A versatile jacket for frigid tours, spring skiing | AspenTimes.com

A versatile jacket for frigid tours, spring skiing

I liked my Outdoor Research ski jacket after using it for alpine skiing a few times; I loved it after taking it on a backcountry trip.

Being somewhat of a Neanderthal, I’ve never had a jacket with this many high-tech features. The hood is compatible with a helmet and it can be easily zipped off and stashed. There is a zip-off powder skirt and enough zippers to keep every part of your upper anatomy cool.

Most surprising is how something so light can provide so much protection. The men’s Motto Jacket is a soft shell that doesn’t seem capable of providing warmth and protection from extreme elements. I put it the test Sunday, Feb. 17, on a ski tour up Woody and Spruce creeks. Our group departed on a chilly morning with light snow falling. We covered 4,000 vertical feet in eight miles. The snow and the strain typically make dialing in the clothing a challenge. You have to stay covered to remain dry, but you didn’t want a lot of clothing to make you sweat.

The Motto was just the ticket. The Ventia soft-shell fabric is hydrophobic ” shedding snow quicker than crews shoveling powder-threatened roofs in Aspen this winter. Yet, I never felt uncomfortable, let alone overheated, while skinning through gentle grades of meadows and steep pitches in dark timber.

The real test came when we reached timberline. We had roughly a half-mile and 500 vertical feet to go to reach the summit of an unnamed 12,200-foot ridge. A squall moved in as we undertook the final ascent. Before long we were in a foggy whiteout with 40 mph winds whipping the snow nearly horizontal. By that time I had added a vest underneath the Motto along with a long-sleeved underwear shirt and short-sleeved wicking T-shirt, so my upper torso was warm. The jacket shields against wind as well as it does against snow.

After a quick retreat from the summit, the Motto’s versatility paid off because I stayed cool enough on the entire descent without stripping a layer.

Outdoor Research describes the Motto as a “descent-inspired soft shell that offers maximum weather protection on cold ski days.”

I’m not quite as sold on the jacket for lift-served skiing as I am for touring and skinning. We’ve had longer, sustained periods of frigid temperatures this year. On some of the coldest days that I have skied, the Motto didn’t keep me quite warm enough. I needed more layers than I typically wear with either my Obermeyer or North Face jackets, and I never seemed to dial in what I needed for layers with the Motto.

However, the Motto is the jacket for me for tough ski tours and for weekly skinning trips up Tiehack. I think it also will be great for spring skiing. It’s light enough and compatible enough to throw in my pack for the downhill plunge.

I’ve tested Outdoor Research’s Credo Pants the last couple of months as well. The soft-shell ski pants passed all tests in all uses. They are lightweight yet weather-resistant and breathable. They defied my expectations by providing flexibility and the right balance of warmth without being too hot for skinning up peaks.

They have a fleece interior for comfort and warmth, and convenient ankle zippers to fit snugly over boots. My only complaint was the large pant seems designed for a porker. I usually wear a 32-by-36 pant, so I need length, but the waist on Credo is way too large. Luckily, it has lots of sturdy belt loops.

The Outdoor Research Credo Pants can currently be found online at http://www.altrec.com for $149.95 while the Motto Jacket is sold at that same website for $249.95.


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