As the winter season wraps up I’ve reluctantly been taking all of my well-worn, totally thrashed but completely functional gear off the hangers and switching it up for summer. When this happens you notice two things: (1) your gear really needs a wash; and (2) some pieces are far more worn than others.
So we’d like to share with you what all of us here at NN wore during the winter—in short, what worked for us. Now, as everyone is radically different in body shape and size, and what works for my unfortunately (and permanently) frozen girlfriend does not work for me—I would die if I wore as many layers—please take the below with a grain of salt.
Also, this be the gear that works well in the Coast Range, so adjust for local conditions. That said, we saw deep cold and blower pow this year, as well as more normal zero degree celsius days and wetter precipitation. In a way, the Coast provides a challenging environment for gear, as the conditions are often damp, with changes in weather from the top of the mountain to the bottom, from powder to an outright sleetfest and slush rain. So this is the gear that appears to keep on tickin’, after all that lickin’… or something like that.
So, first up is the behind-the-scenes webmaster of Escape Route and ski touring addict Corey Gagnon.
In this fine picture you will see he is sporting the Outdoor Research Credo softshell. He wears the jacket and pants for both touring and inbounds days. When the weather gets lousy or cold, he pulls out an Arc’Teryx Alpha LT jacket (with Credo pants, below):
Here’s what he has to say about his set-up:
I use an OR Credo softshell jacket. But when it gets extremely windy or wet snow/rain I throw on my Alpha LT jacket. I like it because it is extremely light and packs small, but is still Gore-Tex Pro Shell (unlike the SL which is PacLite). It spends most of its time in my pack, as with fluffy dry snow I just use my softshell.
I also have the matching OR Credo softshell pants which I use pretty much everyday (including lift days). Great breathability, great moisture wicking, great water repellancy and they dry quick.
As for the Alpha LT hood, I don’t find it bunches up at all. It is shaped so that you can have the collar zipped all the way up and not wear the hood, yet still be comfortable. Having the separate collar I find increases weight and bulk around the neck which I don’t like. I stayed away from the Beta SL because it is a shorter jacket. It is designed for use with a harness so it comes just below the stomach line and pretty much sits just above your harness. The Beta works well if you have a pair of bib pants underneath (which I don’t like because they are too hot), otherwise, be prepared for getting lots of snow up the jacket. The Theta SL is longer. Comes down below the waist. Alpha is in the middle and just the right length.
I chose the LT over the SV because it offers the same wind/water proofness, it’s just a little less durable but significantly lighter. Same Gore-Tex Pro Shell, just a different face fabric—which also makes it a great summer rain jacket. The SV, I find, is too heavy and bulky for summer missions.
That being said, I don’t count the grams. I’m not like those extreme alpinists that require the lightest of the lightest. I just don’t like wearing a lot of bulky cloths. I prefer comfort and freedom of movement.
So there you have it, some feedback from the field. More on the way… and if you have requests for gear reviews, let us know in the comment field below.