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Shell Jacket and Pants – How to Choose

Showing our Shell Jacket and Pants

My Bro and I all decked out in our shell layers and ready to go.

The shell layer, which includes both the shell jacket and shell pants, protects you from the wind and snow. Shells range from pricey high tech shells to simple wind breaker shells. Most allow at least some perspiration to escape; virtually all are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to make water bead up and roll off the fabric.

Your outer shell is very important in bad weather, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you’ll get cold. This can not only be uncomfortable but could be potentially dangerous. Furthermore you need to have proper ventilation because if perspiration can’t evaporate, it condenses on the inside of your shell, which again makes you wet and then you’ll get cold.

Thus it is important to know what’s available and align this with what your needs are in order to ensure you stay warm and dry while you’re snow skiing.

 

 

Shell Jacket and Pants – The Rundown

Shells can be more or less lumped into the following categories:

Waterproof, breathable shells: These are the most functional but also the most expensive choices. These shells are excellent for the wet, cold conditions you often find during skiing. These types of shells can be further broken down into shells using laminated membranes and those using fabric coatings to achieve their waterproof and breathable operation. The laminated membrane shells, such as Gore-Tex and eVent, give the best performance but are also more costly.

Water-resistant, breathable shells: These shells are less expensive than waterproof, breathable shells, but they are not as high performance.  If you plan to be out in harsh weather, you will probably need more protection then this kind of shell will give you. They do block wind and light moisture and are most functional for warmer conditions without lots of moisture.

Soft shells: These are a rather new category of outerwear and really only apply to the shell jacket.  They are based on soft, stretchy fabric that is water resistant and very breathable.  They usually have some insulating properties as well, so can help keep you warm.  However, these shells are not intended for very harsh weather conditions and if you are going to be facing those types of conditions, you best go with a hard shell listed above.

Now if you’re like me, you probably have questions and want more specific information on these waterproof and breathable fabrics.  I always want to know what I should be looking for before I lay down my hard earned money. Well, to give you all the specifics on this would make this post too long, so I found a great write up that gives you all this data so that you can get educated and make an informed decision.  Access that article here: The Waterproof Gear Guide.

Other Things to Consider.

Now before you buy your shell jacket and pants there are a number of other things you’ll want to consider to make sure you have what you need when you’re on the slopes.  Let’s cover these things here.

  • Be sure the shell jacket is roomy enough so you can put on several layers underneath it without it restricting your movement.  Make sure there is room in the neck area when it is zipped up as well as in the body area.
  • Do you want a hood on your shell jacket?   A hood can be great to have when it’s storming, but you may not want it on all the time – so does the hood detach?
  • Are their venting options – like pit zips in your jacket and leg opening zips in your pants.  These are a real relief to have if it gets warm and you need to bleed off some extra heat.
  • Does the shell jacket have a high collar?  I hate my neck to get cold so I make sure that all my jackets have collars that zip up to my chin and are lined inside with soft non-irritating material.
  • Does the shell jacket have a powder skirt or at least a cord closure at the bottom?  You‘ll want at least one of these so that you can close them and keep the snow from coming up into your jacket when you are cruising in the powder (or rolling down the hill).  I prefer the powder skirt myself and all my jackets have them.
  • How many pockets do the jacket and pants have – and are they located where you can easily get to them when you have them on?  There is nothing worse than not having pockets when you need them or not being able to easily access a pocket that has something you need.  Put the item on and check them out.  Do the pockets open easily and are they in the right position?  Believe me; you want to know this before you buy – so check it out.

There you have it, your shell layer rundown.  Use this data and go out and select a great shell layer, both jacket and pants, and you’ll stay comfortable no matter what mother throws at you on the slopes.

Let me know what you think of this post and how it has helped you.  You can use the leave a comment tab below.




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