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Jackets - what's best?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Looking to get a new ski jacket very soon. Anybody got any tips as to what's best? What are the Rolls Royces of ski jackets, what are the Ferraris, what are the Trabants? What features are essential, and what are a waste of money or a pain in the butt? What are the expensive designer show-off all-the-gear-but-no-idea avoid-at-all-costs brands, and are there any that are only known to people in the know but are actually way better than well-known stuff?

I don't need spectacular thermal properties as I overheat when skiing as it is, and I'd definitely want those under-arm zippy things for cooling off. And pockets, I like pockets. Lots of them, preferably large. I'm not necessarily looking for something cheap either, just the best.

Thanks in advance for any pointers snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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moosepig, everyone is going to have their own favourites but I've used SOS, Skiwear of Sweden, for years, not the cheapest but it's aways worked for me, I like the look of MoVers also Swedish but again not cheap. Tthis year I've looked at Dynastar's new range, they've just moved into clothing. Their gear looks very well made and pratical, but no experience of it's thermal capabilities, although the guy heading the project was one of the World's top skiers, so his input should mean they've covered all the bases. My wife prefers Spyder, also very well made, warm and hard wearing but again expensive. SOS, MoVers and Spyder were stocked by Slush and Rubble, I'v no idea if they still are it's been some years since I bought any new gear.
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moosepig, How deep's your pocket and how shallow your taste? wink
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This season I've been mostly wearing Kjus Very Happy I'm pleased with it, it's been fine when cold, raining, snowing and hot. It's had more than a few days use and is holding up just great so far. I can't really fault it really, but it's not cheap.
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moosepig wrote:
I don't need spectacular thermal properties as I overheat when skiing as it is, and I'd definitely want those under-arm zippy things for cooling off. And pockets, I like pockets. Lots of them, preferably large. I'm not necessarily looking for something cheap either, just the best.

Thanks in advance for any pointers snowHead


If you overheat a jacket with liner is probably not the best thing for you. A shell is better because you have more flexibility over how much insulation you use (by increasing/decreasing layers). Plus it's easier to wash sweaty thermal layers than an insulated ski jaket.

I overheat too, normaly when backcountry touring etc. I've tried Goretex, Gorertex XCR, eVent, schoeller -dryskin extreme (have jackets made of each material). Come to the conclusion that no jacket is going to keep me dry all the time.

My choices are -

a) Windproof waterproof shell and the best breathability in it's class = eVent.
b) Not quite 100% windproof and waterproof but best breathability and drys extremely quick = schoeller -dryskin extreme

I use a) in extreme conditions and b) when the weather is better.

http://www.outdoorsmagic.com/news/article/mps/UAN/1879/SP/328697336888364953288/v/1

http://www.verber.com/mark/outdoors/gear/breathability.pdf

http://www.eventfabrics.com/indexSet.cfm
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For resort based skiing I like my (10 year old) Paramo. 100% (really) waterproof, and reproofable, and repairable (set light to it camping a couple of years ago)....and not too expensive.

For touring I'm with DB, I like a (very) light waterproof shell and then do lots of layers.

BTW do you wear a helmet - I find tha makes a difference to the heat thing too.
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Having endured this years monsoon season (January!) in Whistler - I'd say that Goretex XCR is definitely the best material for keeping dry. My main jacket is Arcteryx. It's pretty functional (not many pockets, all one colour, simple, etc) but works extremely well. Spyder looks great but seems overly complicated/expensive to me - lots of seams and only the critical ones taped so never going to be as waterproof as a simpler fully sealed one without losing breathability and being heavy. I also have DNA (Descente North America) shell which for the price (nearly half that of my Arcteryx one!) is pretty decent too, though not quite as well thought through and not as weatherproof.
I also prefer the layering idea rather than an insulated jacket (I have a Descente insulated jacket too which I hardly use because I find it too warm!)
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I like my Columbia Titanium Omnitech 'cos it has underarm pit vents in both the outer shell and in the fleece liner (and on really warm days you can remove the fleece) Loads of pockets and pouches and zip pulls that actually work. Removable hood. In Les Arcs in - 30C I was still quite cosy with just a base layer and the Columbia.
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kuwait_ian, Got the same jacket and it's done sterling work for four ski seasons and a lot of off season wear. Nothing's ever ripped or broken but it is wearing through where my pack straps rub. Still like the story of how you turned it duck crap green Very Happy
I've jet to find a system that regulates my temperature well enough, though I'm thinking about trying to find one of the jackes with inflatable liner for those long chair journeys.
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I nearly bought myself a £350 NorthFace Freethinker this year but the credit card was threatening to rebel anyway so decided to put it off for a year. Having had a number of padded jackets, I'm a relatively recent convert to the shell & indpendent thermal layers concept.

Whatever you go for has to fit well and allow a free range of movement - don't be afraid to wriggle around in it in the shop (you might look a bit of an idiot but better that than being stuck with a jacket that gets hung up around your shoulders everytime you reach forward). That said, I'm a fan of getting as close a fit as possible that does the job - there's a lower volume of air to keep warm and it's much more comfy under a backpack. Pit zips are also a must, ideally it will have a forearm pocket for lift passes/goggle wipes etc. Depending on how snug it sits and how it seals round the bum, a snow skirt may or may not be worthwhile.

Technology is basically driven by the budget - I've got an old Helly Tech shell that I picked up at their outlet in Bicester for 70 quid and it's never leaked. (well, it didn't until I ripped a hole in it at Twickenham...) A friend has skied for years in something similar and swears by it. Equally, a friend has a Goretex XCR monster that would keep out a small thermonuclear explosion and seems perfectly happy with that.

I guess Masque hit the nail on the head - how much do you want to spend?
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My main jacket is Killy. Technically superbly designed and crated but at a price. Jacket retails at just under £500, but I was lucky because of my size and got it half price at the end of the season.


Reserve jacket for late seaon warm weather stuff is a North Face Gore-tex. Retails at about £180, but you need a fleece zipped into it if there's a slightest chill. Fleece will only zip in if it's a North Face one - zips are only comatible with each other so other fleeces don't work.

What would I buy if I had to replace my jacket tomorrow? I wouldn't have to think twice; where's the Killy shop?? The new signature jacket this year was amazing, but it should be at £650 each.
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Hi folks,

Thanks for advice so far (and for PM, DB). It looks as though the shell/layers approach is the one for me; currently I use a jacket that was not specifically designed for skiing but comprises a removable fleece inner. Within 5 minutes of my first ever skiing on snow I'd removed the inner and consigned it to the backpack, and have never skied with the fleece in since! In fact I heat up so much when skiing that I've rarely used more than a single thermal layer under the shell.

Regarding budget, there's no fixed upper limit, it's just a question of finding something that suits me at a price that won't rupture the credit card I guess. starnberg's £350 wouldn't be too much for the right jacket.

As to style and taste, I don't have any! snowHead I don't want something that will have people taking photos of me to put on the Romper Suit section of their websites! Twisted Evil My current jacket is red with black shoulders, I guess I'd go for something similarly styled - dark blue or yellow or black aren't out of the question, but you'd be unlikely to catch me in something that contained anything dayglo, or white (silly colour to ski in if you want to be seen IMO), or lilac or lime green. I'd say that something of a neutral, inoffensive appearance would be the most preferable; I'm not an attention-seeker wink
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moosepig, Check out the snowShops....I bought a Keela Jacket through admin at an excellent price at the beginning of the season. It's taken me from -20 something to +20 something, through wind, snow and rain without problems. It's got oodles of pockets, underarm vents and a tuck away hood....great value and you'll contribute a little something to snowHeads to boot.

As for style...it's red with black shoulders....should be right up your street!!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
moosepig wrote:
Hi folks,
As to style and taste, I don't have any! snowHead I ....... want something that will have people taking photos of me to put on the Romper Suit section of their websites! Twisted Evil



This is just so you wink

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=62178&item=7153809492&rd=1#ebayphotohosting

or why not go for the "pan-cake" look ?

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=62178&item=7155043100&rd=1
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DB, spoo Blark! Laughing
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
homphomp, I think I'd have to ski in +20 degrees with no jacket at all! snowHead

Thanks for the pointer. I'd looked in showShops but your first hand review is very handy. I checked out the Munro jacket on another website, where it got a 10/10 review! I like the styling of these jackets a lot.

It does seem to have a fleecy-ish lining though; given that I was skiing in March in temperatures around freezing with just a shell and a t-shirt, I'd be a bit worried about overheating. Is it really that good at keeping you cool? I really do generate vast amounts of heat when I exercise even the slightest amount, and go the same colour as my current jacket.

In answer to an earlier question (from ski), no I don't wear a helmet - if I did, I'd go down with heatstroke (or its winter equivalent - snowStroke?) on the first run!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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moosepig, starnberg, has already mentioned the Helly outlet store at Bicester - well worth a visit if you are passing. I have collected a few different examples of jackets over the last few years, my latest being a HellyTech jacket from said store, full price retail £300 ish, I paid £120 or so. It has lots of pockets (5 outside, 2 inside), pit zips, good hood, powder skirt and mine is charcoal gray with discreet orange details - I'm told it looks very nice and it certainly has performed well for me this season. I think it was the previous years model, but I dont care about that. There are often lots of bargains there and its always worth a browse. A pair of Hellytech salopettes I bought about 5 years ago are still going strong and have easily outlasted a newer pair of North Face ones which got ripped fairly easily by one of my edges (NB ducktape superglued over the rip has lasted fairly well and has a certain ski-bum chic to it).

I also have a Lowe Alpine Ceramic jacket, which I can highly recommend for technical performance and value, but it only has 2 outside pockets and one inside which is not really enough for me.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Hi moosepig, the lining on the Munro isn't fleecy, it's just another thin, permeable layer: one of three (I think) that make up the whole waterproof / breathable effect. It is quite a light-weight jacket.

I got mine about 4 seasons ago and it's worked fine for me across a similar range of temps as Homp Homp has described. At the eosb last week I think we had about 23C at times so I was just wearing a thin base layer and the jacket. Obviously, I can't say I wasn't a little warm, but then, sporting activity at 20+ deg and you're going to be warm whatever u wear!
I have also done -20C in it comfortably with a base layer and a fleece.

It does have pit-zips and 5 pockets - L+R hip, L+R breast, L inner.
It is possible to fit a phone a video cam, suncream, Lunch, various paperwork, sunglasses, goggles and 6 snowHeads hats in them at the same time although it's not quite so light-weight then Wink

Please PM me if u need to know anything.
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Since a few people have mentioned them, can anyone tell me the point of a jacket with a zip-in fleece? You are then limited to the fleece that comes with the jacket (or others from the same brand). It really doesn't seem a great hardship to have to seperately zip up my Arcteryx/DNA jacket over my North Face windstopper or if I'm feeling a bit adventurous my Dainese core jacket, or if it's extra cold my mountain hardware fleece, etc, etc...
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stuarth, Not to mention all the faffing about getting the right zip onto the right zip other bit.
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Stuarth there's an argument that they're more convenient when you're in resort / travelling to and from resort but most advice I've read suggests you're best off skiing with them done up separately to get maximum freedom of movement. I've got a Columbia mid-level model (Omnitech I think, but certainly not their best stuff) that's got a zip in fleece and to be honest, it's all a bit of a faff (hence the itchy PIN finger near the freethinker earlier this season...) That said, it's a lot easier to get on and off if the sleeves are hooked together.

Moosepig I don't know whether you're a bloke or a lass and I'd never presume to guess at how large you might be, but at this point in the year you're probably stuck with the extremes of the size range if you're looking at dedicated ski gear. As Peter-B pointed out you can get some great deals if you happen to fit into what they've got left. Sadly I'm 6'2" and a 44" chest (and I'm a bloke before you all start... wink ) so there's rarely anything left that fits me...
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starnberg, Laughing Yes I'm a bloke, my real name is Ian Mr. Green Good point about time of year. I've no real idea what size chest I am, I usually just get XL stuff and it seems to be fine. However the jacket shell I currently use is definitely way too big without its fleece inner, so I'll need to go and examine it for its size and get something a bit smaller. When I bought it I'd never been skiing, and thought that I'd be wearing lots of layers under the jacket rather than the single layer I've ended up using.

I found the zip-in fleece a complete pain in the butt in terms of getting the jacket on and off when the sleeves were hooked together. I'd certainly never get another with that "feature".

U - PM coming your way snowHead
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Can't recommend Spyder highly enough, But on the expensive side. Bought one 3 years ago,(Monashess ?) its a 3-1 jacket with Zip out inner which can be worn on its own. Skied various conditions from -37 wind chill to +20 at easter, never got wet and always been very breathable. Plenty of pockets and gadgets ( clear covering on sleeve to see watch, and temperature gauge inside the inner !!).
Only downside is the price (£500+), but look around in the sales, you may be lucky, I paid around £300
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If you want a top jacket, it will be an XCR shell and probably be based on a climbing jacket with tapered cut, underarm vents and full helmet compatible hood. Expect to pay £300.00 plus for an Arcteryx or similar. I have a Eider which was made in France...please about that, and not made in the Pacific rim, and when I ripped it on rocks they completely changed the panel for about £30.00 inc post. Delighted with that as well as the performance. You would generally need a top class fleece/inner of around polartec 200 type insulation but if you overheat then you might have to experiment here

Names I would look at would be by companies which have a history of making climbing jackets which I think are so suitable for skiing, ie lightweight but weatherproof. I have got mine working just right and only suffer slightly on very warm days. I figure if they can handle the rigours of climbing, skiing should be well within its remit.

IMO look at Arcteryx, Eider, Mammut, poss' Mountain Harware. They may be a few others that the alpine countries produce that work very well but are not too well known here.
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Just to add my Goretex XCR Jacket is an Arcteryx jacket, cost over 400 quid at the time and it gets clamy fast. I don't have this problem with the eVent jacket I have. Goretex XCR is not the most breathable shell fabric (see my links to tests in previous posts within this thread). Just like a VHS video it isn't the best performing but is the most popular hence it's success.

If you run hot and your problems are more getting the sweat out than keeping the rain water out then IMHO there are better (and cheaper) alternatives to Goretex XCR.
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moosepig, Just one point that seems to have been missed ((and huge apologies if I'm about to drone on with an egg-sucking lesson...))

Before I do, I vote for Arc'teryx, Mountain Hardwear, Peak Performance and Mammut. I like Gore-Tex (but am now curious/interested in eVent). I don't really get clammy, but even if I did I'd probably go for XCR based on its waterproofness.

But, there's NO point in going for the best you can get, etc if you don't have or acquire a full layering system (apologies again if you already do). Wearing that old cotton t-shirt under favourite sweatshirt makes gore-tex and fleece et al pretty much (completely?) pointless. You might as well buy some nice yellow oilskins and be done with it wink

On the breathability front, Mountain Hardwear now do a fully taped Conduit softshell, and pants. I don't think it will stand for skiing all day in pouring rain (it might though?) as if you'd want to but it is probably very breathable and probably very comfortable to wear. Only mention as I am astounded by how performant my Arc'teryx softshell is (although not for the most severe cold weather) and reckon they're the way forward.

Hope that helps,

DM
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
moosepig, yep. Layering is the best way to go, it's just so flexable. But as DM says, you have to carry it through right down to yer boxers or there's no point.

I use a Shoffel goretex jacket with zip out fleece and a long sleeved mountainbiking base layer. I also use Peak Performance shell pants and use 3/4 length thermals under them on cold days.

I just bought them in the sales, black pants and black/dark green jacket, really muted non fashion colours so I can use them for years without looking a total berk.
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moosepig, Instead of a gore-tex shell / fleece combo, another way to go might be to have a look at Paramo's range of jackets and smocks. I used to ski in a goretex jacket and fleece and always ended up with a cold clammy back (especially when carrying a rucksack). Been skiing now for 3 years in a Paramo jacket and have had no problems with overheating even in Alpe D'huez this April.
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starnberg, I'm 6ft 2 and 46 chest, but still got my jacket from the Snow and Rock website without any problem. Half price at £215 two years ago.

moosepig, There's still a few bargains left on there this year if you're prepared to trawl.
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We've been around this before and there are more breathable fabrics than Goretex, Event is one and polyycotton is another. There are probably others and for pure breathabilty they outperform XCR. You will have to see what is most important to you as they will not be as waterproof. There are fans of one or another probably down to that users experience over the years.
For me the best I have found is an XCR shell, polartec200 Fleece and microfleece base and I am toast. On a very warm day you might want to think about a very breathable shell at the expense of the Goretex XCR weatherproof capabilites. You are then getting into the realms of the clothing that is horses for corses and if it that importatant to you, you will do so. But for most XCR does it all well and you would only need the one shell with a layer system.

Mover sounds like something you would like... uber kool....!!

Notice nobody has mentioned North Face...!!!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
moosepig,
I've had a variety of jackets in different breathable fabrics - Hy vent, triple point ceramic, H2No, Event, as well as Goretex. I think you may need to find the fabric that suits your metabolism to some extent - if you sweat alot you are going to need something as breathable as possible. Hy Vent (North Face) and goretex are the ones I like most.

I read somewhere (poss on Snowheads but I'm not sure) that if you are sweating in very cold weather, the sweat can freeze in the outside of the membrane and block it, thus preventing any degree of breathability. I've no idea if that is true or not, but thought I'd chuck it in for what its worth.

I've got a Mountain Hardwear climbing jacket in Goretex, and have worn it in pouring rain and driving snow quite comfortably. It has a zip out snow skirt and 4 good size pockets (plus a couple of inside pockets). The one thing I did want on it that it hasn't got is a pocket on the sleeve which is dead handy for bits and pieces that you cant always get to if you have a rucksack with waist belt on for example.

I also like to get a jacket that I can wear walking/hiking etc so it doesn't spend most of the year sat in the cupboard unused.

Enjoy your shopping Very Happy
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One of the issues I've encountered is that, with some labels, the top of the range is a very, very different product than the bottom, or middle really. At some point or other I've noticed this in Helly Hansen, TNF, and Columbia among others.

With those I will only look for the very top they have to offer.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I've had a Berghaus mountaineering goretex for the past 10-12 yrs - still ok but the face fabric is soaking up the water even after reproofing. I need a jacket for a wide range of uses, so articulation is of utmost importance. Arc'teryx seem to have a very good reputaion, but I think that my next jacket might well be a Paramo - maybe the smock rather than zip front as ruckstrap straps usually close the fronts anyhow. I've been in storms where ice layers formed between fleece/duvet/goretex boundaries - this was in freezing wet snow conditions where very high winds led to ice sheet formation blocking a lot of the goretex's breathability.
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Breathable material/ zip vent fans: Do you find a zip-vent behind the shoulders remotely useful? I've had mine open at -20C and I didn't know that it was, not sure it's effective enough to justify its presence.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Another link with a few crazy jacket tests .....

http://slate.msn.com/id/2085417/

..... as far as I am aware Goretex is no better at waterproofing than eVent or many other fabrics.

http://www.prolitegear.com/cgi-bin/prolitegear/xdpy/kb/00029/


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Wed 11-05-05 8:15; edited 1 time in total
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moosepig, if you overheat in a standard outer shell, have you thought about a softshell outer, and just using a really thin waterproof for when it's pi$$ing down? I have a Mountain Equipment K2 jacket which I use in the really cold weather, but for normal conditions (including fairly heavy snow) I use just a thermal base layer (an LG Polartec100 from Field and Trek which is probably the best £30 I've ever spent) and a windproof fleece. I have a thickish very basic (although very water-repellent) one by Wynnster (about £50) which I used to use for just about everything but was rather deficient in the pocket department, but this year got a Mountain Equipment Windstopper (about £100), and that did me fine even for dawn starts at 3000m this year! Not too hot and lets the steam out far faster than any waterproof jacket will. This has two absolutely huge outer pockets (stretch from clavicle to waist) and one internal pocket nearly the same size. As I have used the outer jacket on the pushbike for about 150 days a year for about 5 years it's starting to suffer, so I may end up getting just a thin outer layer to go with either of the fleeces - maybe something like the Lowe TriplePoint that one guide I was with this year was using.
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moosepig, Admin's answered your question about the fleecy lining....it really is just part of the jacket. In April we were in Tignes and we were going from freezing up on the glacier to roasting down in the valleys on the same run!! I was never cold....but I can't say that I didn't get a touch warm at the very bottom but never uncomfortbly so - couldn't leave the fleece mid layer off or I'd have frozen up top and I was still pretty comfortable at all times. Keela jackets are excellent value....go and check one out in the shops - Admin tracked down a local stockist for me, I'm sure he could do the same for you.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I naively took my Oakley jacket skiing this April, as my thick Columbia jacket was going to be too warm. It was dreadful, like skiing with a bin liner on, so it never went out after the first day.

I skied in my soft fleece and stayed dry & warm despite one half day of snow and a full day of snow! It was this one, which was around £99 last year.

http://www.mountain-equipment.co.uk/fleeces/windstopper.html#guidejacket

I ended up buying a Marmot shell in the EOS sales in Courcheval, mainly because the fleece didn't have enough pockets and I doubt it would keep me dry in rain/wet snow.

cheers

greg
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
I use a Goretex XCR shell by Sprayway which I picked up at an outlet store for £120. It's designed for winter sports in general so it has a couple of very uselful large pockets on the front designed to hold maps. It has a very good hood and a close fit. As it's a shell, I can wear it all year round as a general weatherproof jacket. I too get pretty hot but with a decent base/mid layer, I was never unbearably hot, even over Easter
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
M80euf, I've heard from somewhere or other that the Helly Hansen shop in Bicester Village has closed down recently, although I haven't been there for a few weeks. Do you know if this is true?
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