The snow keeps on falling in the west, and a girl has got to stay snuggled up on the slopes. 686 Technical Apparel rides the line of fashion, while staying in line with the snow technology you need out there. Snowboarders know the brand well, but skiers can rock it, too.
First, though, watch your sizing if you order their products sight unseen — for the women’s jackets and pants, at least, the small sizes run more like mediums, and the medium sizes more like larges.
I like the comfortable and flattering fit of these waterproof pants. They have an external waist adjustment, so tightening for first tracks and loosening for après is simple. The snap-in and removable Smarty “yoga legging liner” is a nice feature to create an all-weather option, although not necessary if you already have your favorite lower body baselayers.
Zippers on every pocket makes for safekeeping, and don’t take away from the streamlined look of the pants. I like the “glove hugger” feature on the left-side cargo pocket, and it made me realize how often I usually drop my gloves onto the snow when I am stopped and free my fingers for boot tightening or phone use.
The pants are easy to move in, too. The mesh-lined inner thigh vents let air in while keeping snow out. The upper legs have a slimmer (but not too slim) fit, but the lower leg widens to slide easily over boots. I ski, so I didn’t experience using the Boa lacing-system compatible gators and boot lace hook on each leg, designed to work with snowboard boots.
Like the pants, this jacket is designed with 686’s Smarty compatible technology, so that it can be worn as a top later, or converted into a mid-layer to wear with a 686 Smarty jacket. The front zipper is Smarty compatible, along with the center back neck and lower sleeves, where there are lining connection points.
On its own, it’s pretty warm with 600 down insulation, and it repels water, so it’s often all you need. Aesthetically, 686 says it’s a slim fit, but because of the semi-puffy down filling, it falls slightly boxy around the lower waist, so better for freedom of movement than a figure-flatterer.
The front right pocket has an audio cord port, but other than that, there aren’t any other special features or places to stash your pass, phone or money safely, with only two front pockets and none on the interior.
For more information and to order online, visit 686.com/products/women/outerwear.
Kim Fuller is a freelance writer based in Vail, Colorado.