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Who Makes the Best Parkas?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I need a new parka and was wondering who makes the best...don't care about bargains necessarily. Columbia ice dragons seem to have most features but the material seems stiffer than typical.

Anyhow - - there's a show in town this coming weekend...so tell me what to look at.
post #2 of 42
You have to take into considertaion, materials, color, length, features, insulation, etc

At a minimum, look for something made w/Gore Tex, preferable a two-ply like the XCR type.
post #3 of 42
post #4 of 42
I love my Helly Hanson stuff.
post #5 of 42
Personally I use Columbia, a higher end model in their line from 3 years ago, detachable hood, pit zips, removable liner etc.

The new Omnitech Titanium Line from columbia is great stuff

Yes some of the waterproof clothing will seem stiffer. High quality material will use more threads per inch to acheive a tighter weave in the material making it heavier and more water repellant or waterproof.

Killy makes excellent gear and so does Obermeyer; it's expensive.
If you want very expensive check out Bogner.
A lot of companies make excellent gear but I believe that you can get the quality without the astronomical prices.
Shop around, do your homework and for God's sake don't pay full retail. Last years stuff should be going for about half off around now.

Here's the kicker though. Snowboard clothing has gotten away from the grunge look in the last couple of years.
My son has a jacket and pants (2 yrs. old) made by a company called 686. With no word of a lie this is some of the finest quality winter wear i have ever seen. High quality waterproof fabrics (Goretex equivalent or better), double stiching, sealed seams, pockets galore, etc. Considered this stuff to be excellent value for the money, definitely worth a look.

At lot of the board wear has had input from riders and they appear to listen when it comes to the durability and functionality issues

Descente, Helly Hansen, North Face.......all great but more expensive than Columbia

Whatever you choose to do don't go cheap, it really only costs an extra nickel in the long run to go first class.

Bottom line in my opinion is Columbia ... all the quality you need plus OK prices
post #6 of 42
I love my Killy A.W.T. model jacket. It has lots of great features and keeps me warm. I also got mine at half price.

It is the best coat I have ever owned by far!!! Top quality.

Ty
post #7 of 42
I love my North Face gear. Bought a Steep Tech jacket when I moved to Tahoe in 92. Have over 500 days in that jacket! It came with TNF's lifetime warranty so it's been back a handful of times for :
zipper replacement
button replacement
velcro cuff replacement.

Have a couple pair of TNF ski pants too, both w/full side zips. One just a shell, the other insulated. Both have been sent back to TNF more than once for all the above.

Whatever you buy, make sure it comes with a lifetime warranty! Use it enough and you'll be a satisfied customer!
post #8 of 42
http://www.haglofs.se/ They are doing some test marketing in Canada and are not available in the USA but they are a Swedish company that makes really great gear. The North Face, Patagonia, SOS, are very durable and functional as well. In particular I've found the North Face warranty program to be excellent.

I've heard a lot of good things about Marmot, Arc'teryx and Mountain Hardwear, Helly Hansen also.

Among these brands it's probably a lot like choosing among top of the line skis. It's really a matter of personal preference.
post #9 of 42
Marmot
post #10 of 42
Marmot is good. Mountain Hardwear is better. Both will take you anywhere you want to go. Helly Hansen is sturdy and rugged but heavy and doesn't breathe well.
post #11 of 42
No mention of Spyder? I use their Jacket and Pants and todate I've never been either cold or indeed wet. Ok, so a lil expensive, but at what price warmth and comfort Loads of pockets, detachable sleeves for warm things warm up and a useful pocket on the back of the jacket.
post #12 of 42
I've used Karbon stuff the last two seasons and love it. I just got another Karbon jacket last week. The bibs and jackets are bullet-proof. The coats have detachable lined hoods, zip-off sleeves, powder skirts and loads of pockets. It looks great too.
post #13 of 42
I have used there stuff for four years and have never had a single problem! If you ask anyone in the outdoor industry they will confirm that Mountain Hardwear makes great stuff!http://www.mountainhardwear.com/
post #14 of 42
Karbon for the features, and durability.
post #15 of 42
post #16 of 42
Ok, Just to confuse the issue: PEAK PERFORMANCE. Oddly. they don't distribute int he states but with a little research you might be able to mail order. I received a set of from them - bibs, parka, other accessories for the WORLD CUP finals in BC in '99. It's bomb proof.
post #17 of 42
I also wear Karbon, mostly because I get a goods deal through my ski area. I will have to say they make quality good though...very nice materials and functional

[ November 13, 2002, 08:17 AM: Message edited by: Shea-bird ]
post #18 of 42
I wear Karbon for work and have found it acts like a sponge. Looks good but I would not want it for my personal coat.
post #19 of 42
Chlorophylle, based in Quebec, Only available in Canada, but you can get some great deals with the current exchange rate.

I have their Franklin Parka from 3-4 years ago. It's so good that I just sold my unused Arc'Teryx Alpha SV parka 'cause it sucked in comparison (and that was a damn good parka!).

http://www.chlorophylle.net/english/contact/00.html

[ November 13, 2002, 08:46 AM: Message edited by: BadRat ]
post #20 of 42
In general, stuff from mountaineering manufacturers is better made and designed, with less attention to fashion and more to function. Marmot, Patagonia, Mt. Hardwear, Arcteryx, Lowe Alpine, North Face, even REI- all excellent, and the decision will rest on personal fit, design, and price issues. You also need to decide if you want a shell and layers (of fleece, for example), which I believe is more versatile and adjustable for differing conditions, or a single garment. If you are not in the Northwest, and you don't need absolute waterproof protection, you might want to take a look at the new softshell garments- most of those companies make several. They are more breathable than even Goretex XCR, and are supposed to be comfortable over a wider temp range without changing layers.

Most of these are expensive, but last a LONG time- super durable and well-made, with lifetime warrantees and super customer service (I can second the opinion about North Face). HOWEVER-- you can also find great deals on things if you look. For example, the Marmot Stretch Armstrong jacket (a really first rate shell!) is available at Mountain Gear (www.mgear.com) for only $169 (reg $375). I just got an Arcteryx Alpha SV shell (it won the American Alpine Institute Guide's Choice award) from the REI outlet website for 40% off, and my wife found a North Face Mt Light jacket for $129 at EMS (reg $400).
post #21 of 42
This is a great thread as I'm also looking at getting a new jacket this year. Is the main stream deal now just a shell for around $300? or do this jackets have a liner in them, and how warm are they really if they are just a shell? I've been looking at the Helly Hanson stuff for a long time at the REI outlet site, but they all seem to be shells. I realize that the shells are windproof, waterproof, and all that jazz, but is the shell warm enough compared to our jackets of the past? I work at a sporting goods store and I can get TNF and Columbia stuff for dirt cheap but I'm more interested in Helly Hanson which we dont' carry. I also really love my Spyder jacket, but (sorry to just about everyone out there), it is a few years old and I get razed everyday for looking like a ski instructor. I see that Spyder is getting more into the new school look so maybe I'll give them a shot too. The stuff that Dean Cummings has developed with Rotor Sports also looks like incredible gear, but again it is advertised as a shell which confuses me.
post #22 of 42
7 Mary 3:

I have used the Helly Hanson Anorak shell for years. I usually don’t need much more than a long sleeve thermal and a short sleeve over shirt. But if it gets really cold, I have a thin stretch fleece vest, a mid weight fleece vest, a fleece pullover and other layering cloths. I prefer the layering method to the true parka with insulation, since it gives me ultimate freedom.

I bought my Helly at the outlet store in Bend, Oregon and they have stood behind the product (it needed a new throat zipper 2 years ago – no hassles and no charge for the replacement and good turnaround time). I would find what you like and try on for size, and then try to find the same product at an outlet store and have them ship to you.

Mark
post #23 of 42
There's an old inuit lady near Tuktayuktuk who makes parkas from cariboo hide and seal skin. Her husband uses one in temperatures as low as -70c.
post #24 of 42
Notwithstanding the prominent advertising of the following manufacturers in Rock Climbing periodicals, I would look at what professional expeditioneers use. If they have to use that gear day in and day out for expedition based travel that lasts upwards of 30 days, they have their pick of gear. Many of them use TNF, Patagonia, Mountain Hardware and Marmot.

I would have to say my exploits are more tame, but with the OEM warranties and the testimonials of people with higher endurance, performance and freak-out thresholds than me, I would trust their judgement. I use both TNF and Patigonia. You will have to sacrifice fashion for performance and will probably have to go to a three layer system (Shell, Insulation, and Wicking material), but I have yet to get cold since I have been converted. And to quote an old Taryton cigarette ad, "I would rather fight than switch".

-- form follows function [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] --
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Lostboy:
http://www.haglofs.se/ They are doing some test marketing in Canada ...
That is some really nice looking stuff. Any idea if HAGLOFS gear is available in Vancouver anywhere?
post #26 of 42
I second the Karbon nomination. Great stuff-kept me dry when my North Face 3-ply GoreTex jacket wouldn't. Plus, being made in Canada, the prices are in Canadian dollars the same as what you would expect to pay for Spider gear in American Dollars. My top of the line jacket and zip-leg bibs (detachable hood, powder skirt, sleeves ect on the jacket) was only going for $800 CDN retail, and a Spyder suit of similar quality will set you back $800 US. Definitely a great deal with the exchange rate (I got mine at 50% off, came out to about $250 US, what a deal!)

I haven't had great success with my North Face gear. My top of the line 3-ply packable mountaineering jacket (the Kichatna) doesn't stay dry at all. Both plastic hood closures have broken and the outer fabric has torn. I have had similiar failures with other TNF gear I have owned, their packs get holes rather easily compared to Arcterryx or Lowe gear. Marmot is great though, I would recommend them if you are looking toward mountaineering gear more so than the stuff you might use at a lift-served ski area (where I would use Karbon gear).
post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by 7 Mary 3:
This is a great thread as I'm also looking at getting a new jacket this year. Is the main stream deal now just a shell for around $300? or do this jackets have a liner in them, and how warm are they really if they are just a shell? I've been looking at the Helly Hanson stuff for a long time at the REI outlet site, but they all seem to be shells. I realize that the shells are windproof, waterproof, and all that jazz, but is the shell warm enough compared to our jackets of the past? I work at a sporting goods store and I can get TNF and Columbia stuff for dirt cheap but I'm more interested in Helly Hanson which we dont' carry. I also really love my Spyder jacket, but (sorry to just about everyone out there), it is a few years old and I get razed everyday for looking like a ski instructor. I see that Spyder is getting more into the new school look so maybe I'll give them a shot too. The stuff that Dean Cummings has developed with Rotor Sports also looks like incredible gear, but again it is advertised as a shell which confuses me.
Mary: Hi it is confusing. Think of the exterior shell gear components like armour. The purpose of shell gear tops & bottoms is to repell the harsh weather elements like rain, sleet, snow, wind, & any combination thereof. It is intended to be waterproof and windproof, while being able to breathe, ie-let moisture escape.

The insulation is usually a combination of base-layers-ie various weights of long underwear. The mid-layer is usually a medium to heavier weight fleece. These can be wind proof or wind resistant and provide the real warmth in very cold weather.

Now for the real art. That's how to mix and match the combination of gear I've mentioned, so that you don't overheat and sweat to death or freeze to death. Some brands I have found to be extremely good in the wet and very cold conditions of our White Mtns of northern New Hampshire include:

Marmot,Patagonia,Mt. Hardware, and North Face. Due to problems with quality I have given up on North Face. I typically ski or hike in a Marmot shell top, stretch fleece top and bottom heavy weight layer from Patagonia, Shell climbing pants from Patagonia, and gloves from Marmot. All of this also hinges on how easily you get cold.

Mary-One final note. You can go to Backpacker.com to review shell gear, fleece, etc. by then going to their "Gear Guide" section.
Good luck.

[img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] whtmt [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

[ November 13, 2002, 08:03 PM: Message edited by: whtmt ]
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Oklahoma:
I wear Karbon for work and have found it acts like a sponge. Looks good but I would not want it for my personal coat.
You got that right Oklahoma!!!!!!!!!! The only way I kept mine relatively dry, was to treat it with Nikwax direct wash-in.

[img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] : whtmt : [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #29 of 42
First of all,
IF AT ALL POSSIBLE BUY IT AT CAMPMOR.COM! They have the best proces. Now personally, I bought a Colombia Pile Trooper, and even though it just getting cold, it's the most bada** jacket I've ever had. I wore it out into a driving rainstorm and not a drop of water seeped through. Feels flexible and comfortable. But again, whatever you buy, I can't stress campmor enough. I'm not a rep for hem or anything! I'm only 15, but I got my Jacket there. It's normally $150+ I got it for $47.99
post #30 of 42
Funny story....
Having a conversation with a clothing designer, he was a total mountaineer/BC type. After he bashed Columbia product I asked him what he thought the best waterproof/breathable fabric was.
He said Lowe Triple Pointe Ceramic was the best avaiable. As I sat back with a grin and explained to him the the Lowe was the exact same thing as the Columbia Titanium coming out of the same factory he pretty much had nothing left to say.
I guess the pointe is that you can get just as good of a garment without paying the premium for a brand name (IE - Patagonia, TNF, Mtn Hardware).
It also depends on your usage. For skiing a Columbia Titanium would be great. If you plan on using it for climbing/mountaineering a 3-ply parka would be best, guess what Columbia makes those too.
I used to be a big Patagonia, Marmot fan and devoted user (still use the base layers) but the Columbia parka's and pants rock.
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