It can be hard to keep up with the latest outerwear trends. From fit to functionality, puffies, baselayers and hardshells undergo small design tweaks every year and we are here to help you parse out the gear that best fits your backcountry needs.
For our 2017 Apparel Guide, we focus on the timeless and the trending. These are classics that we know and love, alongside the best in new materials, styles and tech. For our next installment of the Apparel Guide online, we introduce midlayers, the peanut butter that keeps the layer sandwich together.
Patagonia Nano Air Light Hoody
The Nano Air Light is a new interpretation of the popular, full-zip Nano Air that first hit stores in fall 2014 and blew open the trend in highly breathable synthetic insulation. Sporting 33 percent less insulation and advertised as 75 percent more breathable than its heftier sibling, this half-zip hoody is designed for the high-exertion skier or rider who worries about perspiration ruining a powder day. The face fabric and lining—made from stretch nylon—is soft and flexible, offering unrestricted range of motion for sweaty downhill runs or cold skintrack laps. A trim fit and stretch-woven cuffs keep the Nano secure under outer layers and help prevent snow from working its way into where the sun don’t shine. A left chest pocket provides a convenient place to store a quick snack or phone, and the medium-sized hood, while intended to fit over low-profile helmets, is better suited to snug over a hat or headband to buffer wind and cold.
Bottom Line: A light, versatile layer for the uphill and the down, for hitting the bar or heading into the backcountry. It’s so comfy and light, you might even want to wear it to bed.
Dynafit Mezzalama Alpha PTC
It can be difficult to find a sufficiently protective jacket that’s also breathable for heavy-exertion ascents, but the Mezzalama deftly walks this line. Using Dynafit’s proprietary polyester stretch-blend ripstop material, which boasts high elasticity and is DWR treated, the Mezzalama is built for ease of movement and moisture transfer. Features: Polartec Alpha insulation, designed for warmth and high-output wicking, is located on the chest and back. A chest pocket keeps niceties on hand, and a built-in hood blocks wind and other winter elements. Fit: A loose fit around the torso offers room for additional baselayers, and a full-length zipper allows for quick removal at transitions. Thumb loops secure cuffs under a shell and gloves. Bottom Line: A lightweight, packable layer that provides breathable protection on chilly skintracks.
Stormy Kromer Kromer Jack
From homesteading to shredding, the Jack has a bespoke look reminiscent of spring sugaring in the Northeast. Opt for traditional red plaid, and all you need is an axe and Allen’s Coffee Brandy to be mistaken for a Mainer. Function: Made with a wool/nylon blend, the Jack lies somewhere between a shirt and jacket—designed to be an outer layer on warmer days and as added insulation in biting cold. Fit: A roomy fit makes the Jack best suited as a light outer layer, and button closures add to its old-fashioned feel. Durable wool—while a bit itchy for more delicate constitutions—serves as a layer of resilience for forest schwacking when skiing or wood splitting at the hut. Bottom Line: For the old soul who relates more to Paul Bunyan than Travis Rice.
The synthesis of breathability and warmth is the objective with midlayer insulation, and the Kooshin is Trew’s lightweight, insulated layer that also boasts wicking properties for moisture management. With a stretch-woven ripstop shell, this layer is intended to move freely. Features: Trew’s proprietary, synthetic insulation, made from hollow-core polyester yarn, is placed in strategic locations with added quilting under the arms and on the sides of the torso, acting as a location-specific thermostat. Fit: A high collar streamlines the Kooshin’s fit under a shell, and a loose profile allows ample room for baselayers. Elastic cuffs lock in warmth, and two side pockets and a chest pocket provide storage for snacks and other necessities. Bottom Line: A reliable midlayer for those who look for added insulation but still need breathability on hotter or more active days.