2022 Editors’ Choice: Apparel

For the last 13 years, we’ve assembled a huge crew and massive quiver of gear at Powder Mountain, Utah, for a week of testing. But last winter, with the pandemic hanging over the nation, we changed plans and brought the test to the people. Across 10 states and with 75 testers, we ran 124 skis, boots and bindings through the wringer to find this year’s best gear. They narrowed those down to 35 Editors’ Choice awards, which name the top pieces of gear in each category.

Our testers have always pushed apparel in harsh conditions, and this season was no exception. After all, the folks who make the cut as BCM testers aren’t scared of skinning in sleet, heavy snow and blistering sun—sometimes all on the same day. Below, you’ll find the cream of the crop of jackets, pants, puffies and midlayers.

Rab Khroma Cirque

$425  ·  rab.equipment/us

Rab’s new ultralight Khroma Cirque is made with Gore-Tex Active, the lightest, most breathable three-layer fabric Gore-Tex makes. “The jacket hasn’t gotten damp on me, and the fabric sheds snow well,” said one tester.

Another appreciated the low-profile zippers used in the armpit vents, while a third added, “This jacket has thoughtful placement of the vented chest pockets and easy-to-grab zipper pulls for gloved hands.”

Flylow Compound Bib

$500  ·  Flylowgear.com

This two-in-one trouser pairs bombproof materials and freeride styling with a removable softshell bib. A fast-and-light tester enjoyed the balance of “frontcountry styling and backcountry functionality.” He appreciated the athletic cut and found that the 100-percent nylon eVent fabric held up well.

“The pockets are easy to access with a pack on—and on the chairlift,” attested a Tahoe-based freeride coach. “The double-sided vents make it a breeze to dump heat when skinning. The knees are articulated just right, so they have a nice, comfy lived-in feel while maintaining ease of movement.” Both testers buzzed about the oft-forgotten rear pocket for stashing a wallet, in addition to the hand-warmer pockets on the thigh and the removable bib.

La Sportiva Titan Down Jacket

$239  ·  sportiva.com

The Titan’s shell is 88-percent recycled polyamide, the inner lining is 100-percent recycled polyamide, and the fill is 700-fill recycled goose down. “Everyone should carry a really warm, hooded extra layer when out ski touring,” our tester concluded. “And the Titan might be perfect to fill this slot.”

“The Titan is a perfect snow-pit/windy-lunch-spot/gearing-up-on-a-cold-morning jacket,” wrote another tester of this packable insurance policy. “Tons of warmth, great fit, easy packing.” He appreciated La Sportiva’s attention to detail, describing the insulator as “well thought out in its design and beautifully assembled in the stitching.”

Strafe Alpha Hooded Insulator

$269  ·  strafeouterwear.com

The Alpha Hoody’s outer face is Strafe’s Recon Air fabric, which allows breathability with a hint of water resistance. The inner workings are a mixed weight of Polartec Alpha insulation: 80 grams throughout the body and 60 grams in the arms and hood.

“The durable outer layer has been clutch. I’ve scraped up against more than a few sharp trees and rocks, but haven’t seen any rips yet,” said a tester who summed it up as “a really well made, highly functional layering piece or standalone jacket for more casual wear.” A second tester agreed, saying, “This jacket serves as a very packable and durable midlayer that also looks great at the bar afterward.”

Get your copy of the 2022 Backcountry Gear Guide with in-depth reviews of all 35 Editors’ Choice winners, plus additional reviews of 153 skis, splitboards, boots, bindings, apparel and accessories.

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