Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Gear This Year 2012: Jackets in Review

Part two in this year's look at my gear and its upkeep will focus on the stuff that keeps my torso warm and dry. I'm lucky enough to get some outerwear almost every year. Some because I'm good at trivia, some because I can convince people that my word can be construed as marketing, some through connections and some just because I pay hard dollars for it. One thing is for sure, now is the time to go through you jacket pockets. This year I found a goggle bag and a dollar. Thank Terje I didn't find anything rotten like I have in the Snowdays jackets (banana peel). Now on to my closet...

L to R: Homeschool, Holden, Columbia (w/ liner),
Volcom, Billabong, Neff

First up, the Homeschool Snowboarding With Teeth jacket in Ever (green). Well isn't that clevergreen. Homeschool sent me a kit to review for this winter, their first year with outerwear on the market. I haven't worn it riding yet, so I can't say much, but it is 10k waterproof and a whopping 30k breathable. It's comfortable. The fabric is nice and flexible right out of the wrapper. Enough pockets, not too many. Good pant to jacket connection. Some conspicuous omissions: wrist gaiters. The hood barely covers my XL helmet. I'm intrigued by the Cocona fabric technology. You'll hear more about this as the season plays out.

Next is the 2010 Holden Harvieux. It's a sample. 10k water and 5k breathe. Yeah, I get that inside-out sweat feel sometimes. Not a storm jacket, but my opening day jacket this year and my most stylish coat. To me this means I feel like I 'should' wear it around town, but I usually don't. I only wear the jackets in that picture around town when it's really pouring. Except the Neff. I save those jackets and their DWR for snowboarding. A regular hoodie will get you by in Portland. Especially when you're used to colder places. Anyway, the Holden jacket is nice in that it has wrist gaiters, as every jacket should, but surprisingly few do. It keeps me dry, but its pow skirt is worthless unless you have a zipper that fits (I don't). A good number of useful pockets and then one with a fake button top, but real side-zip entry. I thought it was a fake pocket for months. The hood actually fits comfortably over my King-dome helmet for those extra stormy days. The liner is Cocona and the rest of the coat is recycled poly. As Holden says, it's eco-friendlier, which is a plus in my book. I still wouldn't pay retail for it at $260. It needs to come through better than that for that price. Then again, I'm not into fashion.

That gray and green piece (and the darker layer to its right) is the 2011 Columbia Powder Bowl Parka. Columbia sent it to me because they identified me as a passionate blogger. And they wanted to crack into the snowboard scene. I said about all I have to say about this coat in this post. One thing a friend of mine brought to my attention is that this jacket might be good for hunters who sit in one spot for long hours. This means it might also be good for snow filmers. Just not people who are constantly riding. That said, I do keep the layer in my bag at all times.

What you see next is the Volcom Gennerman. Gore-Tex Soft Shell. Bought it in '08ish on one of those deal-a-day sites. Best jacket I've ever had. Amazing water and sweat resistance. Same goes for durability. Perfect number of pockets, that being four. That might have been a little before the era of wrist gaiters, so it has that excuse for not having them. The pit-zips don't have mesh backing, so if you ever have to open the vents you risk snow entering the 'no snow zone.' It has the standard Volcom Zip-Tech pow skirt, but also clips that work with belt loops for a more universal appeal. I wonder why more companies don't do that. Some jackets just work and this is one of them. I'd have no problem paying retail for this.

The black and green stripes? That's a little Billabong number. Mark Frank Montoya handed it to me when I correctly answered the question: Who did the music for Nicolas Müller's part in Saturation? This was at the Optimistic? (2007) premiere. Here's the thing, I had never seen Saturation. Still haven't. Justin Hostynek was up on the mic giving clues and and shutting people down. It was getting awkward for a second. Then he said something like, 'He might even be here tonight.' And that was the give away. Scott Sullivan. I try to wear this jacket when I'm riding with a big group. It's easy to pick out. Nothing special. Middle of the road stuff. Touchscreen compatible mobile device pocket. Good pow dress (the snaps). Starting to need the spray-on waterproofing (I use Nikwax TX Direct). I might have sold it if it didn't fit so well. Kinda ho-hum, but it has gotten me through a few years now.

Finally, you can guess by the print that the tech hoody on the far right is the Neff. That was a late-season sale purchase. For a road trip where I didn't have a rain jacket or a warm coat. Guess that means I bought it in '09. Saved my bacon in a Mississippi downpour. Pair up the animals type weather. Me out in my Neff checking out the swamps. Looking for gators. Saw none. She sees the spring slopes and city streets only. Breathes like a Hefty bag. The vents are always open. The pow skirt zips off when you don't need it and has those snap closures that can fasten around belt loops when you do. Thumb loops, too. Good piece. Knows its role. I just wish it was more breathable.

Having more than one jacket is key. You can switch things up and not wear the same jacket back to back, over and over. This increases the durability more than you can imagine. Now, I know not everyone is lucky enough to have six jackets, but when you see that I only paid for two of them, well maybe I've given you some ideas as to how to get cheap or free jackets for yourself. Of course, most involve luck. Some involve buying used, buying in the springtime or finding sample sales. Get some Gore-Tex Soft Shell if you can. That fabric is perfect. Keep an eye out for Homeschool Snowboarding, though. They could be a hometown sleeper.

Check out my other "My Gear This Year 2012" reviews: Boards and Pants

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