Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

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Mister A
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Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Mister A » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:35 am

I'm going to spend a week exploring in the Canadian Rockies next month and (attempt to) learn to ski, and need to purchase a good set of outerwear. Since I live in the colder parts of New York and want to spend more winter time outdoors here as well, I'm thinking it's a good opportunity to purchase something tougher for all-around use.

Does anyone have opinions on the craftsmanship and guarantees on these brands? I really like the Arc'Teryx products that I'm seeing but have no reference point for whether they're worth the price, and although they're supposed to be among the "best", some angry threads about their customer service when things fail. Adventure Journal lists only Patagonia as having a true lifetime warranty, although I haven't dug deep on that yet.

All opinions welcome.
Last edited by Mister A on Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Glockenspiel
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Glockenspiel » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:39 am

You will not be disappointed with Patagonia. Great company mindset, great customer service, great products.

goodlifer
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by goodlifer » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:00 am

I just returned a North Face coat that I bought online for my daughter. I was shocked at how bad it was. Every zipper snagged because the fabric inside was so loose, and there were spots where there was no down at all. The hood was clearly for show and not designed to be used. Plus, I had to pay to return it to Backcountry.com, so now I'm ticked off at both companies. We tried Columbia a few days ago. The coats were better, but the gloves were sewn so that my daughter couldn't move her fingers well.

I passed on Arc'Teryx because they should have a better return policy considering their price range. I didn't even bother having my daughter try on their coats, but nothing my husband tried on fit him. He is pretty average at 5'11 and 160lbs, but the shoulders were too narrow.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by stoptothink » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:06 am

No personal experience but my right-hand man at work bought one of the top end Arc'Teryx snowboard jackets on a black Friday deal for like $600, and then returned it a week later. Said it wasn't any better than his older jacket which costed less than 1/4 as much.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by sjt » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:16 am

With North Face I think you're going to see a huge range in quality. They make a lot of relatively cheap and basic fleeces for your 'suburban family' types, but I think they have some high performance gear too for extreme weather conditions. Even with the higher priced brands, you will have great rated jackets and duds. Reading reviews at REI is a great start.

Find something with good ratings and (more importantly) good fit for your body, and you can't go wrong. Don't be afraid to spend more because this stuff should last you 15-20+ years if you take care of it. Remember to layer and don't skip good baselayers (I like smartwool).
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SmallSaver
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by SmallSaver » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:29 am

This stuff can be absurdly expensive. If you're just starting to ski, I'd follow the approach of buying something inexpensive, then if you wear it out get the high end. That said, it does need to be basically acceptable or you'll be miserable. You don't need top of the line, but I would recommend a real outdoor brand: Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, and Outdoor Research all make good stuff that doesn't need to be $700 for a pair of pants. Columbia and North Face do way more casual wear, and you'll need to be a little more careful with them. Buy from REI and if it doesn't work for you you can return it no questions asked.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Peculiar_Investor » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:31 am

I've had outdoor clothing from each of those brands. Like most things, you get what you pay for, so if you purchase the low-end versions of their gear then you could be setting yourself up for disappointment.

One advantage in Alberta and the Canadian Rockies is it amount of sunshine we get and the lack of humidity, i.e. a "dry cold". I'm originally from Toronto and have called Calgary home for over a decade. I know "dry cold" is considered a myth but I still don't feel the winter cold here nearly as much as in Toronto, or Montreal, or NYC for that matter.

Back the the clothing brand question, my personal order of preference would be: Arc'Teryx (although pricey), The North Face or Patagonia, and bringing up the rear Columbia. Most of my outdoor gear these days is The North Face and their gear is generally my starting point when I'm looking for something new.
sjt wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:16 am
Find something with good ratings and (more importantly) good fit for your body, and you can't go wrong. Don't be afraid to spend more because this stuff should last you 15-20+ years if you take care of it. Remember to layer and don't skip good baselayers (I like smartwool).
Totally agree. Out here layers are an absolute must.
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onourway
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by onourway » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:33 am

While high-end stuff from Patagonia, Norrona, and so on is demonstrably better for real ski/outdoor use, it's likely not noticeably better for someone just starting out where you will have a lot of other things to keep you busy as you learn to ski. You want it to be good enough, not great. Further, truly dedicated skiwear has a lot of features that are simply in the way when using it as normal outerwear (powder skirts, sleeve liners to fit inside gloves, hood designed to fit a helmet not a head, and so on.)

I would shop for something from a recognizable name that fits well and is reasonably priced. I wouldn't worry too much about the brand.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by UALflyer » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:46 am

Higher end technical skiwear won't necessarily be better for everyday use, although it'll be more stylish.

With higher end technical skiwear, what you get are things like complete waterproofing of all seams, as opposed to just the critical seams being waterproofed on the cheaper models. Likewise, higher end technical skiwear may integrate powder skirts (a stretchable waterproof part on the inside of your jacket above the hem, which, when used, minimizes the amount of powder that gets into the jacket from the bottom up. This tends to only be needed for deep powder, which, as a beginner, you won't be skiing for a while). Likewise, higher end jackets tend to add special rings or chest/shoulder pocket for a ski ticket (a ring is used for the old style ski ticket still used by a ton of resorts; a special pocket is used for the RF tickets/passes -- if the place uses machine RF readers, it helps if the pocket is on your arm or shoulder), more flexible fabric, which helps more advanced skiers (doesn't really make a difference for beginners), shoulder pads, which prevent skis from cutting your jacket when you carry them on your shoulder, use completely windproof fabric (beginner skiers won't encounter the same wind, as you'll be at the bottom of the mountain), zipper covers to prevent them from freezing, more strategically placed vents, avalanche beacons, sleeve liners, etc... A beginner skier won't appreciate the vast majority of these features, and, if you just use the jacket for everyday wear, the features won't really do anything for you.

In short, as a beginner skier, I wouldn't spend money on more advanced technical ski clothing. As an aside, right now is an extremely expensive time to be buying skiwear as well. If you want to save money on high end skiwear, you need to wait until the ski seasons starts to near the end, which is also the time that all the places will start to dramatically cut their pricing.
Last edited by UALflyer on Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by livesoft » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:50 am

I'd check thrift stores near you. I spend a lot of time in the outdoors in all seasons and I can safely write that I am not brand loyal. Lots of brands are really good and no one single brand stands out to me. Even "house" brands at half the cost work well. More important is probably fit and layering.

For gloves, I prefer glo-mitts with an added water-proof shell. One can use chemical handwarmers inside the mitten part.

A great pair of sunglasses is a must.

And I think you should buy a piece of clothing in Canada when you get there, too, no matter what the cost. It will then have sentimental value and remind you of your ski trip whenever you wear it back in NY.
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by FireSekr » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:58 am

Glockenspiel wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:39 am
You will not be disappointed with Patagonia. Great company mindset, great customer service, great products.
Patagucci is the laughing stock of the outdoor community. It’s widely regarded as decent but overpriced and more geared towards suburban hipsters than serious outdoors people. Most of the serious hikers and skiers I know say Outdoor Research has all the performance and quality of Patagugcci at a fraction of the cost.

I say this as an owner of a patagucci down jacket that I wear nearly every time I ski and it’s been excellent. I got it off season for 60% off otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. But that doesn’t stop the jokes from my more serious outdoor friends.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by onourway » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:00 am

ssquared87 wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:58 am
Glockenspiel wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:39 am
You will not be disappointed with Patagonia. Great company mindset, great customer service, great products.
Patagucci is the laughing stock of the outdoor community. It’s widely regarded as decent but overpriced and more geared towards suburban hipsters than serious outdoors people. Most of the serious hikers and skiers I know say Outdoor Research has all the performance and quality of Patagugcci at a fraction of the cost.

I say this as an owner of a patagucci down jacket that I wear nearly every time I ski and it’s been excellent. I got it off season for 60% off otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. But that doesn’t stop the jokes from my more serious outdoor friends.
I'd say that speaks more to your particular circle than any widespread opinion. In my circles which have spanned both coasts over the years Patagonia is liked well enough and certainly among the more common brands used. Frankly we don't talk about equipment all that much.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by dsmclone » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:02 am

On a side note, you mentioned that you were trying to ski for the first time. I'd highly recommend taking a couple hour beginners lesson. I've been around a lot of people who haven't and spent 2 days learning what they could have learned in one hour of ski school.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by SagaciousTraveler » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:06 am

I like Helly Hansen for both sailing and skiing.

I understand they are pricey, but just like anything, you can find deals.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by livesoft » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:07 am

^Actually, a week of morning ski lessons with on-your-own in the afternoons is not a bad way to progress quickly.
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:12 am

If you weren't a beginner I would say go for the good stuff. But since you don't know if you'll be sticking with it, go with the cheaper NF or Columbia gear.

Arcteryx is amazing quality and it feels almost tailored for endurance athletic bodies (as it should). I have an arcteryx gortex paclite shell that I primarily use for backcountry skiing and its survived about 8 or 9 seasons, ~15 days a year, in great shape, same for my wife's. There is a little bit of cosmetic delamination of the hood brim and the little zipper "garages" on the chest pockets are slightly abraded. Lightweight shells are not meant to be daily drivers if you want them to last a long time. I wear an Arcteryx soft shell probably 200 days a year and get about 4-5 years out of them before they wear out.

I've had to send my soft shell into Arcteryx for repair of the bottom drawstring sleeve and it took about 6 weeks to get it back fully repaired for free since they have a retail store in my city that shipped it for free. I think you'd have to pay shipping otherwise. I got multiple email updates on the progress of the jacket going through the system along with a phone call from the actual person doing the repair in Vancouver I think.

Last time I checked Outdoor Reasearch is probably the best value, great gear at a mid level price and great customer service.

With any jacket be sure to check how much the jacket lifts up when you lift your arm. I know Arcteryx jackets are patterned to minimize this, not sure about others.
Last edited by barnaclebob on Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:24 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by mak1277 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:14 am

ssquared87 wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:58 am
Glockenspiel wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:39 am
You will not be disappointed with Patagonia. Great company mindset, great customer service, great products.
Patagucci is the laughing stock of the outdoor community. It’s widely regarded as decent but overpriced and more geared towards suburban hipsters than serious outdoors people. Most of the serious hikers and skiers I know say Outdoor Research has all the performance and quality of Patagugcci at a fraction of the cost.

I say this as an owner of a patagucci down jacket that I wear nearly every time I ski and it’s been excellent. I got it off season for 60% off otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. But that doesn’t stop the jokes from my more serious outdoor friends.
I recently watched Free Solo and it looked like a Patagonia ad. Now it's possible that some/all of the people in the movie are sponsored (I genuinely don't know), but I'd say that Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, Tommy Caldwell, etc. qualify as "serious outdoors people".

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by btenny » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:27 am

I prefer Spyder brand of coats and ski wear. They offer good value versus quality. You can usually find some nice jackets and pants on sale at a ski store near you. Expect to pay $300 or more for a jacket (with removable fleece liner) and $150 for pants of OK quality. Good to very good quality stuff will cost more. Ski jackets and pants are slightly different styles than snow board jackets and pants. Look at the various items at the store to note the differences. Also look at the various items and you will note the quality differences. Good stuff will have lots of zippers and zipper covers to allow the jacket or pants to be opened up and breath during hard work. They will also have inside pockets and outside pockets all with zippers. Good stuff will have high quality water and wind proof fabric and great stitch work. The pants and jacket should be loose fitted to allow easy movement. Talk to a good clerk at a ski special store near you for advice. They will know what are good deals and good stuff.

Also buy a good pair of thermal long johns, a wicking long sleeve under layer top, a good hat and ski gloves. If you have cold hands try some ski mittens. Make sure you get the good stuff here as these items will keep you warm as much as the ski jacket. These items will run another $300 or so for a full set.

Patagonia brand is always good stuff but expensive and not carried at a lot of stores. I find Columbia stuff is mostly cheap junk. Most stores carry other brands as well. TBD if they are good or cheap.

Good Luck.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by EddyB » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:31 am

ssquared87 wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:58 am
Glockenspiel wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:39 am
You will not be disappointed with Patagonia. Great company mindset, great customer service, great products.
Patagucci is the laughing stock of the outdoor community. It’s widely regarded as decent but overpriced and more geared towards suburban hipsters than serious outdoors people. Most of the serious hikers and skiers I know say Outdoor Research has all the performance and quality of Patagugcci at a fraction of the cost.

I say this as an owner of a patagucci down jacket that I wear nearly every time I ski and it’s been excellent. I got it off season for 60% off otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. But that doesn’t stop the jokes from my more serious outdoor friends.
I’m not sure what “the outdoor community” is, but I live in an area well known for its outdoor pursuits, and know a lot of people who are avid backcountry skiers, climbers, mountaineers, hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers—people who really use their gear. Patagonia has certainly had a lot of success selling their gear to people who are using it casually, but that doesn’t seem to have knocked them out of their place with users who ask more of their outdoors clothing. I recall the comments you’re describing when I was in my 20s (15 or nearly 20 years ago), among self-described “dirtbag” climbers and skiers, but I don’t hear them (other than jokingly) among my peers now (people who enjoy these activities and also tend to have the resources to use quality gear).

Whole OR has some very smart products, and seems more willing than Patagonia or Arc’teryx to use more “progressive” materials (e.g., more breathable membranes than Gore-Tex options), their quality is not, in my opinion, as consistently high as the other two. I would also say OR’s advantages are in more “niche” products than I’d first recommend for a new skier as the basics.

That said, I think Patagonia and Arc’teryx products are typically overkill for a new skier or other casual user. North Face seems to make a broad range of quality and price point products. The fit of much of their clothing that I’ve tried is not ideal for me, so I don’t have any real experience.

Columbia is a much lower price point, with much lower quality, but entirely appropriate for someone who may do 15 days of resort skiing in a year. The differences in weight, durability and performance are real, but will rarely matter for most use. They’ll probably be vastly better than what early polar explorers used.

Ssquared, if the “outdoors community” is laughing at you, it might be because you’re skiing in a down jacket. :-)

I think it’s regrettable that self-appointed “community” representatives (from whatever interest one might be developing) can be so unwelcoming.

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Mister A
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Mister A » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:40 am

Thanks so much for the replies.
UALflyer wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:46 am
Higher end technical skiwear won't necessarily be better for everyday use, although it'll be more stylish.
This is absolutely right, and maybe something I should have been clearer about. Technical skiwear isn't really what I'm looking for, but rather an insulated, waterproof, hooded winter jacket that is appropriate for skiing, but also some hiking and outdoor work. (Reasonably stylish is a plus.) The cold snap that followed Winter Storm Harper the other day, with -30 F windchills, really drove the point home that it's a wise investment, especially since we'd like to do more winter activities locally.

I'm leaning toward a 3-in-1 jacket so that I can also get some separate mileage out of the shell for cold, rainy conditions, which also come up quite a bit. Still researching, but right now, Columbia's Wild Card Interchange is looking like the cheap option, with Patagonia's Snowshot as a higher-end consideration.

https://www.backcountry.com/columbia-wi ... acket-mens
https://www.backcountry.com/patagonia-3 ... acket-mens
dsmclone wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:02 am
On a side note, you mentioned that you were trying to ski for the first time. I'd highly recommend taking a couple hour beginners lesson. I've been around a lot of people who haven't and spent 2 days learning what they could have learned in one hour of ski school.
Yep, this is exactly what we're doing.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by onourway » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:44 am

I don't personally place any value on 3-in-1 jackets where the liner fits the shell. I prefer separates. The extra zipper on the shell just makes the shell bulky when you are using it on its own, and I don't find any difference in fit between an integrated system and a shell over my mid-layer of choice.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by livesoft » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:45 am

btenny wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:27 am
Also buy a good pair of thermal long johns, a wicking long sleeve under layer top, a good hat and ski gloves. If you have cold hands try some ski mittens. Make sure you get the good stuff here as these items will keep you warm as much as the ski jacket. These items will run another $300 or so for a full set.
Yes, your base layer is important. "thermal long johns" sounds like underwear, so I wanted to comment that it doesn't have to be underwear, but could be outerwear worn under everything else. For instance, I use tights for my legs under my outer shell in the winter, but without the outer shell when it is warmer or drier. Same for a wicking long-sleeve under layer top. My point is that one might try to find multi-purpose multi-season clothing that can be used more often than just on a ski trip to the Canadian Rockies. These items might run $100 for the full set.
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by UALflyer » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:49 am

btenny wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:27 am
I prefer Spyder brand of coats and ski wear.
I absolutely love Spyder and have a lot of their products. It used to be an almost exclusively high end brand that made some of the best technical skiwear on the market. Over the last few years, however, just like most other high end skiwear manufacturers, they've expanded their product lines and now have mid quality and budget lines as well (although, lately, they've started moving away from the budget lines).
onourway wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:44 am
I don't personally place any value on 3-in-1 jackets where the liner fits the shell. I prefer separates. The extra zipper on the shell just makes the shell bulky when you are using it on its own, and I don't find any difference in fit between an integrated system and a shell over my mid-layer of choice.
I 100% agree.
Mister A wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:40 am
Technical skiwear isn't really what I'm looking for, but rather an insulated, waterproof, hooded winter jacket that is appropriate for skiing, but also some hiking and outdoor work. (Reasonably stylish is a plus.) The cold snap that followed Winter Storm Harper the other day, with -30 F windchills, really drove the point home that it's a wise investment, especially since we'd like to do more winter activities locally.

I'm leaning toward a 3-in-1 jacket so that I can also get some separate mileage out of the shell for cold, rainy conditions, which also come up quite a bit. Still researching, but right now, Columbia's Wild Card Interchange is looking like the cheap option, with Patagonia's Snowshot as a higher-end consideration.

https://www.backcountry.com/columbia-wi ... acket-mens
https://www.backcountry.com/patagonia-3 ... acket-mens
As a beginner skier, this is all fine, but neither is a true ski jacket, so keep your expectations low.

If you just use something for everyday wear, keeping yourself warm is actually easy and inexpensive. When you ski, you sweat, which presents a very different challenge for skiwear manufacturers. If your body heat is not vented out, you'll sweat more, which will make you more dehydrated and tired, will cause everything that you wear to become wet and will then make you cold and uncomfortable. Likewise, excessive body heat will cause your goggles to fog up, which will make it hard for you to see.

Beginner skiers don't have the technique to ski efficiently, so they already tend to use excess energy that produces additional body heat. They also fall a lot, and getting up from a fall also uses up a lot of energy, and results in them generating additional body heat. They don't know how to dress, so they tend to wear a lot of cotton (cotton absorbs moisture, which makes you cold) and too much poorly vented clothing. So, the most common scene with beginner skiers isn't one where they're cold and shivering. Instead, the most common scene is beginner skiers overheating and walking around drenched in sweat (although their feet and hands may still be freezing, which is an entirely different issue).

The above jackets will only exacerbate this problem.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by SmallSaver » Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:59 am

As others have pointed out, there's no real reason to get a 3-in-1, but you absolutely need to be able to layer. I'd recommend a good long-sleeve base layer (modern wool is nice), a puffy coat to insulate (e.g. patagonia nanopuff or micropuff), and a relatively thin shell that will fit over everything. That'll cover you for just about anything. Flexibility is key.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by EddyB » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:08 pm

SmallSaver wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:59 am
As others have pointed out, there's no real reason to get a 3-in-1, but you absolutely need to be able to layer. I'd recommend a good long-sleeve base layer (modern wool is nice), a puffy coat to insulate, and a relatively thin shell that will fit over everything. That'll cover you for just about anything. Flexibility is key.
I agree generally, but the right insulation can vary a lot from person to person. I run warm; if I wore a typical puffy as my insulating layer in anything above maybe ten degrees Fahrenheit, I'd be way too warm. I think there is a tendency for people new to cold weather activities to end up dressing too warmly (and then making themselves needlessly sweaty in the active part of the activity). It's a tough balance, but I'd rather be a little cold on a lift than too warm while actually skiing (as that tends to make me a lot colder on the lift, over the course of a day).
Last edited by EddyB on Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by livesoft » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:10 pm

If you wear a puffy coat, just consider that the size of what you wear over it will affect its thermal property. A tight shell will compress the loft and the puffy won't be as warm, but that could be good while exercising. A loose shell will let the puffy maintain its loft and it will be warmer than when compressed.

There are rather low-loft down jackets, too. This is an area where you can get good enough, but an experienced person would have tried many options and dialed in a piece of kit to perfection.

And wearing adjustments can affect your perceived temperature. For instance, unzipping a puffy and having the shell zipped while skiing is different from a fully zipped puffy and shell zipped while sitting on the lift.
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by SmallSaver » Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:22 pm

EddyB wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:08 pm
SmallSaver wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:59 am
As others have pointed out, there's no real reason to get a 3-in-1, but you absolutely need to be able to layer. I'd recommend a good long-sleeve base layer (modern wool is nice), a puffy coat to insulate, and a relatively thin shell that will fit over everything. That'll cover you for just about anything. Flexibility is key.
I agree generally, but the right insulation can vary a lot from person to person. I run warm; if I wore a typical puffy as my insulating layer in anything above maybe ten degrees Fahrenheit, I'd be way too warm. I think there is a tendency for people new to cold weather activities to end up dressing too warmly (and then making themselves needlessly sweaty in the active part of the activity). It's a tough balance, but I'd rather be a little cold on a lift than too warm while actually skiing (as that tends to make me a lot colder on the lift, over the course of a day).
Fair enough. For OP, this points something out: as with any wardrobe, there's a lot of personal preference, and you're best served by buying versatile pieces that can be worn separately or combined instead of whole set outfits!

btenny
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by btenny » Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:34 pm

Mister I agree. I like 3 in 1 jacket combos with built in hoods for simplicity. I have 3 of them. I use the oldest one for outdoor snow blowing almost every winter. It is still warm and stylish but has wear scuff patterns. It is 18 years old. I wear mine over a nice light weight under shirt. Then if it gets hot I just take off one of the layers and zip open the shell and take off my hat. If it gets cold I put on my hat and put up my hood.

Oh make sure you get good velcro cuffs on the shell jacket. This lets you tighten up the sleeve around the under coat and then cover both with a long cuff glove. So no exposed wrist skin.

I also have 2 all in one winter jackets that I got at Costco over the years. Brand XYZ for small $$. These are fine for outdoor work and around town stuff at modest temperatures. For first time skiers wearing one of these heavy coats over a nice base layer will work fine down to maybe 5 degrees F.

But beware I have not found any coat or multi layer setup that is warm and comfy at -5 degrees F and colder IMO. It is even worse if it is really windy. My face and cheeks get cold as do my hands when it is that cold. I try to use a face mask but I am not a big fan of those. So mostly when it is that cold I go home. But I am an old guy now. When I was young I stayed out and skied at -10 and windy. I just went in for breaks more often.

Good Luck.

mw1739
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by mw1739 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:51 pm

As the previous poster noted, for someone who isn't looking to ski every week, gear from Costco works just fine. I skied last weekend in roughly 10 degree temps suited up basically head to toe in Costco gear (base layer shirt and pants, snow pants and winter coat). Only my middle layer shirt was not from Costco. Even picked up a helmet and goggles from Costco. My total investment in this gear is less than $200.

FIBoston
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by FIBoston » Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:03 pm

I rely on this website anytime I need to by any gear. Read through the reviews of their top products in any category, decide which one is right for you, buy it, and don't look back.

https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/c ... ski-jacket

Slapshot
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Slapshot » Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:35 pm

Nobody has mentioned L.L. Bean. Check them out online.
This time, like all times, is the best of times if we but know what to do with it.

UALflyer
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by UALflyer » Thu Jan 24, 2019 3:00 pm

btenny wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:34 pm
Oh make sure you get good velcro cuffs on the shell jacket. This lets you tighten up the sleeve around the under coat and then cover both with a long cuff glove. So no exposed wrist skin.
The above works fine, but some of the better ski jackets have a much more effective solution: interior stretch cuffs with thumb holes, which are sewn into the ski jacket (here's a picture: https://www.obermeyer.com/features/stre ... inner-cuff). This is significantly better than trying to secure your sleeve over your wrists or a long glove over the ski jacket, as it's much easier to move your arms with inner cuffs, and the snow and wind are kept completely out. Also, if it's not that cold, you have the option of taking your gloves/mittens off and skiing (won't work for beginners, as they fall a lot and need to keep their gloves on) or walking around with just your stretch cuffs on.

This is so effective, versatile and convenient that a lot of regular winterwear now also uses it.

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Mister A
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Mister A » Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:16 pm

All this good advice is definitely being considered. I haven't given up on 3-in-1s but I certainly see the point about separates.

If I go for a cheap 3-in-1, I'm looking at the Columbia Whirlibird III (thanks, FIBoston, Outdoor Gear's review turned me on to it as well as a number of other products): https://www.columbia.com/mens-whirlibir ... 00471.html

On the better/midrange side, I'm still looking at the Patagonia Snowshot, but likely as a separate. I've crossed off Arc'Teryx due to it being way beyond my needs, but the Patagonia warranty does have a certain appeal. Also looked at Outdoor Research Skyward II, but was put off by complaints about the waterproofing, as a major use case for me is using the shell in cold rains. Some of the other jackets like the Blackpowder look interesting, though.

Style and fit are an issue as I'm pretty tall and it's proving tricky to find my sizes in stock. Thanks so much for the insights.
Last edited by Mister A on Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

btenny
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by btenny » Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:00 pm

UAL. Those funny cuffs are not really practical for long days skiing from my experience. They get wet and they get dirty and then they get the insides of your gloves wet and dirty. Then your hands get really cold. And there is the whole issue of fitting well versus hand size and arm length. So the people I know end up cutting those cuff things out of the jackets with them. Maybe the newer cuff models have super elastic so you can pull them up but the older versions I have seen did not work well.

Think about how often a person skiing takes their gloves off to do stuff. Often.. When people fall their skis comes off and they need reset the bindings so they take their gloves off. When they work a phone they take the gloves off. When they go to the bathroom they handle stuff and wash their hands. They eat lunch outside and handle that juicy burger so they take their gloves off. You get the idea.

William104
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by William104 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:02 pm

Some interesting comments here so far on recommended brands. Personally, and coming from someone who lives in a ski resort community, you can't go wrong with the higher end brands like Patagonia. I have one ski jacket and multiple mid layer jackets from them that I wear almost daily. They also 100% stand behind their products. That said, it is complete overkill if you are just looking to use it for a week of learning to ski. You can find some good deals on Backcountry sales as well as direct sales on Patagonia's website on later model products though.

I'm also not a fan of the 3 in 1 jackets and think you'd be better off getting an insulated ski jacket and wearing a decent mid layer under it. They are plenty warm without being thick and bulky. When you are a beginner skier you are going to be working much harder than you need to be when you are learning which will make you run pretty hot. You'll be surprised how quickly you can start sweating even in 30 degree or less weather.

Some other brands I'd look for on Backcountry sales are OR, Marmot, Black Diamond, Mammut. Try here: https://www.backcountry.com/mens-ski-ja ... +*%5D&nf=1

sixtyforty
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by sixtyforty » Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:50 am

For a beginner skier I would go in order of priority;
1-Your Budget
2-Fit
3-Function
4-Brand

For what you will be doing most companies will produce good stuff. Having said that, I have the most respect for Patagonia. They have been the leaders in fabric and function for around 40 years (inventing fleece back in 1979).
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo Da Vinci

UALflyer
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by UALflyer » Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:54 am

btenny wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:00 pm
UAL. Those funny cuffs are not really practical for long days skiing from my experience. They get wet and they get dirty and then they get the insides of your gloves wet and dirty. Then your hands get really cold. And there is the whole issue of fitting well versus hand size and arm length. So the people I know end up cutting those cuff things out of the jackets with them. Maybe the newer cuff models have super elastic so you can pull them up but the older versions I have seen did not work well.

Think about how often a person skiing takes their gloves off to do stuff. Often.. When people fall their skis comes off and they need reset the bindings so they take their gloves off. When they work a phone they take the gloves off. When they go to the bathroom they handle stuff and wash their hands. They eat lunch outside and handle that juicy burger so they take their gloves off. You get the idea.
I know exactly what you're talking about, and it's a good point, but some of the better jackets don't have this problem. The cuffs in them are elastic and, when retracted, stick out half an inch to an inch. Because they're elastic, hand size and arm length is also not a problem. They're made of moisture wicking material, so they don't really get wet either. They might get moist, but my gloves get significantly more wet than the cuffs.

For the reasons above, taking the glove off (and the cuff off) is not a problem. In fact, as I mentioned above, on warmer days lots of people just take off their gloves and just use these cuffs on their hands.

Also, out of curiosity, why do you take your glove off to reset your bindings? I've been skiing my whole life and have never done that. Your point is the same regardless, but I'm just curious.

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Mister A
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Mister A » Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:38 am

Getting closer to pulling the trigger. After sleeping on this, I decided to go ahead and make an investment in a piece of winter outerwear that will last me a while and am down to three contenders.

Patagonia Powder Bowl has a lifetime warranty, much heavier poly thread than the cheaper Snowshot, two-layer goretex, has a removable hood. Might be a little more stylish-looking.
https://www.patagonia.com/product/mens- ... 31392.html

Also, I would never pay retail for this, but found a significant sale on the Arc'Teryx Beta AR and am tempted. It's not primarily a ski jacket but well-reviewed for that purpose, three-layer goretex, probably the best fitting, and solid for all other uses as a general all-weather jacket. I'd mix-and-match a much cheaper pair of snow pants.
https://arcteryx.com/us/en/shop/mens/beta-ar-jacket

At the cheaper end since no separate midlayer purchase is needed, North Face's 3-in-1 Thermoball Snow gets consistent high marks in reviews for being more fitted and having a much warmer zip-in midlayer than most 3-in-1s.
https://www.thenorthface.com/shop/mens- ... t-nf0a3323

Looked at some various Outdoor Research, Marmot, Black Diamond, and Quiksilver products, but nothing that really felt like it might be in the sweet spot.

livesoft
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by livesoft » Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:49 am

Now that you did all that research, I will tell you that I want every piece of gear that I own to be usable for multi purposes.

I have an outer shell that is waterproof and breathable and lightweight. I can use it in the summer, fall, spring, and winter. In the winter. It is easily washable and easy to re-treat with DWR.

I have to wear something under it, so I have a fleece one-quarter-zip pullover, for early spring and later fall (and no extra later for spring through fall). I also have down jackets for the super cold that I have purchased over the last 35 years. I use the one bought in Beijing every evening and morning while camping from November to March. If raining/snowing, I put the aforementioned outer shell over it.

And none of these are "base layers."

Thus, I would never buy outerwear that I would only wear a few days a year.
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SmallSaver
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by SmallSaver » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:15 am

Mister A wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:38 am
Getting closer to pulling the trigger. After sleeping on this, I decided to go ahead and make an investment in a piece of winter outerwear that will last me a while and am down to three contenders.

Patagonia Powder Bowl has a lifetime warranty, much heavier poly thread than the cheaper Snowshot, two-layer goretex, has a removable hood. Might be a little more stylish-looking.
https://www.patagonia.com/product/mens- ... 31392.html

Also, I would never pay retail for this, but found a significant sale on the Arc'Teryx Beta AR and am tempted. It's not primarily a ski jacket but well-reviewed for that purpose, three-layer goretex, probably the best fitting, and solid for all other uses as a general all-weather jacket. I'd mix-and-match a much cheaper pair of snow pants.
https://arcteryx.com/us/en/shop/mens/beta-ar-jacket

At the cheaper end since no separate midlayer purchase is needed, North Face's 3-in-1 Thermoball Snow gets consistent high marks in reviews for being more fitted and having a much warmer zip-in midlayer than most 3-in-1s.
https://www.thenorthface.com/shop/mens- ... t-nf0a3323

Looked at some various Outdoor Research, Marmot, Black Diamond, and Quiksilver products, but nothing that really felt like it might be in the sweet spot.
Those look like good choices, esp that Patagonia.

I will caution against a more fitted look - for the most versatility I prefer outer layers with a little room, so I can stuff a layer under them if I need and still have good mobility and warmth. This is something that frustrates me about women's outdoor clothing - a lot of it is cut more fitted and is tougher to layer, rides up and creates gaps, etc...(I'm a guy, fwiw).

Topic Author
Mister A
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Mister A » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:27 am

livesoft wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:49 am
Now that you did all that research, I will tell you that I want every piece of gear that I own to be usable for multi purposes.
This is my approach, as well. I'm looking for an uninsulated shell that will see mixed use for winter sports and all those year-round situations where my wool jacket and/or overcoat just don't cut it, to layer over a fleece or puff jacket depending on conditions. I think these are all good candidates for something I'll use regularly.
SmallSaver wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:15 am
I will caution against a more fitted look - for the most versatility I prefer outer layers with a little room, so I can stuff a layer under them if I need and still have good mobility and warmth. This is something that frustrates me about women's outdoor clothing - a lot of it is cut more fitted and is tougher to layer, rides up and creates gaps, etc...(I'm a guy, fwiw).
I definitely see the issue, although nobody seems to be complaining in reviews of the AR. Many Patagonia reviews seem to lean toward "fits like a potato sack, even with multiple layers". Yet if I'm wearing this, it's probably because the weather is bad enough that I don't care, so it really becomes about putting a price on the Patagonia warranty. Both seem like great products.
Last edited by Mister A on Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

LawyersGunsAndMoney
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by LawyersGunsAndMoney » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:28 am

Mister A wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:38 am
Getting closer to pulling the trigger. After sleeping on this, I decided to go ahead and make an investment in a piece of winter outerwear that will last me a while and am down to three contenders.

Patagonia Powder Bowl has a lifetime warranty, much heavier poly thread than the cheaper Snowshot, two-layer goretex, has a removable hood. Might be a little more stylish-looking.
https://www.patagonia.com/product/mens- ... 31392.html

Also, I would never pay retail for this, but found a significant sale on the Arc'Teryx Beta AR and am tempted. It's not primarily a ski jacket but well-reviewed for that purpose, three-layer goretex, probably the best fitting, and solid for all other uses as a general all-weather jacket. I'd mix-and-match a much cheaper pair of snow pants.
https://arcteryx.com/us/en/shop/mens/beta-ar-jacket

At the cheaper end since no separate midlayer purchase is needed, North Face's 3-in-1 Thermoball Snow gets consistent high marks in reviews for being more fitted and having a much warmer zip-in midlayer than most 3-in-1s.
https://www.thenorthface.com/shop/mens- ... t-nf0a3323

Looked at some various Outdoor Research, Marmot, Black Diamond, and Quiksilver products, but nothing that really felt like it might be in the sweet spot.
In terms of budget, keep in mind that you are going to need mid-layers with both the Patagonia and Arc'Teryx, they're non-insulated shells.

rich126
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by rich126 » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:34 am

I'm not sure what the current technologies are, but when I skied for years I made sure everything was Gortex so that it was waterproof and not just water resistant. Nothing worse than getting wet while skiing, it really ruins the day. I would actually use the gloves in the winter when I washed my car since they kept my hands warm and dry.

Also if you get thermal underwear make sure it is breathable. Many moons ago when I first started skiing I just wore cotton stuff but it just soaked up the sweat and afterwards I could wring it out. The breathable stuff does a great job of keeping you warm and dry.

This might be a personal bias but stay away from white outfits. In a snowstorm people wearing those outfits just blend in with the ground and snow and it was hard to see them.

Skiing is fun but expensive and a hassle carrying all of the clothes and equipment (unless you rent all the time which may not be a bad idea).

Have fun.

ktip
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by ktip » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:56 am

Those look like good choices, esp that Patagonia.

I will caution against a more fitted look - for the most versatility I prefer outer layers with a little room, so I can stuff a layer under them if I need and still have good mobility and warmth. This is something that frustrates me about women's outdoor clothing - a lot of it is cut more fitted and is tougher to layer, rides up and creates gaps, etc...(I'm a guy, fwiw).
I agree with that, plus a note about that Beta AR jacket: I have one that I still use (with some patches heh) from ~2000. At least that year 2000 model was nicely sized for layering and like another poster said, the arc’teryx stuff has a nice fit. In my experience it’s not that their shells like that are close-fitting and hard to layer under but, rather, tailored. In my mind it’s like buying a more expensive tailored shirt or blazer.

However, downside to that Beta AR jacket is that it is a bit shorter than some other shells, and looking at your link it looks like it’s still made that way, like maybe 1.5-2” shorter than some other ones. I have found the shorter length was nice for really athletic activities in snow/ ice and when wearing rain pants. Two significant downsides, though: 1) during summer when don’t always want to wear rain pants, it wasn’t and isn’t ideal, as it doesn’t provide as much coverage as other shells, and 2) now that I am sadly doing less mountain stuff, it’s not great for around town wear in the winter or in rain because some of my longer layers, sweaters etc., pop out the bottom, and then get wet in bad weather.

I really like Patagonia’s lifetime warranty and have not had as good as experience with arc’teryx.

All that said, I’m sure you won’t go wrong with any of those. And also the one time I went lift skiing in the Canadian Rockies it was a freaking cold experience, so depending on when you go, a puffy might not be a bad idea.

dustinst22
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by dustinst22 » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:56 am

It's been a long time since I've researched this stuff. I grew up in Alaska, so used to pay more attention to high quality outdoor brands.

From my understanding, The North Face used to be a very high caliber brand a couple decades ago, but is now a mass market brand and has lowered the quality and pricing some.

Local Alaskans all used Outdoor Research, and it was the most respected brand in terms of price to quality ratio. I've heard that Arc'Teryx has replaced the North Face as the highest quality brand, but you definitely pay for it.

CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by CascadiaSoonish » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:30 pm

Lots of good advice in here -- I'll just mention that in my experience, money spent on very high quality base layers gives a lot more bang for the buck than money on the shell. I've found that the best-quality socks and very high quality smartwool base layers make such a huge difference, while the differences between my different shells are minor and really more about fine-tuning for conditions (and I usually ski where conditions are often grubby, so it's important to get it all right)

Seriously, $40 on socks can provide more benefit than a $800 coat.

mountaingoatcos
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by mountaingoatcos » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:37 pm

I think both Arc'teryx and pantagonia make good quality stuff. I second another posters response about outdoor research, I like their products, and they are cheaper than Pantagonia and Arc'teryx.

another idea is if you buy it at REI, and you don't like it you can take it back within a year.

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Mister A
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Mister A » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:50 pm

ktip wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:56 am
However, downside to that Beta AR jacket is that it is a bit shorter than some other shells, and looking at your link it looks like it’s still made that way, like maybe 1.5-2” shorter than some other ones....it’s not great for around town wear in the winter or in rain because some of my longer layers, sweaters etc., pop out the bottom, and then get wet in bad weather.
This is a great insight and I see what you mean from the pictures. I was interested because I can get it for roughly the same price as the Patagonia Powder Bowl, but that's a big point against it.
All that said, I’m sure you won’t go wrong with any of those. And also the one time I went lift skiing in the Canadian Rockies it was a freaking cold experience, so depending on when you go, a puffy might not be a bad idea.
For sure. Since we sometimes have a week or more around 0F locally, that's another part of this investment that will keep paying dividends.
dustinst22 wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:56 am
Local Alaskans all used Outdoor Research, and it was the most respected brand in terms of price to quality ratio.
I only spent any time on the Skyward II and crossed it off because the waterproofing was not getting good reviews, and because the hood apparently struggles to fit over helmets. I do think the style and fit would be good, though. I'll take another pass through their products before I make a decision.
CascadiaSoonish wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:30 pm
Seriously, $40 on socks can provide more benefit than a $800 coat.
I'm with you. I'm asking on here instead of a hobbyist forum because I know I'll get value-minded feedback.

Starfish
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by Starfish » Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:02 pm

If you are a beginner you don't need anything more that about the cheapest things you can buy. Nobody can see how you look if you go fast or if you are in the forest.
I have a cheap Columbia jacket (100$ as a grad student 14 years ago) and cheap Columbia ski pants, taped here and there, and I skied with them the double diamonds and forests from Whistler to Park City and from Lake Placid to Vail. Plus 10-14 days a season in Lake Tahoe.

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cruzbay
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Re: Skiwear Advice - Columbia/North Face vs. Arc'Teryx/Patagonia

Post by cruzbay » Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:58 pm

It will be hard to beat Patagonia for customer service and their level of quality is high. Their nano-puff line is great for layering and packs up small in a stuff sack. Generally, each year in January (I think) Patagonia has a sale so watch for that.

For under layers, you might look at the HeatTech line at Uniqlo. Not expensive compared to some alternatives but I have had many of their pieces and found that they wear very well and hold up with washing over the past years. As for lower cost sources of outdoor wear, you might check Sierra Trading Post's website. Total luck of the draw there. Every once in awhile, there will be a piece that is from a great brand at a discounted price.

Another note, the exchange rate is such that you would save a lot by buying in Canada vs the US. Each dollar costs you approx 76 cents US! Some great shops in Banff including Monod Sports with a large collection of Arc'Terx. https://www.monodsports.com/

Enjoy the Canadian Rockies. A picture postcard everywhere you look!

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