OUT­ER­WEAR

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When it comes to jack­ets and pants, there is plenty on of­fer as you hit your aver­age ski shop th­ese days. You want your out­er­wear to be com­fort­able and keep you warm and dry so you get out on the moun­tain in all con­di­tions. For­tu­nately, tech­ni­cal ad­vances over the past decade mean that out­er­wear that does per­form in all con­di­tions is eas­ily at­tain­able, and for a va­ri­ety of bud­gets.

Out­er­wear with higher rat­ings is now more af­ford­able and a 10,000mm jacket would have been around $400 five years ago, you can now pick one from a rep­utable tech­ni­cal brand for $250.

Wa­ter­proof and breatha­bil­ity rat­ings are the two im­por­tant fac­tors you should con­sider when pur­chas­ing your gear and the rule of thumb is the higher the rat­ing the more ex­pen­sive the out­er­wear.

Wa­ter­proof tests are pretty well stan­dard across the in­dus­try and the rat­ings are a good in­di­ca­tion of one fab­ric com­pared to an­other. The tests in­volve plac­ing tubes of wa­ter above fab­rics; the height of the wa­ter on the tube when leak­ing be­gins is the wa­ter­proof rat­ing – which is why the mea­sure­ment is in mil­lime­tres. In real world terms here’s what those mea­sure­ments equate to:

– 15,000-30,000mm fab­ric should be to­tally rain proof, be able to with­stand pro­longed pres­sure against damp sur­faces – such as sit­ting on a wet chair­lift.

– Fab­rics 5,000-15,000mm should keep out the rain com­pletely, and not do too badly keep­ing your butt dry on the chair­lift.

Breatha­bil­ity rat­ings are a mea­sure of how much mois­ture can es­cape through a fab­ric when you sweat, and are usu­ally in­di­cated in terms of how many grams of mois­ture can pass through a square me­tre of fab­ric in a 24 hour pe­riod. The higher the num­ber, the more breath­able the fab­ric.

Of course there are plenty of other tech fea­tures that re­sult in dif­fer­ent costs in jack­ets. Be­sides a wa­ter­proof and breatha­bil­ity rat­ing of 10,000mm and above, you want to be look­ing for the fol­low­ing fea­tures:

– Laser-cut seams and fully seam-sealed con­struc­tion, help keep out the el­e­ments.

– Wa­ter­proof zips – again, keep­ing out the wind and rain.

– Multi-way stretch fab­rics that im­prove com­fort and al­low move­ment.

When you check out the jack­ets and pants in most stores, you’ll no­tice that the lighter weight shells are usu­ally more ex­pen­sive than the heav­ier, in­su­lated gar­ments. This is be­cause they not only have higher wa­ter­proof and breatha­bil­ity rat­ings, but they are wind-proof and of­ten made of two or four-way stretch ma­te­rial.

This “per­for­mance” gear is the best stuff to ski in and, if you’re a keen skier who is out there a lot in all con­di­tions, is what you want. The trend here is to layer up with a thin nat­u­ral fi­bre base-layer and lightweight mid-layer like a mi­cro fleece un­der your shell.

If you’re a fair weather type, or only get to ski a few days a year, then the mid-range gear will do the job and do it for quite a few years.

Of course, the big­gest fac­tor when you come to buy new out­wear is how you look and how you feel when you check your­self out in the store’s mir­ror. For­tu­nately, all the good tech­ni­cal brands also pay a lot of at­ten­tion to fash­ion as well as func­tion.

The days of hav­ing to wear some­thing that looks like it’s made out of a can­vas tent if you want stay dry are long gone. There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent styles and colours avail­able, just make sure you have the right beanie to com­plete the look.

Ol­lie Cain in the lat­est gear from Pic­ture. Bot­tom row (left to right) The North Face, Fuse Form Bri­g­an­dine 3L jacket, Rip Curl, Men’s Ul­ti­mate Gum Jkt Patag­o­nia women’s 3 in 1 Snow­belle Jkt

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