Times have changed in the world of winter apparel. Function and fashion are no longer mutually exclusive concepts. In response to several readers’ questions about quality women’s apparel for a day on the slopes, we had a team of female skiers and riders (ages 16 to 50) test a range of jackets designed specifically for skiing and snowboarding.
While the ski season maybe past its prime this winter, there’s still plenty of opportunities to use these now – and you may find great deals on them as retailers look to move their winter inventory to make room for new spring gear.
Testers raved about Mountain Hardwear’s Pictora Jacket. This waterproof / breathable parka boasts a modest layer of insulation to keep you warm without bulking up the jacket. The synthetic insulation provided plenty of warmth for skiing Washington’s relatively temperate resorts – testers said they might want more insulation for the sub-zero days that can hit Rocky Mountain ski slopes. The Dry.Q membrane in the shell provides perfect waterproofness with good breathability. For resort skiing, the breathability isn’t vital, but when skiing Cascade Concrete, waterproofness frequently stands as a jacket’s most important feature.
Since half of our team liked to flip hoods up over their helmets, and the other half hated hoods flopping around behind them, the Pictora’s zip-off helmet-compatible hood earned universal praise.
The Pictora earned style points from its outer face material of patterned nylon. Deep side pockets, with secure storm flaps, serve both fashion and function demands. Bottom line, the Pictora performs on the slopes of Crystal Mountain, and looks hot on the streets of Seattle. The jacket carries a suggested retail price of $275. For more information, visit www.mountainhardwear.com
The other jacket earning top marks came from Patagonia. The Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Jacket kept our women testers warm and dry during freezing rainstorms while slashing the slopes of Stevens Pass, and sealed out the extreme cold during some sub-zero days at Utah’s Snowbird. The Snowbelle’s waterproof-breathable shell is made with Patagonia’s H2NO membrane, while a thick layer of Thermogreen fill provides the jacket’s insulation.
Fashion-wise, our testers – young and old – praised the clean lines, and simple design. The Snowbelle retails for $279, but the Patagonia site currently offers it for $140. Visit www.patagonia.com for more information.