes some beautiful shells.

 

Seriously check out the Stoic brand, which is Backcountry.com's house brand offers VERY good value for money.

 

Also backcountry.com offers 100% guaranteed returns for life for any reason on any product they sell of any brand.

 

I've tested it with a three year old jacket whose seam seals fell apart - and returning it and getting all my money back was a 30 second affair on backcountry's slick website and then I just dropped it in the mail.

 

As for retailers I would advise you go through REI or backcountry.com because of their best-in-trade return policies. If your gear fails or you don't like it for whatever reason at any point in the future you can return it no questions asked.

 

Two very popular brands among the TGR set are Trew gear and Flylow.

 

If you know what you're looking for you can also find hella good values on Backcountry's discount site - www.steepandcheap.com - which also offers unconditional returns. But you must be patient - best strategy is to install their iphone or android app with notifications of each new deal.

 

I got a $350 Solstice 20K/20K 3L shell for $82 on steepandcheap when Solstice went out of business. When the seams failed I returned it for a full refund.

post #7 of 30
Of the three you listed I only have experience with TNF. Had the jacket for about 12 years and it just got out of style, sold on eBay for $75. Not sure if the quality is still the same as back then, but if so, they would be first choice, then arcterx...then maybe burton if it looked right.
post #8 of 30

AFAIK the Alpha SL does NOT have a powder skirt. This may not be an issue for you but a powder skirt can do more than just keep powder out during a fall in deep snow - it can enhance insulation by sealing off air flow out of your shell. My shell does not have a powder skirt and I sorely wish it did.

post #9 of 30

Kevin - that's amazing - getting $75 for a 12 year old shell.

 

As far as North Face quality it's my understanding that they severely diluted their brand by going down market. I believe they still make a line of top-level gear but since they make so much mediocre crud now (or license their name on it) I stay away from them because it's a hassle to figure out what is quality and what is not.

 

But I must say I liked their "Haines Tuxedo" Goretex Pro Shell one-piece-that-looks-like-a-two-piece-ensemble. Spendy at $1,000 but if I could find one cheap enough I'd still like to pick it up.

post #10 of 30

+1 for getting the jacket that fits.  I tried on at least 5 different brands in my search and only the northface fit just right.  I was large in some brands and extra large in others.

post #11 of 30

Don't even consider mail order.  I lost weight and was jacket shopping.  They all fit different.  Size means nothing.  I ended up with a small, which is crazy at 173 lbs. but it fits. 

Personally, i don't like a jacket that has a built in liner, too bulky.  I would rather have the liner layer as fleece fitting tight to my body, as opposed to a jacket which needs a looser fit to ride over the body as you move.  I ended up with a perfect fit, just what I wanted for $150. 

Don't get something that is too light though.  I wear a poly type undershirt, then the helly hanson underjacket i got at a body armour store, then jacket.  that kept me warm a few days ago at 15F. 

i would never wear north face anything, it's like a MacDonalds hamburger!   16 billion sold.  (add spyder to that)

also, i like a hood for storm days. i prefer one that i can zip off for regular use, but seems like everything had built in hood, and that's what i ended up with, but not my preference. 

the other issue is snowboarding  vs ski jackets.  i ended up with a jacket apparently made for boarders, but it didn't look too snowboardish, and everything else was right, so i happily settled on it. if you are a skier, i wouldn't get something that definitely looks too much snowboarder style.

post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody for your input. Highly appreciated. Of those who has experience with Arcteryx, can you advise if the Alpha SL is an adequate shell jacket for skiing?
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sg07 View Post

Thanks everybody for your input. Highly appreciated. Of those who has experience with Arcteryx, can you advise if the Alpha SL is an adequate shell jacket for skiing?

 

Please note, I have not used that jacket, but that's positioned as a rain jacket.  

 

I wouldn't be cautious to pick that one, for the sake of if you happen to fall or run into a tree, it may not be as sturdy as a jacket positioned as a snow-sports jacket, and will stand up to the possible wear and tear.

post #14 of 30

Arcteryx is a great jacket, just not very cost friendly.

 

I have a 3 layer yellow TNF as my primary jacket, a single layer Cloudvail as my second choice, a Marker that is insulated for the colder day's and still bring out my 1997 yellow 3 layer TNF for the real cold day's. I have a few 200weight fleeces that I wear under the the shells.

 

I bought all my base and second layer from Serria Trading Post, they have thier own brand of wicking base layers that are a great value. Campmor is another great place to buy from.

 

You can find nice shells at TJ Maxx,& Marshells if you get there at the right time. I have a black TNF shell I found there back in 05 that is still amazingly water proof. I was working as a course worker for the Mt Washington Hill climb last year, While standing out there in the pouring rain that shell kept me dry as a bone. I wear this black shell as my everyday jacket during the winter with a Marrmont fleece under it.

 

I also have a old Spyder that I now wear when using the snowblower along with my first pair of TNF pants from about 1993.

 

Oh I also still wear the same pair of Campmor 200 weight fleece pants (bought 1993) under my new light gray TNF pants when skiing. I paid $19.00 for those fleece pants.I do have a few other lighter fleece pants for warmer days.

 

I currently have 7 pair of ski pants, 5 TNF, 1 Dascent, 1 Marker to match the Marker jacket, But I think I don't fit in those anymore...;(

 

Any name brand is going to be great as a outer shell. It's important to spend the money there. The base layers and mid layers (zip T-necks) you can get for around $14.00-20.00 from Campmor or STP.

post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sg07 View Post

Thanks everybody for your input. Highly appreciated. Of those who has experience with Arcteryx, can you advise if the Alpha SL is an adequate shell jacket for skiing?

 

I've got most of the Arcteryx line in my closet (sometimes two if I like the colors enough, like the Beta AR in red and blaze). My least favorite is the Alpha SL, very thin with not much in features. I leave it in the trunk of my car for rain showers. Will it work as a top layer -sure, but I think there's better choices mentioned already.

 

This week in Whistler I alternated between the Blaze Alpha AR and a Mountain Hardwear Kepler jacket. The big shortcoming of the Mountain Hardwear was that it hardly covered my helmet. The Dry Q material I prefer to the Gore-Tex in the Arc -I could feel being damp in the Arc, but not in the MH. So for me, for PNW, the Kepler's going to stay home, for least coast, where it's cold but not as much precipitation, it would be OK.

 

You say that you have an Atom as a mid layer, then essentially you're looking for wind-waterproof top layer. Lots of good choices already mentioned. Who knows, maybe I'll sell my green Beta AR - better then sitting in the trunk.

 

Oh, and forget about a powder skirt - unnecessary.


Edited by snofun3 - 1/10/13 at 12:26pm
post #16 of 30

Well, a powder skirt is not necessary if you never ski in deep, deep snow and you never ever fall and never ever get that bit of snow wedged in just around your midsection which quickly melts due to your body heat and won't kill you or ruin your day even, but feels yucky and wet right there around your backside or belly.

 

Of course wearing bibs will go a long way toward helping as well.

 

Here in Mammoth also we've got crazy wind all the time, and anything you can do to seal out the wind from sucking body heat on the chairlift - like a powder skirt - is a big help.

post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post

Don't even consider mail order.

 

I don't entirely agree. You'll have a much wider selection to choose from via mail order. Local shops can only stock a small range of outerwear. Order what you want in multiple sizes and return the others. The world has evolved - returning things via mailorder is dirt simple and easy.


Edited by calisnow - 1/10/13 at 2:50pm
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 
[quote name="snofun3" url="/t/116855/newbie-needs-advice-on-ski-jacket#post_1530574"
You say that you have an Atom as a mid layer, then essentially you're looking for wind-waterproof top layer. Lots of good choices already mentioned. Who knows, maybe I'll sell my green Beta AR - better then sitting in the trunk.
[/quote]

Just curious, if the sole purpose of the shell is keep water and wind out, why would the Alpha SL not work as well as others? I thought the Alpha does really well in this area. Which other Arc shell that are on the lower price range would you recommend?

Because I am a newbie, I am still getting used to the picture of me on the ski hill having the outermost layer as a paper thin shell, rather than a bulky insulated jacket. Can someone assure me that with a 200 merino base layer, an Atom LT and a hard shell, but that's it, will really get the job done of keeping my alive for a typical day at the NE? Should I add a fleece to this setup?
post #19 of 30

Hi! I used basically that same setup for the past week in Colorado. (Patagonia Capilene 3 baselayer, Arcteryx Atom LT as mid layer and an Arcteryx Venta MX as outer layer). I got a tad cold on the lifts with temps in the 0-10F but while skiing t was fine, above that it was great and when it got over 30F I needed to open the pit zips. 

 

You can use one of the MANY great shells available. I would however pick something with good durability so it can take some abuse from just day in day out skiing (falls, occasional contact with trees and ski edges)

post #20 of 30
If your on a budget, look at the Northface Varius Guide jacket. Removable hood, pit zips, snow skirt, zip in compatable, etc. I've used mine under snow guns and in the rain, and it's bone dry, and it's holding up well also.

You can usually find one on sale for under $200.
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sg07 View Post

[quote name="snofun3" url="/t/116855/newbie-needs-advice-on-ski-jacket#post_1530574"
You say that you have an Atom as a mid layer, then essentially you're looking for wind-waterproof top layer. Lots of good choices already mentioned. Who knows, maybe I'll sell my green Beta AR - better then sitting in the trunk.
[/quote]

Just curious, if the sole purpose of the shell is keep water and wind out, why would the Alpha SL not work as well as others? I thought the Alpha does really well in this area. Which other Arc shell that are on the lower price range would you recommend?

Because I am a newbie, I am still getting used to the picture of me on the ski hill having the outermost layer as a paper thin shell, rather than a bulky insulated jacket. Can someone assure me that with a 200 merino base layer, an Atom LT and a hard shell, but that's it, will really get the job done of keeping my alive for a typical day at the NE? Should I add a fleece to this setup?


You're way overthinking this.  No one can assure you of anything.  You can assure yourself by focusing on the underlying idea instead of specific brands and models.  The layer concept is easy:  Outer layer is an uninsulated, waterproof shell aka hardshell (goretex or equivalent).  Middle layer is fleece or an insulating jacket over fleece if it's very cold.  Base layer is something thin that wicks moisture.  too hot?  Remove a layer.  Too cold?  Add another layer.  Nobody doing mountaineering, backcountry etc uses the insulated ski jackets seen in resorts.  Google "winter dressing in  layers" or something like that.  Exactly how much you wear depends on conditions.  You'll quickly discover what works for you.  Once you do you'll never go back.

post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by kletter1mann View Post


You're way overthinking this.  No one can assure you of anything.  You can assure yourself by focusing on the underlying idea instead of specific brands and models.  The layer concept is easy:  Outer layer is an uninsulated, waterproof shell aka hardshell (goretex or equivalent).  Middle layer is fleece or an insulating jacket over fleece if it's very cold.  Base layer is something thin that wicks moisture.  too hot?  Remove a layer.  Too cold?  Add another layer.  Nobody doing mountaineering, backcountry etc uses the insulated ski jackets seen in resorts.  Google "winter dressing in  layers" or something like that.  Exactly how much you wear depends on conditions.  You'll quickly discover what works for you.  Once you do you'll never go back.

 

^^^^^^ This is correct. The OP seems to be hooked on the Alpha SL, and, owning one, I'm not a real fan. Too flimsy. Alpha AR, yes, I have 2 of them - much more substantial, with more features.

 

Instead of Alpha SL, I'd buy something else from another manufacturer that has better value lines.

post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sg07 View Post

[quote name="snofun3" url="/t/116855/newbie-needs-advice-on-ski-jacket#post_1530574"
You say that you have an Atom as a mid layer, then essentially you're looking for wind-waterproof top layer. Lots of good choices already mentioned. Who knows, maybe I'll sell my green Beta AR - better then sitting in the trunk.
[/quote]

Just curious, if the sole purpose of the shell is keep water and wind out, why would the Alpha SL not work as well as others? I thought the Alpha does really well in this area. Which other Arc shell that are on the lower price range would you recommend?

Because I am a newbie, I am still getting used to the picture of me on the ski hill having the outermost layer as a paper thin shell, rather than a bulky insulated jacket. Can someone assure me that with a 200 merino base layer, an Atom LT and a hard shell, but that's it, will really get the job done of keeping my alive for a typical day at the NE? Should I add a fleece to this setup?

 

The problem with the SL is it is not intended for skiing, and is not as durable fabric as the others. Snagging on trees, wear from backpack straps (if you use one) etc. are going to cause problems with it sooner than more durable jackets. The only reason you'd take a superlight shell is to save space/weight in a pack.

post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sg07 View Post

Thanks everybody for your input. Highly appreciated. Of those who has experience with Arcteryx, can you advise if the Alpha SL is an adequate shell jacket for skiing?

 

Where do you live? If I missed it in the posts above I'm sorry.

 

Anyway, I have an Arcteryx, and that thing is bullet proof, that being said it is a very high end jacket and the 400$+ price tag reflected that. The high end Arcteryx are made in Canada the lower end, I don't know. Anyway, there isn't one jacket that does it all if you ski a lot. I have 4 jackets in rotation, 2 shells, (Cloudveil, Arcteryx)1 softshell,(Patagonia) 1 windshirt (Arcteryx) for spring skiing. 

 

I don't buy brands so much as what fits well and works for me. 

post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post

 

^^^^^^ This is correct. The OP seems to be hooked on the Alpha SL, and, owning one, I'm not a real fan. Too flimsy. Alpha AR, yes, I have 2 of them - much more substantial, with more features.

 

Instead of Alpha SL, I'd buy something else from another manufacturer that has better value lines.

^^^^^^  Also correct.  The OP should look at the weight of the SL and ask himself why Arcteryx doesn't recommend the SL for skiing.  Sounds like he's determined to sport the dead bird logo but doesn't want to spend the $$ for the model appropriate to the activity.  He'll learn this after a long, sliding fall over something rough and the money he thought he saved was wasted on a cheaper jacket that was turned into tatters. 

 

But this is Epic Ski - where preexisting biases are confirmed and actual experience is ignored.  irony.gif

post #26 of 30

1. That TNF jacket is a tri-jacket.  You don't need a tri-jacket because you already have a mid layer in the Atom LT.  Plus, the Triclimate is on the bulky and heavy side, so PASS on it.  Don't even consider it further.

 

2. That Burton jacket is a snowboard jacket, despite what any fashionista might tell you.  It's baggy and not designed for tighter body movements of skiing (compared to boarding).  Plus, those types of Burton jackets are functionally crap.  They recycle the same pattern/features each year, put it on a new fabric, and call it the "new" model jacket.  Then they tweak with with 2 minor pocket adjustments and call it "another new model".  Garbage.  Nobody in the know wears a jacket like that for skiing, if they have a choice.  And you do.  So get Burton out of your head completely.  Don't even consider it further. 

 

3. The Arcteryx Alpha SL is WAAAAAAAAY too thin for skiing.  You'll trash it with one rogue branch or brushing up against your bindings.  And your money then just went down the drain.  Arc makes some amazing stuff (though Gore-Tex isn't the tops on my breathable hit list) but the Alpha is not what you need.  They have plenty of other models that work better for skiing, so pick one. If you like the look then pick another one like it, but suited for skiing.  The Alpha SL is not the one you need, trust us who own Arcteryx stuff.  THE TRICK, HOWEVER, is that the other models fit differently.  You need to figure out which will fit you best.  It's about the FIT, not the looks.  I suggest taking a very good look at the Arcteryx Sidewinder, Sabre, or Rush.  They each fit a bit differently, so get the one that suits your body type.  Sidewinder is more baggy overall, Sabre is tighter in the shoulders and more baggy at the bottom, Rush is more roomy in the shoulders and trim through the torso.  Pick one, buy it, don't look back, and enjoy a top notch jacket for years to come.

 

And on a side note, yes, Arcteryx does contract to China for manufacturing.  And yes, Westcomb does still manufacture in Canada. And yes, Westcomb makes some amazing jackets with eVent (which is more breathable than Gore-Tex).  The problem is the FIT.  It's all about the fit.  Westcomb jackets fit more boxy and short than Arcteryx.  Arcteryx are generally more trim.  So if Westcomb fits you well, go for it!!  If not, then pick something else.  I had to sell my Westcomb after I lost 30 lbs.  It fit when I was more doughy, but afterwards it was brutal and didn't fit for the new slimmer me.

 

Bottom line: get a shell that FITS you well for YOUR body type.  There are many excellent jackets out there, but likely only a few that will fit you really well.  Some manufacturers are known for different types of fits, so find the one that works for you and pull the trigger.

post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnerbob View Post

 

 

2. That Burton jacket is a snowboard jacket, despite what any fashionista might tell you.  It's baggy and not designed for tighter body movements of skiing (compared to boarding).  Plus, those types of Burton jackets are functionally crap.  They recycle the same pattern/features each year, put it on a new fabric, and call it the "new" model jacket.  Then they tweak with with 2 minor pocket adjustments and call it "another new model".  Garbage.  Nobody in the know wears a jacket like that for skiing, if they have a choice.  And you do.  So get Burton out of your head completely.  Don't even consider it further. 

 

 

 

Umm, Burton makes some legit 3L Gore Pro shells and has done so for many years. Of course they also make generic crappy 10k insulated jackets, but the AK line is legit and has a moderate cut if you size appropriately. Also not sure what "tighter body movements" of skiing are? Unless you are mountaineering, having a looser fit does not impede performance or cause any safety issues.

post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gramboh View Post

 

Umm, Burton makes some legit 3L Gore Pro shells and has done so for many years. Of course they also make generic crappy 10k insulated jackets, but the AK line is legit and has a moderate cut if you size appropriately. Also not sure what "tighter body movements" of skiing are? Unless you are mountaineering, having a looser fit does not impede performance or cause any safety issues.


+1 The idea of skiing and snowboarding specific jackets being all that different died around the same time as the snowboard leash. I had two AK jackets in the past and they offered excellent wind/moisture protection and weren't particularly large or baggy. Also not sure what "tighter body movements" really means in the real world.

post #29 of 30

If you ski East, I assume you live East. Check out EMS, I have one of their branded shells and its awesome. Its about 3 years old and still looks new. Its so waterproof that I use it as a summer rain coat. Has plenty of pockets outside, dedicated insides for your phone and glasses with clips for headphone wire, leash with included microfiber goggle/sunglasses wipe, pit vents, snow skirt, etc. Its comfortable with just a sweatshirt for 20*F. Throw your base jacket on under it and youre talking sub-zero and then some. I dont think I spent more than $150 for it and its good for at least another two years.

post #30 of 30

Like the other posters, I wouldn't advise skiing in the Arc Alpha SL.  I have one I use as a general rainshell, but it's too thin and doesn't have enough pockets for skiing.  I'd be very afraid it would rip easily.

 

Another brand to consider is Stoic.  I've owned their Bombshell jacket and it was very well made and fit great.  I'd say they fit normal to thinner body types best, and are very similar in fit to Arc.

 

Backcountry.com is the exclusive retailer for Stoic.  You can also find reasonably priced used Stoic gear on Geartrade.com.  Geartrade is where Backcountry sells their returned gear.

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