This thread seems to be the place to deposit jackets review so I add my 0.02. I was quietly after a new truly waterproof ski jacket this season. I currently ski in a NeoShell FlyLow LabCoat, which is at 10,000 is fine for most days, but probably wont stand up to a nasty wet weather day in CA (when was the last time we had THAT?? but I digress). So I knew that my choice was limited to the newer GoreTexPro shells and eVent shells. I went through a few shells, so here are Cliffs notes impressions:
1. My usual go-to company for shells was Westcomb, but they seemed to abandon the skiing market and only sell a hybrid climbing/skiing shell in the forms of a Revenant jacket. It is a splendid piece of gear, the construction is as usual better than Arctryx, with every seam being impeccable, bit it is fairly trim fitting and does not have much pocket space to store gloves at lunch or an extra goggle pair. The hybrid construction probably makes it less bombproof than a full eVent jacket. Still made in Canada, which is a plus, as all other jackets are made in China. Westcomb- please re-issue or better yet update your freeride Vapor FX line. It may have not sold well, but among those who owned it customer satisfaction was sky-high.
2. Mountain Hardwear Compulsion jacket- this is their most high-end DryQElite (eVent) shell, and it is a nice piece of kit. However, if you are used to Arcteryx, Patagonia, Westcomb, you will notice that the design and construction are not up to those standards, the jacket just seems to have some extra fabric here and there. It will do fine, but you don't get a sense that you are buying high end gear, and it is more palces for the sweat and moisture to trap. If you go MH, you may want to look at their Minalist jacket instead.
3. Patagonia Primo. This is not their highest end shell (that honor belongs to the stratospherically-priced $699 PowSlayer), but they billed it as their burliest. Burly it is, no nonsence thick fabric and a very generous almost baggy cut. Patagonia always was almost intentionally un-fashionable, and this jacket will not win any awards in the slick fit department. However, it is non-restrictive, roomy, and covers all the bases. This is also one of the few jackets that has a sleeve pocket for the pass. The industry has moved to RFID passes, sand most ski jacket manufacturers are still stuck in a wicket world. Cudos to Patagonia for thinking about a pace to put your season pass or ticket and forget about it. The construction is unexpectedly impressive, fully on-par with Arcteryx and in some areas slicker (the powder skirt for example, is a work of art). There are also all the required little things, such as the back collar stiffener to keep the collar sitting properly- something that drives me nuts in the Lab Coat.
4. Black Diamond Front Point. This is the new kid on the block, and I always admired BD for their tendency to make well-thought out unfussy gear that just works. This is the shell that I really wanted to like- the colors are great, the styling is cool, and the quality seems to be right there with the top guys. They are also the only company that uses Vislon zippers for both central zipper and the chest pocket zippers. Vislon are easier to open and they are more waterproof than the usual coated coil variety you find on most pockets. A few things made that shell to go back. First of all, this is a climbing shell, so no powder skirt, and no pass pocket. Although the pockets are fairly generous, the openings are small, and there is not a single small zipped pocket to keep your pass in. The "media" pocket could do it, but it is angled to allow you to take your phone in and out, not great for the pass. The deal-breaker was the fit, their Large fits almost like a European Large, very trim to the point of being restrictive in the arms and shoulders, definitely leaves no room for any insulating layers. I am also not very fond of the central zipper pull being a large metal bar, its durable and nice, but I don't want that thing to flap at speed in front of my face. The hood also seemed too small to accommodate a freeride helmet.
5. Arcteryx Rush. This is not surprisingly the closest competitor to Patagonia and Arcteryx's version of an all-around resort ski jacket (Caden is their ultimate shell). It ticks all the checkmarks, powder skirt, pass pocket (yes!). I didn't like the thin stiff crinkly fabric, I get that it works, and it makes the jacket very light, but I much prefer the thicker and seemingly less noisy fabric on the Patagonia. I also don't like how Arcteryx's line has fragmented over the years with almost a dozen waterproof jackets making the choice more confusing than it should be.
With the weather in CA not being any wetter than it is in summer, I have time to look around, but so far Patagonia Primo takes my vote for the top choice in resort waterproof skiing jacket. It ticks all the checkboxes on features, and the construction is unexpectedly high-end fully on par with Arcteryx and maybe exceeding it in a few spots. As general comment, I resent the move by the high-end guys to make more backcountry-oriented shells, I guess they are counting for aspirational purchases, but most of the time the shell never leaves the resort, and resort skiers deserve something better than the sub-par Spyder and Karbon jackets and sweet and progressive but oh so sweaty Trew garments. But again, with Tahoe weather, a waterproof shell fully counts as an aspirational purchase.
Edited by alexzn - 1/30/15 at 3:15pm