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Thread: Jackets

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    New York

    Question Jackets

    I'd like to get a new outer jacket, I see many choices from many different companies. And, each company has jackets in every price range. Aside from just choosing the jacket that is affordable and looks cool, how can I distinguish between them? What qualities or materials should I be looking for? Thanks folks!


  2. #2
    Gimpy NoKnees's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Northern California
    This is a tough call. I like jackets, and own more than I really need. But that fact does not make me a good source for info...

    Anyway, all jackets are definitely not created equal, and not any jacket can do all things. So you have to figure out what your priorities, and balance your choices based on those.

    Key areas to think about are:

    - Waterproof/resistence
    - Breathability
    - Windproof/resistence
    - Weight
    - Insulation
    - Features

    In order to properly prioritize the above, you need to figure out how and where you plan on using the jacket. If it's mostly skiing/boarding in cold temps, water resistence and breathability is a better than waterproof and less breathable. The other tradeoff for breathability, but not as much, is fully windproof vs highly windresistent. Having said that, features like vents can definitely make up for breathability in the material, but you are opening yourself up to less protection from the eliments and more weight with the added zippers, extra seams, etc..

    There are basically two kinds of jackets these days... Hard and soft shells. Hard will 99% of the time will give you a better waterproof "protective" layer. Gore-tex XCR is the best material here, and for best proofing and breathability you want it 3-layer. 2-layer is okay.

    Soft Shells are often looked at as the new "in thing" but they've been around forever, just not hyped liked they are now. The offer a fair to near waterproof protection with much better breathability, and they often stretch and allow for better movement. In constant rain they will "wet-out", but in snow and light rain this will not happen. They offer tend to allow more wind through than a hard shell, but some are now offered as windproof with an extra lining thrown in. Schoeller Dynamic, Dryskin, etc, are the main fabrics used here, with each company having it's own variant. Personally I like what's offered here by Arc'Teryx in their Gamma jackets, and Patagonia in some of their stretch jackets.

    I have a Patagonia soft shell I picked up two years ago that I wear with just a thin t-shirt in temps from 10-50f comfortably when boarding... Bellow 10, I just toss on a thermal long sleep undershirt and I'm good for another 10 degrees... Bellow 20 and in winds above 50mph, I can barely feel a litte bit of air movement. Anything less than that, it seems windproof. Oh, and I grabbed the jacket for less than $150 on sale.. A great option is REI's "One" jacket, and I believe for those up in Canada EMS makes some nice ones as well..

    Damn this turned into a long post...

    hard shell = better waterproof & windproof, heavier, look for Gore-Tex XCR 3-ply, Conduit, cheaper options columbia tech "titanium" line. Must have vents or you will be dripping from the inside.
    soft shell = usually lighter, breathable, vents not needed, not quite water proof, not usually 100% wind resitent, more comfortable, same or less weight. Schoeller Fabrics, REI "One", Arc'Teryx "Gamma" line, Patagonia, Cloudveil, Mountain Hardware, etc.. EMS offers good bang for the buck as well...

  3. #3
    Wave-Maker / Pot-Stirrer
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Boise, Idaho

    NoKnees Knows...

    I can only add one thing to all the good info Greg added. That is to maybe go with some kind of component jacket. This allows you to have two jackets in one. A light jacket for warmer temps, and a jacket\liner combo for colder. Unless your snow area is normally below zero, this might be a good option for you. Another brand to add to the list is Spyder. Their 5 mm and 10 mm densities work well in most terrains. I've worn their Black Widow and Recluse line jackets and have found them to be far better than Columbia or Marker, which I feel are two of the best low cost\great value outerwear companies. But to find a good jacket, you must know what kind of weather your normal boarding area gets and buy accordingly. Most good board shops know the area and can tell you what densities people normally wear there. They are usually the best source of info for these kinds of things. But I would suggest going to all of the shops first, before you buy. This way you can kind of make up your own mind based on what is commonly said. I've had several friends that were talked into buying stuff that they really didn't need to buy. All because the salesperson told them that that is what they wear. So look around first, then purchase with knowlege.

    "Beware the good assumptions in life, the light at the end of the tunnel is probably an oncoming train!!"

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