A great winter is on the way. Snow will be a flying, temps will come down and we’ll all be getting out for some laps at the hill and in the backcountry. Life is good. Yet do you find yourself craving these winter activities but dreading the cold? Cold hands, cold feet, cold everything?
My theory, which has served me well for years, is if I keep my core toasty then the rest wil take care of itself a whole lot easier.
I’ve recently come across two items from Arc’teryx that have totally changed my cold weather game. One is a thermal layer the other is a shell, used together or separate they have opened up new doors of comfort in cold weather. Very excited! I’ll give a detailed blow by blow of their respective strengths and weaknesses and let you decide.
The Rush IS is a new ski/board jacket designed for resort days or cold days in the backcountry. It’s a sleek look and overall performs well in both environments. Initially I thought it was going to be too warm for any backcountry laps due to the insulation. However in the Rockies or on cold days it’s perfect. You definitely are not going to want it on warm backcountry days though.
Great mesh in vents.
Have you ever skinned up with your vents wide open to radiate that heat, ripped the skins and then tomohawked off a drop only to realise you totally forgot to close your vents? Really you haven’t? Well I sure have and it’s super lame! With the Rush IS however there is no need to worry, the vents breath super well but absolutely will not let snow inside. Mind blow.
Nice insulation around collar/neck
The neck collar has this wonderful bit of insulation inside the fabric. Without adding much weight it beefs up the collar so when you zip it tight it’s like having a warm little cat snuggling your neck. So toasty. If you don’t like cats then it’s like a puppy, whatever fits your imagination.
Ths jacket comes into it’s own for the resort. The soft and warm insulation is exactly what you’d like on any day except those t-shirt runs in the spring. However it surprisingly isn’t too hot of a jacket for backcountry skiing. Choose your days wisely, but if it’s cold this jacket is a very nice piece of gear to have even when skinning up hill.
Fine length but as a resort jacket could be 2-3″ longer.
Getting picky here, the length is fine but if it was a 100% resort jacker it’d be nice if the length was 2-3” longer.
Again as a resort jacket it would be nice if there was a thumb catch. If you wear old school gloves that go on top of your jacket sleeve then no worries. However if you have gloves that fit under you jacket sleeve a thumb catch would be nice so that you can have a bit of a gasket for those laid out groomer turns or deep pow laps.
Outside pockets are a fine size, however they could be a bit larger. If you like sticking your goggles in here to keep them from getting fogged while boot packing or skinning they will probably fit but be a tight squeeze.
Proton LT Hoodie
Cats Meow – full stop. That’s all you’re getting, just go find yourself one and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
This jacket rocked my world (still doing so). For years I always thought down puffies were the best we could get. Synthetics were a bit too heavy, got clumpy after a while, and tended to have a specific stench. Wool was too heavy for large jackets, fleece was bulky and on the heavy side. So I went with down jackets, did my best to keep them dry and was very happy.
Then the Proton came into my life. About 4 years ago I tried one of Arc’teryx’s first iterations of the Proton and was not sold. It too was quite heavy like all other synthetics. Then this new Proton found its way into my hands.
Immediately you’ll notice the pro construction and nice feel, but that’s just pleasant distractions from it’s function. The Proton is a workhorse of a jacket. It wasn’t until huffing up a skin track did I really begin to realise the jackets potential.
I got hot, come on I was wearing a jacket, but instead of drenching the jacket in sweat it somehow managed to get rid of the moisture as fast as I was producing it. It was a cold day and when we stopped usually your jacket would get a bit cold and when you put your backpack on your back again there would be that biting cold feeling of the jacket pressing against you. Completely didn’t happen.
Breaths incredibly well
As described the Proton LT is a weapon in the backcountry. Since beginning to use the Proton my down jacket hasn’t come touring with me ever again (we’re in counseling). I can’t rave enough about it’s breathability, it’s honestly like nothing I’ve worn before.
Performs like wool when it’s wet
Another huge asset of the Proton is its ability to keep your body warm even when it’s fully saturated. After a particularly intense skin we had a quick snack break where my pack was off and a stiff breeze was blowing. Usually I’d be putting a puffy on but I hadn’t brought it and wanted to see what the Proton was like with a bunch of cold wind while I was sweaty. To my surprise I didn’t get chilled. This is one of the defining factors to the Proton, breaths yet retains heat when wet.
Nice wrist gaskets
Classic Arc’teryx design here with comfy silk like wrist cuffs. Keeps wind out and wrists pampered and happy.
Zippers are slightly awkward
Also another classic Arc’teryx design is adding at times a little too much subtle flair. The zippers are inset in a way that causes some less than smooth zipping action. Not a deal breaker but seems to have been done strictly for styles sake and definitely takes away from function.
Holds a smell if you wear it too long without washing.
Synthetics still haven’t solved this problem. After wearing the jacket for 2 weeks on the regular an odor was beginning to become evident. A quick wash and all is back to normal, however I’ve never had this problem with down jackets.