Just because my personal philosophy of snowsports fashion is about holding onto what works best for as long as possible — much to the dismay of my family that collectively cringes at the dirty, duct-taped apparel I trot out with for the seventh, eighth, ninth season in a row — doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the latest industry trends.
In fact, like many of us in the lift line, I’m constantly browsing new looks and inquiring about how the latest in outerwear performs in various mountain conditions, continually editing a mental shopping list that might actually, eventually result in a purchase. It’s fun, but there’s also considerable research behind the trending we see in our sport.
You might have noticed that small brands like Strafe, Voormi and Stio are gaining in popularity, a fact confirmed by the latest Insights Report produced by Snowsports Industries America. Solid colors, clean lines and pockets, and lean fits are current style trends, the report proclaims.
And beyond style, apparel makers continue to explore fabric innovations that strike a viable balance between environmental sensitivity and functional perfection. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFC), for instance, have been used for decades in the outdoor industry due to their exemplary water-repellant properties. Now, apparel makers are exploring alternatives, though PFCs still reign.
Voormi’s innovative nylon-reinforced Surface Hardened thermal wool pushes the performance of natural fibers through advanced construction methods. Look for another innovation — biomimetic spider silk — to begin appearing in ski apparel as well. This recently developed method for spinning artificial spider silk will allow apparel makers to take advantage of the material’s lightweight and incredibly strong properties.
While your typical lift-line fashionista might not be well-versed in all the technological innovations, they know what they’re wearing makes them look good. Here are some of the most popular apparel items out there today that accomplish just that, and more.
The North Face Chakal
This weatherproof retro-inspired ski jacket features varied insulation that places the most warmth (100 g) at the core, slightly less (80 g) in the sleeves, and light insulation (60 g) in the hood. Modern bells and whistles for the hill include a snap-away powder skirt and underarm vents to keep you dry.
Burton AK 2L Blade
The Burton women’s 2L Gore-Tex Blade Jacket packs essential features like the waterproof strength of a fully Gore-Seam taped construction combined with the warmth and breathability of a mapped taffeta lining. The signature articulated fit allows for layering options in mixed weather conditions while allowing full range of motion on the climb up or the ride down.
Blackstrap Hood Balaclava
The hood features an ergonomic design and four-way stretch fabric for multiple wearing applications and helmet compatibility. It is UPF 50-plus rated to block 97.5 percent of harmful UV rays and has a dual-layer hinged mouth that is breathable for all-season use. Full synthetic, quick-dry fabric with moisture-wicking technology keeps you comfortable and dry. Everything is 100 percent lens safe to pair with your sport goggles or eyeglasses.
Hestra Fall Line Women’s
This mitten features a cowhide leather shell with Fiberfill insulation to keep your hands dry and warm. Hestra added a smooth Bemberg lining for soft comfort, and the neoprene cuff works with the hook-and-loop closure to keep snow out.
Coal B.E.B. Light
A single-layer balaclava made of moisture-wicking grid fleece fabric, it is warm and protective while being lightweight and breathable. It features a contoured shape for optimum fit and classic Coal label at hem.
Buff Original Women’s
The multifunctional Original Buff is a bandana, ponytail holder, sun guard, scarf, hat, neck gaiter or dust screen. Printed in fun designs and made of 100 percent polyester microfiber, it is durable, soft, wind resistant, breathable and moisture wicking. This seamless tube of fabric can be worn for everything from skiing to cycling and is ideal to wear under a helmet or other headwear.
Arc’teryx Sabre Glove
Designed for big-mountain freeride skiing and snowboarding, this durable glove features Gore-Tex hand protection with leather-reinforced fingers and palms, short cuff and Primaloft insulation.
Norrona Svalbard Anorak
This product is a men’s fashionably retro and light anorak made of organic cotton. With its timeless design and contemporary details, this anorak not only will give you full wind protection but also that old-school look and feel. The fabric is made durable and soft by a mix of organic cotton and recycled polyester. The kangaroo pocket is perfect for windy days, as is the protective hood. This anorak has a zipper on the side, which makes it easy to take on and off and can be used for ventilation.
Burton AK Oven Mitt
Touted as the warmest snowboard mitten on the planet, this product combines the collective heating powers of Triple Goose Down, 15 ounces of PrimaLoft Gold Insulation and a Hydrofil wicking fleece liner. It fights moisture with ultra-breathable Windstopper fabric from Gore, and its low-profile cuff easily slides underneath your jacket’s sleeves.