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Jacket Recommendations? (<$150)

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

Hello, all!

 

Just (very) recently got into skiing, and I can already see this is a hobby I would like to pursue for some time to come.

 

Currently, I've only got a heavy, insulated, non-breathable coat, and am looking to get a soft shell jacket of some kind.

 

I can't see myself spending multi-hundreds on a jacket, and at this point am looking in the <$150 range (obviously lower is better... <$100 would be awesome, but I don't see many recommendations in that range).

 

I'm looking for something with good waterproofing, as I'm expecting many falls to come since I'm a beginner, as well as of course good breathability.

 

I was reading OutdoorGearLab, and their "Best Buy" award went to the North Face Vortex Triclimate. What is the general consensus on this jacket? It's currently on sale on Steep and Cheap for $150, which is why I am coming here for advice (a time constraint).

 

Also, an additional question: What are your experiences (or experiences of others around the interwebs) with Steep and Cheap? Do manufacturers typically honor warranties for items purchased through them? I've read of some manufacturers claiming they don't offer warranties for items purchased via "unauthorized" resellers, so am unsure about Steep and Cheap in this regard.

 

TL;DR: 1. Any recommendations for good soft-shell jackets for a beginner skiier (expecting lots of falls, so moderate to heavy waterproofing with good breathability is what I'm looking for) in the <$150 range, 2. Any thoughts on the North Face Vortex Triclimate, and 3. Is Steep and Cheap considered an authorized reseller by manufacturers in the sense that they honor warranties on products sold via that website?

 

Thanks!

ElectroPulse

post #2 of 35
Hi

On the price range, it wont be the top models. The north face seems nice, might work for you (depends on how sweaty you are and how humid is your environment) but not top of breathability. Also its a hardshell. But it has all the main shell features (uninsulated, pit zips) so must be nice.

In terms of softshell I like Mountain Hardwear, Marmot and Schoeler basic (Black Diamond Equipment, Mammut and some other brands use it)

There are some Mountain Hardwear Mixaction on sale on Sierra Trading Post, seems a nice one. Extremely breathable (some people might say too much, could make you cold). And you would still need to buy the insulation layer.

I'm a fan of Dry.q elite fabric, check it out if it interests you:

http://www.mountainhardwear.com/mens-mixaction-jacket-OM5527.html
post #3 of 35

I'd strongly suggest checking Sierra Trading Post, they often have good deals. Also the Clymb, although you have to register to see their inventory. Brands I'd recommend: Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Helly Hansen, Spyder, Patagonia, Marker, Salomon...

 

Also, I think you are actually in the market for a shell, not a soft shell. You want a wind proof, waterproof outer shell jacket that doesn't have insulation. A soft shell is a slightly different material, which isn't as wind/waterproof, and I don't typically use it as an outer layer. 

post #4 of 35
Quote:
 
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

 

I'd strongly suggest checking Sierra Trading Post, they often have good deals. Also the Clymb, although you have to register to see their inventory. Brands I'd recommend: Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Helly Hansen, Spyder, Patagonia, Marker, Salomon...

 

 

 

Also, I think you are actually in the market for a shell, not a soft shell. You want a wind proof, waterproof outer shell jacket that doesn't have insulation. A soft shell is a slightly different material, which isn't as wind/waterproof, and I don't typically use it as an outer layer. 

 

 

It's not that simple regarding softshells. Mountain hardwear, Marmot makes softshells which they claim are 100% waterproof. They are, by the way, seam tapered (with a special stretchy tape) so that the claim is really valid, in my opinion. Helly Hansen claims their softshell is waterproof, but under heavy rain I did see some water leak through the seam (they are non seam tapered) in my jacket (although it was really really heavy rain, I've skied with it and seems perfect for that).

 

And then there are some Schoeller that doesnt claim 100% waterproof that honestly in practical terms it is. I skied under rain this season in my Black Diamond Dawn Patrol pants, which BDE claims water resistant only, and I could see no leaks (plus it dries extremely fast - as in a visit to the hut for a hot chocolate interval). So even something that says "water resistant" might be enough.

 

Mountain hardwear has dry.q elite garments in both soft and hard shell, and with neoshell its the same, you can get both ways too.

 

One point I dislike is that lots of softshells dont have pit zips, It is true some of them breathes so well that you wouldnt need 95% of the time, but sometimes they would be handy.

 

Also, for pants of those super breathable materials I have heard complaints (and have some myself) that they are actually too cold for resort skiing. I certainly felt some cold in my legs in the coldest windiest days, but I think its a small price to pay for the performance in normal to hot conditions.

post #5 of 35

I ski in a NorthFace Triclimate jacket.  I like it. most times, I will take the inner jacket out and just use the shell over a couple of layers (base layer and Under Armor pullover).  My only complaint is the inner jacket doesn't really breath, which is why I usually take it out and create my own layers.  The inner jacket does work well on the really cold days though.

 

With regards to being waterproof, I've never had any issues.  It wouldn't be my first choice in a heavy downpour, but I've worn it through snowstorms and light to moderate rain and never had an issue.  If you're looking for taped seams and zippers, I'd look elsewhere.  I've never had the need for a jacket built like that though.

 

I've had mine at least 7 years.  I use it for skiing and a pretty much every other outdoor activity in the winter and have no complaints.  It has held up really well.

post #6 of 35

It might just be me but I always break Northface zippers.  They'll fix them for free but you're out of a jacket for a month.  Besides that they are decent value on sale.

 

From my experience most jackets loose their waterproofing after a season, and need to be treated after that.  In light of this if you live near a city you could find a barely used one on Craigslist for $50.  I got my backup Columbia on craiglist and it  is warmer than Northface but slightly less  breathable.

post #7 of 35

I have used Eddie Bauer Weather Edge jackets, one is over 10 years old and still keeps me dry, the second is only two years old and the reason that I purchased it was when they go on sale you can get them at a great price.  Go on line and check out their web site, they may not be high fashion but they sure do last.  They have cheaper ones that are not Weather Edge but if you want to stay dry the Weather Edge jackets are worth a little extra money.  I have also owned Columbia jackets, one was fair and the other was terrible. I will not be a repeat buyer of Columbia.  I do own one North Face jacket but it is too new to give you an evaluation, purchased it from a store that was going out of business so I got it for a very cheap price.  In time I will know if they live up to all the hype of the North Face name.

post #8 of 35


If you get up quickly enough, you don't really need waterproofing.      Just shake the snow off.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ElectroPulse View Post

 

TL;DR: 1. Any recommendations for good soft-shell jackets for a beginner skiier (expecting lots of falls, so moderate to heavy waterproofing with good breathability is what I'm looking for) in the <$150 range,

post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the replies!

 

At this point, trying to decide between a shell with high breathability, or one with high waterproofing. The snow I grew up with was always wet (West Virginia), which is probably why I am looking for something with good waterproofing... However, I very recently moved to Idaho, where so far it seems it's drier. Any recommendations which way to go with this? (I'm guessing more breathable) I would like to be able to keep skiing in the event of some slushing/raining, so some waterproofing is definitely desirable.

 

Also, I get cold fairly easily (and when warm, sweat fairly easily)... Not a great combination.

 

Also, two other questions I've thought of (about layering, not specifically about jackets):

1. When talking to an employee of a local outdoor equipment store, they mentioned that wicking from a base layer to a midlayer was more effective when using the same thing (merino->merino, or synthetic->synethetic). They said it was because of the way that wicked, and it took longer to change from one type to another. Is this true, and if so, is there any kind of noticeable difference if I opt for a mix? (I've recently purchased a merino base layer on-sale, but unfortunately the mid-layer merino stuff is more expensive)

2. Are all fleeces created at least semi-equal? I've seen stuff about "micro-fleece," but haven't come across nearly as much discussion about the benefits of premium fleece mid-layers vs. cheap ones. Is there any kind of noticeable difference between a $100 fleece mid-layer jacket and a $25 one?

post #10 of 35

IMO, with your perspiration issues and where you ski, the pick would be 'Go breathable but *windproof*'.


1.  I don't think it's really a material issue  so much as a wicking rate matching issue.     Example: my Hind synthetic baselayer is pretty closely woven and whenever I wear it under a waffle-print synthetic fleece it gets clammy - because the waffle print fleece circulates too much air.    If I wear it under merino or a PowerDry synthetic it's fine (and one of the best baselayers I own for fit and stretch).

2. Yes and no.     Premium fleece is mostly about fit, movement/stretch features and various wicking assists or windproofing add-ons.    The big advantage to premium fleece is that it lasts a long time, without getting terribly dated for features.  

Budget fleece can be very warm and very functional, esp, if everything else around it works.

post #11 of 35
Hi

Some comments:

- If you get cold very easily these highly breathable softshells might leave you cold (maybe adding more insulation layers could help, but that's limited for bottoms)

- My experience with softshells in very humid and rainy is that they hold like a hardshell (but I'm talking about neoshell and dry.q elite, in the top end of the spectrum). No problems in bum area when seating in wet chairlifts or shoulders where backpack makes contact

- For insulation I've tried merino midlayers (smartwool has one with a third of synthetic material that keeps its form), which can get a bit heavy when wet, and synthetic down (mountain hardwear thermostatic and North Face thermoball). I like them and they perform well

- For baselayers I have no idea if what the vendor mentioned is true. I'm wearing a Nike combat baselayer and/or helly hansen hh warm merino-synthetic hybrid, which is really amazing)
post #12 of 35

EMS Orion Jacket is about $120.

post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectroPulse View Post
 

Also, I get cold fairly easily (and when warm, sweat fairly easily)... Not a great combination.

 

Also, two other questions I've thought of (about layering, not specifically about jackets):

1. When talking to an employee of a local outdoor equipment store, they mentioned that wicking from a base layer to a midlayer was more effective when using the same thing (merino->merino, or synthetic->synethetic). They said it was because of the way that wicked, and it took longer to change from one type to another. Is this true, and if so, is there any kind of noticeable difference if I opt for a mix? (I've recently purchased a merino base layer on-sale, but unfortunately the mid-layer merino stuff is more expensive)

2. Are all fleeces created at least semi-equal? I've seen stuff about "micro-fleece," but haven't come across nearly as much discussion about the benefits of premium fleece mid-layers vs. cheap ones. Is there any kind of noticeable difference between a $100 fleece mid-layer jacket and a $25 one?

 

I don't get cold easily, but I HATE getting sweaty when skiing (and it makes me cold, of course).  I use either a light merino base layer, or Helly Hansen Warm (amazing stuff) under a synthetic down midlayer and a hardshell (with put zips).  The mid is designed without real insulation in the armpits, which works well with the zips in the shell to dump excess heat.  Keeps me toasty but not sweaty

 

I really don't think the store advice was correct - each layer needs to move moisture outwards on its own.  If any one layer traps it, you will start to get wet there and it will spread inwards as you sweat more.  In my experience, that ability in each layer is more important that exact materials (at least for wicking).  

 

I like fleece a lot less than the light puffy mid layers (I find it warmer, but less controlled - too sweaty and bulk for my taste), but in my experience the big difference between high end and low end is design and bulk.  A bulky heavy fleece will be less comfortable and move moisture less well than a slim, well designed piece (my favourite is from HH, and has a different material down the sides and the pits to keep sweat moving outwards).  Also, some fleece will be warmer for a given thickness.  Given similar fit, materials and bulk, I suspect price then becomes largely about branding.  

post #14 of 35

If I only could have one jacket for $150, I would consider this:

http://www.steepandcheap.com/gear-cache/stoic-on-sale/SIC0100-BUR

post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the replies!

 

After reading through them, as well as other places around online, and re-evaluating my needs (such as coming to the conclusion that I am more likely to get cold than I am to sweat a lot, etc.), I am looking at a jacket with the following qualities:

-Hardshell

-Uninsulated (figure I can always add more mid-layers when necessary, but it could also double as a windbreaker at other times)

-Somewhat higher priority on waterproofing than breathability, but something breathable would be good (for windproofing, as well as since it's looking like the rest of this season is going to be moist here (starting to warm up). I can always get a more breathable jacket next season if I find it necessary)

-Armpit zips are a plus

-Around $150 (though this is becoming more of a soft number after having somewhat adjusted my expectations when looking around... Possibly as high as $200)

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Smartyiak View Post
 

If I only could have one jacket for $150, I would consider this:

http://www.steepandcheap.com/gear-cache/stoic-on-sale/SIC0100-BUR

Unfortunately by the time I saw your post, the sale had ended. I looked up the item number based on the URL, and it looks like a great jacket! Good reviews about it. Was that the insulated or uninsulated version? If it came up again, I'd definitely consider it.

 

I see online that it makes frequent appearances on SteapAndCheap... How often does it usually show up?

post #16 of 35

It was the insulated one. I'm actuallly wearing mine today. It is very warm, so I only wear it on COLD days...but it has pit zips to dump heat, so if it's your only jacket. I've had mine about 4yrs and it's been solid. Stoic is/was backcountry.com's house brand, so you have someone standing behind it as well. Not bad for an inexpensive piece.

post #17 of 35


I have mixed materials from base to mid layers and have not had any issues.  Waterproof is better than breathable, you can always let air in some way.  As far as fleece goes if it is a mid layer I think price is not important, if it is an outer layer that is a different story some fleece is more wind proof than others.  If it has to do only one thing save your money for lift tickets, if it has to do double duty spend a little extra.  One of mine is made with "PolarTec" material it is warm and good in the wind but it is not a big name manufacture and did not break the bank. 

 

Good Luck and let us know what you end up purchasing.

post #18 of 35
post #19 of 35

i don't think this is a good idea as the shipping+return shipping on ebay items add up quick.

post #20 of 35

I'd also check Backcountry.com. For instance, they have this Mountain Hardware shell that looks nice to me :

 

http://www.backcountry.com/mountain-hardwear-superconductor-hooded-insulated-jacket-mens?skid=MHW00J0-AMP-S&ti=UExQIENhdDpNZW4ncyBJbnN1bGF0ZWQgSmFja2V0czoxOjQwOmNhdDEwMDIwODUwOA==

 

Or maybe this TNF one :

 

http://www.backcountry.com/the-north-face-apex-elevation-softshell-jacket-mens?skid=TNF00UJ-TNFREDGRE-L&ti=UExQIENhdDpNZW4ncyBJbnN1bGF0ZWQgSmFja2V0czoxOjc6Y2F0MTAwMjA4NTA4

 

I can't vouch for those personally, but they seem nice for the price. They're having a sale just through today on some items, and I've found them reliable in the past. (I got a TNF down jacket from them earlier this year, and it came quickly for a good price.)

post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post
 

i don't think this is a good idea as the shipping+return shipping on ebay items add up quick.

The first one I posted had free shipping and you aren't going to find a better deal than a Norrona Gore-Tex jacket for $100 that has barely been worn.  Why would return shipping fees be any cheaper with a budget online store? Very rarely will you find one with free return shipping and many will only give store credit for returns. Some are also final sales and not returnable.  I know specifically with theclymb.com they will give store credit back and the base return fee is $6.99.

post #22 of 35

You could buy my marmot palisades I have for sale :) I need to thin out the herd!

post #23 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thank you again for the replies!

 

@cjayflo: Thanks for the invite, but I'm looking at probably a large ;)

 

Quote:

Hmm... Never heard of Norrona. I've been reading about them, and from what everyone says about them they're a top-tier brand. My concerns with them though: 1. Do secondhand items maintain the warranty? I've seen other companies state that their warranties are only good for the first owner. I've been unable to find anything (including in their warranty info) about this. I would assume I would need to at least produce proof of original purchase, if for nothing more than the 5-year warranty limit. 2. They're a Norwegian company, so dealing with warranty/repair/whatever would likely take longer and be more costly than a US-based company, if something indeed were to come up.

 

 

I'll do some more reading about them, but at this point I am eyeing the Mountain Hardwear Minalist (seeing it online @$180)... Seems to check off the boxes of qualities I am looking for in a jacket (as outlined in my previous post), and their CS seems to be excellent from what I've read. It's made of that Dry.Q Elite fabric, and people are saying it's great at keeping water out, and super breathable (for a hardshell).

post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectroPulse View Post

Hmm... Never heard of Norrona. I've been reading about them, and from what everyone says about them they're a top-tier brand. My concerns with them though: 1. Do secondhand items maintain the warranty? I've seen other companies state that their warranties are only good for the first owner. I've been unable to find anything (including in their warranty info) about this. I would assume I would need to at least produce proof of original purchase, if for nothing more than the 5-year warranty limit. 2. They're a Norwegian company, so dealing with warranty/repair/whatever would likely take longer and be more costly than a US-based company, if something indeed were to come up.


I'll do some more reading about them, but at this point I am eyeing the Mountain Hardwear Minalist (seeing it online @$180)... Seems to check off the boxes of qualities I am looking for in a jacket (as outlined in my previous post), and their CS seems to be excellent from what I've read. It's made of that Dry.Q Elite fabric, and people are saying it's great at keeping water out, and super breathable (for a hardshell).

Mountain Hardwear is definitely good stuff. Can't really go wrong with them. Norrona makes some great quality stuff and while I haven't had to deal with their warranty, I have contacted their CS department a few times and they've been very helpful and responsive. I just happened to see those two recently and both are rather good deals. I'm a size medium or else I probably would have picked one of them up even though I already have a Lofoten jacket from them. Really good condition Norrona jackets don't always pop up for that low even on eBay.
post #25 of 35

I just picked up a new Columbia Bugaboo 3-in-1 Interchange jacket from REI.  Was $175, on sale for $125 plus another 30% off, and with the last $11 of my annual dividend paying the tax for the governor, it came to $85.  This one has the "Omni Tech" thermal reflectivity layer in the fleece liner.  The other one I got a couple years back had the thermal reflectivity layer in the outer shell.  I often wear just the outer shell of that older one alone, it's warm enough by itself for a lot of Pac NW conditions (sloppy cold rain down to the mid-to-high 30's).  Haven't skied in it that way (shell only) yet.  I've skied in the older one 3 times this year, from 16 degrees to maybe 32+ degrees, and no complaints.  Will wear the new one for the first ski later this week.

 have the basic polyester insulated Bugaboo pants too, that I got for just $25 off Amazon.  So $110 for both jacket AND pants.  I'll look for the better Bugaboo II pants with the Omni Tech feature for next season.  They're maybe $38 to $95, depending on where you get 'em and when.  I don't ski all that hard, but do work up a bit of sweat on all but the coldest days.  I got a bit chilly on the chairlift on that 16 degree day, mostly, I think, because there was also a cold, windy fog blowing over the hill.  Next season I'll carry a "Turtle Tube" and/or balaclava when temps are below about 25.

Layering is king, regardless of WHAT you buy and wear.  One layer of wool or wool blend is pretty much a must in my book.  Wool is the only thing I know of that will keep you warm when it's wet.  Maybe there is something new that is better, but Mother Nature has been perfecting wool for millions of years. 

post #26 of 35

as you get more experienced, you will simply use lighter gear, but more layers. Vented jacket/pant shells allow for more control if you wind up over-dressed. I'd much rather be a little chilled, then what results from wearing too much (sweat, then the freeze/cook cycle repeats).

 

If at all possible, try on the jacket BRANDS you are considering. Different brands fit differently. For example, most in the Arcteryx line fit folks that are very fit (like 5'10" 160lb fit). If you are even remotely "portly" they won't fit you properly, and to get the waist to fit the sleeves or pant legs will be far too long.

 

Good luck!

post #27 of 35

Hi everyone!

 

I too have some questions regarding which jacket to get and I definitely don't want to pay a fortune for it.. What do you think I should pay attention to, feature-wise? What brands should I check out first? I am a new skier and want to be prepared for my winter vacation ^^

 

Thanks in advance!

post #28 of 35

Hello JoannaSQ, welcome to epic ski.

Your question is quite common on this site and much has already be written.  If you do a search on Epicski for "best ski jacket" (and perhaps other combinations) you'll find many posts to read thru for your answers.  Also, when responding to threads in the future check the date of the last post.  In this case it's been several months since the thread was active.

post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdleuck View Post
 

Hello JoannaSQ, welcome to epic ski.

Your question is quite common on this site and much has already be written.  If you do a search on Epicski for "best ski jacket" (and perhaps other combinations) you'll find many posts to read thru for your answers.  Also, when responding to threads in the future check the date of the last post.  In this case it's been several months since the thread was active.

Thanks for your message jdleuck! I will try to go through the ski jacket related threads again, but most of them have been inactive for a while.. Anyhow, thanks again for the advice!

post #30 of 35

If you haven't already, then take a look at these 2 threads:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/106540/best-ski-jacket-shell/60

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/23506/is-gore-tex-still-king

 

And keep in mind that if your diligent looking online for sales (and aren't particular about color) it's possible to find even the 4 - 5 hundred dollar shells in the $150 range.  (Though it also helps if you can use a non-standard size).  And keep in mind, as others have mentioned, Columbia offers a range of jackets on the lower end that can be a good option for someone not necessarily wanting to ski in storm conditions .

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