Though the calendar might suggest warmer temperatures, here in NYC and from the Alps to the Rockies, the snow continues to fall. After testing outerwear and base layer pieces across a full range of conditions–from frigid blustery days at high elevations to slushy springtime conditions–we've found these technical garments perform in nearly any weather. The major draw with all of these pieces is versatility; a wide range of suitable temperatures and variable alpine conditions, to uses. For most of us, hitting the mountains means some amount of travel, so garments that are conducive to multiple activities and uses are key to efficient packing and staying dry no matter the occasion.
Black Diamond Equipment Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell
Salt Lake City-based Black Diamond Equipment develops their products quite literally in the shadow of the Utah's Wasatch Range. Once the climbing hardware outfit of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, the brand known for their ice axes, harnesses and mountaineering goods made their first foray into technical outerwear this season. Their flagship piece, the Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell ($349) shows the brand's ability to translate hard mountaineering know-how into attire. Using high-tech material from Swiss innovator Schoeller, the jacket offers the protection of a traditional shell with the flexibility and breathability of a soft shell. Comfortable in both the sun and the snow, the jacket's stretch lends itself well to both alpine climbing and ski mountaineering.
Arc'teryx Sabre Full Bib
Designed for deep days and long ski tours, the Sabre Full Bib pant ($525) functions equally well on sunny days skiing inbounds. Based in perpetually precipitous Vancouver, Arc'teryx understands the importance of staying dry and dumping body heat when it's time to hike or the sun shows. Three-layer GoreTex construction ensure both full waterproofing and high-breathability. After three days in conditions that wavered between a blizzard at the peak and a downpour at the base, water continued to easily roll off, keeping us dry and happy to be outside no matter the conditions. Ample pockets ensure enough cargo space to skip wearing a pack on shorter missions and fully vents with taped seams allow for an easy cool down.
Black Diamond Equipment Access Hybrid Hoody
When the temperatures drop, it's time to insulate. The Access Hybrid Hoody ($249) is packed with some of the most breathable synthetic insulation on the market from PrimaLoft, and repels water on the outside—meaning this piece can be worn on its own. Originally designed for ice climbing, the Access Hybrid stays true to Black Diamond's commitment to versatility with its high-mobility stretch material—a rarity for insulated jackets. Through in-depth field research, Black Diamond mapped out optimal locations for additional stretch panels that serve to both further increase mobility at key points as well as act as ventilation outlets. The Access Hybrid performs superbly on its own or with the Dawn Patrol outer layer and packs down for easy storage.
Stio Basis + Nau M2 Hoody
Jackets and pants might get all of the attention, but base layers are just as important for staying dry and comfortable. The Basis shirt ($145) from Wyoming-based Stio is one of our favorites for both its performance and versatility. Cut like your favorite work shirt but made from moisture-wicking Polartec's PowerDry wool blend, this shirt looks just as good during aprés-ski beers as it feels on your first run. Underneath we opted for the lightweight M2 Hoody ($125) from longtime CH favorite Portland-based Nau. The M2's quick-drying Tencel wool blend is light enough for a next-to-skin layer while the hood adds extra warmth and protection from the elements but is light enough to not feel bulky when stashed.
Photos by Todd Collins