Q:

Can you recommend a stylish ski jacket?

I looking to buy a new ski jacket, something stylish, warm, comfortable (not too bulky), and easily accessible. I'm after something different. How about Spyder? Danilo Arlington, Virginia

Jan 6, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine

Primo Jacket

A: Sure, a Spyder jacket would be exceedingly stylin'. How about the St. Anton ($625; www.spyder.com), a sharp-looking, insulated jacket with a laminated waterproof-breathable shell, removable hood, goggle pocket, pit zips, and more? A little dear, price-wise, but very nice indeed!

But it raises a question: Do you want an insulated piece such as the St. Anton, or a shell that can be used with various types of layered insulation? Personally, I'm in the latter camp. I have a somewhat archaic Patagonia anorak that I use as a ski shell, and under it I'll wear anything from a light turtleneck for spring skiing to an insulated shell over a midweight turtleneck when it's c-c-c-cold. With an insulated shell, about all you can do is make it warmer by adding layers under it. You can't really adapt it for days when you don't need that much.

So while I think the St. Anton would be a fine piece—and maybe you know from personal experience that 90 percent of your ski days take place when it's 25 degrees or colder—you might look as well at an uninsulated shell. Patagonia's Primo Jacket ($350, though currently discounted at $210; www.patagonia.com) is a first-rate skiing shell, with Gore-Tex XCR, a hood that can fit helmets, light wicking lining, and more. Plus it's got a classic look that won't date. Along with it, get an Arc'teryx Maverick AR Jacket ($169; www.arcteryx.com), a warm Polartec piece that will layer nicely under the Primo and could even be used standalone on warmer, dry days. Or, any decent generic Polartec piece—such as L.L. Bean's Katahdin Fleece Pullover ($65; www.llbean.com)—would work just fine, paired with most any midweight underwear, such as Marmot's Midweight Zip LS ($45; www.marmot.com).

So that's my take. Layering works really well, so my vote is in that direction.

For more expert reviews, check out Outside Online's Ski Gear Buying Guide.

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