Skiers in the Pacific Northwest get good at paying attention to the freezing level, and the snow line. In the damp mountains of the Coast Range the snow can come down in feet, or it can come down as raindrops, so, if you want to get deep, you have to be prepared to get soggy. Your best tool? A good gear set-up. Here’s what we wore on a recent trip to B.C.
Made by Vancouver-based designers who are also avid skiers, the Gore-Tex Alpha SV jacket is purpose built to hold up in harsh, drenching conditions. I’ve never stayed drier in a storm, even when all my friend’s jackets were soaking through, which means I could stay out and ski longer.
Built by another PNW company, Hood River, Oregon-based Dakine knows a thing or two about looking good and staying comfortable. The stretchy Inverness Pants are made of a two-layer softshell, which moves with you, and the taped seams keep water out. The best part is the cut, which is flattering without being constricting. Fair warning: they run small, so you might want to size up.
The do-everything Skida Tour keeps your face warm and your neck dry, and you can use it a goggle wipe or a headband (or a hair tie in a real pinch). But most importantly, it’s cute and cozy and makes everything feel a little bit more fun. I bring a couple on the hill.
We’re serious. Laugh all you want, but when it’s dumping rain, or snow just on the cold side of freezing, and your goggle lenses are soaked, you’re going to wish you had a skigee,
The charging all-mountain Rustler 11 (my 180 is 112 in the waist), has tip and tail rocker, but camber under foot, which makes it fun and playful in all types of conditions. That’s helpful when it’s blower pow up high, but slush at the base, which Whistler often is. It’s titanal core gives it a stiffness that holds an edge at any speed, so you don’t have to be scared to open it up.
Wild Rye’s wool baselayers, the Penny Raglan top and KT Leggings, are made by women who ski, for women who ski.That shows in the details, like ¾ length leggings with a wide waistband, and a top that’s cut like your favorite lounge around shirt, but is still wicking and breathable. Wool stays warm when it’s wet, which means you won’t be cold even if you’re clammy.
There’s nothing better than having a hot drink in your pack on a soggy day when it’s hard to get warm. Toss a Nuun tab in your thermos and you’ll have an electrolyte drink without much sugar ready to go. Plus, the tabs are small, so you can stash them in your pack for easy refills.
Black Diamond’s warmest, most dexterous gloves are made of Gore-Tex, so they’re fully waterproof, but unlike some other turbo weatherproof options they don’t make your hands feel like they’re jammed into clammy marshmallows. You still have good grip and agility, which also means less time taking your gloves on and off.
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