The 7 Best Resort Jackets of 2012
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Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Jacket
Clear out your closet. Here’s one jacket to replace them all. With three layers of light, stretchy Helly Tech fabric, the one-pound Odin is sleek and durable enough for alpine guides but still loaded with techy on-piste features. The zip-off powder skirt, helmet-compatible hood, clear pass pocket, and raised shoulder padding for carrying skis made it the top choice with in-bounds testers from the Tetons to the Cascades. And in sidecountry, Recco reflectors help ski patrol locate you if things go awry, while big pit zips and mesh-backed waist pockets double the venting for high-output ascents. Our only gripe is the price, though there’s more value than at first glance, since the Odin is just packable and lightweight enough to double as a backpacking jacket in warmer months. 1.1 lbs
Arc’teryx Micon Jacket
THE SELL: A mountaineering-bred brand lets down its hair. THE TEST: The freeride-inspired Micon is cut slightly looser than your typical Arc’teryx jacket. But it’s just as well-made: lightly insulated with top-shelf synthetic fill and waterproofed with Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric and welded seams, the Micon was easily the best-fitting jacket in the test. The detailing is what impressed us most, with four points of adjustment on the helmet-compatible hood (three is the norm), Recco reflectors, and ultra-soft interior fabrics. Even in swirling Wyoming powder, we could vent the mesh-backed pit zips and still stay warm and dry. THE VERDICT: Only its steep price kept the Micon out of the winner’s circle. 2.1 lbs.
Patagonia Down Primo Jacket
THE SELL: The warmth of down without wet-weather woes. THE TEST: Stuffed with 700-fill down, the Primo fought off a ten-below cold snap in British Columbia. Patagonia weather-sealed those toasty feathers in Gore’s new recycled-nylon fabric and added some length to the cut, which kept us dry when water was pooling on the chairlifts. Lest you think this is a puffer for sitting around a campfire, the Primo is brimming with ski-specific features, including a removable powder skirt, an insulated hood, and seven pockets (seven!). Note: some testers actually preferred the increased versatility of the uninsulated version, which costs $100 less. THE VERDICT: Who says down and wet climes don’t mix? 2.5 lbs
Mountain Hardwear Vertical Peak Jacket
THE SELL: An insulated hard shell with features, features, and more features. THE TEST: Mountain Hardwear packed a thin layer of synthetic insulation into its new Dry-Q Elite waterproof-breathable fabric for a jacket that kept its cool even on steamy spring days. “No hotbox here,” noted one tester. But the Vertical Peak is as well-appointed as it is breathable, with soft wrist gaskets, a zip-off powder skirt, goggle and ski-pass pockets (the latter in the forearm), and nice styling details. Strikes are minor: the insulated hood is too small for a ski helmet, and the pit zips aren’t as big as we’d like. THE VERDICT: A tricked-out, top-of-the-line everyday shell for a fraction of what you’d expect to pay. 2.4 lbs
DNA Moe Jacket
THE SELL: A hard shell that stretches your comfort and performance, not your wallet. THE TEST: DNA has dialed in this coat over the years with features such as the clear-faced, flip-down pass wallet and forearm vents that, along with the massive, extra-long pit zips, cool you down in a hurry. But the Moe is more than the sum of its bells and whistles. The heavy-duty fabric is as stretchy and quiet as any soft shell’s, and the hip-length cut, high, stiff collar, and double-wide front zipper flap make it as cozy as a storm shelter. Proof? The Moe was the go-to shell on a rainy Oregon ski day when other riders were donning trash-bag ponchos. “Just bomber,” said one tester. THE VERDICT: It’s one of the best-built jackets here, and it’s nice to get more than you pay for. 2 lbs
Columbia Melting Point Jacket
THE SELL: Three tricked-out jackets for the price of one. THE TEST: Historically, Columbia’s nesting jackets werre overbuilt and gawky. Not so the Melting Point, which mates a newfangled shell to a trim down-filled liner with snaps (not zips). The resulting package weights nearly 1.5 pounds less than the Bugaboos we all wore in middle school. Credit Columbia’s new Omni-Dry fabric, which moves moisture as well as any waterproof-breathable material on the market does, and the inner puffer is lined with metallic microdots for space-blanket-style heat retention. Together, the layers kept testers warm in 70-mpg Whistler gusts, while the liner solo made the grade for dinner reservations. THE VERDICT: Great update on an old idea. 2.4 lbs
Marmot Zion Jacket
THE SELL: A trim soft shell with the weatherproofness of a hard shell. THE TEST: The Zion is built with Polartec’s new NeoShell membrane, which is downy in the hand, impervious to the elements, and able to vent moisture so well that pit zips are irrelevant. Skiing Italy’s Dolomites in sloppy, sideways-blown snow, we loved the freedom and warmth of the stretchy, fleece-backed fabric. More important, we stayed dry as a thin-crust pizza. And though it’s superlight, the Zion still packs three-point tightening on the hood, an upper-arm pass pocket, and an internal media port. Our only wish was a longer hemline or powder skirt to keep out the snow. THE VERDICT: We’d take the Zion anywhere, from slashing through trees to climbing a sandstone tower. 1.4 lbs