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ProView – Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket + Bibs

I’ve been ski touring for about ten years now, and I began my professional journey into ski guiding and avalanche education over the past four years. During this time, I’ve spent a lot of time in snow pits, on snowmobiles, and in every type of weather the Pacific Northwest throws our way during a given winter. I’ve worked in pouring rain, gale force winds, single digit temps, nuking snow, and everything in between. It’s all part of the job, especially in the PNW. 

Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket + Bibs

Product Name: Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket + Bibs

Product Description: Evolved from our Skyward II styles, we built the new Skytour Kit for backcountry skiers and snowboarders who tour higher and further. Streamlined, function-first design and a new, lighter weight, AscentShell™ 3L stretch fabric make it perfect for human powered adventure.

Offer price: MSRP: $350.00 (per)

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Fit
    (5)
  • Durability
    (4)

Summary

All in all, I’m impressed with the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell jacket and bibs and can’t recommend them enough. It’s the best hardshell kit I’ve come across so far in my ski touring experience, and I know I’ll be putting many more days on them this winter, and in winter seasons to come. 

Overall
4.8

Pros

  • Soft
  • Flexible
  • Breathable fabric
  • FINALLY some good pockets on women’s ski pants

Cons

  • Need more room in the bib leg openings for walk mode

Yet, over the years of ski touring both recreationally and professionally, I’ve struggled to find apparel that meets my needs. I’ve stared in envy at male peers who can fit an AIARE field book in their pants pocket. Or an avalanche transceiver. I’ve purchased new pants, only to blow out the zippers within a few uses. I’ve had countless conversations with other women in the skintrack about this: why isn’t there a pair of women’s ski pants that can do it all? 

Well, I think Outdoor Research has come close to checking all the boxes with its new Skytour AscentShell bibs and jacket–making the combined kit a great option for wintertime ski touring. 

This season, winter made its grand entrance to Central Oregon in mid-December and I’ve been able to put in 19 days so far in this kit, including both recreational ski touring and a handful of working days. We started off the winter with a warm storm and a couple feet of heavy snow. Then, the temps dropped to the low teens and we got another couple feet of light, dry powder. Last week, the quintessential PNW cycle returned, dumping four feet of heavy snow in two days, followed by hurricane-force winds and rain, then another 8 inches or so of fluffy dust on crust. I wore the AscentShell bibs and jacket through it all and was impressed with how both performed. 

Skytour AscentShell Bibs

Love ‘em: One Gripe and One Wish

The bibs are comfortable–baggy and loose-fitting enough to allow unrestricted movement, with soft, breathable fabric. A couple things I really love: One, the fabric is quiet. While it’s windproof and waterproof, it doesn’t have the swish, swish sound of your typical hardshell. As someone who loves the muffled quiet of winter (especially in the trees on storm days), I love that the fabric is quiet. It also allows me to sneak up on my friends in the skintrack on morning dawn patrols (joking!).

My other favorite feature of the bibs is the zippered beacon pocket with a clip in the front chest pocket. It’s positioned in about the same place where a beacon would be if worn in a traditional harness. The only thing I’ve found that fits worse than most women’s ski pants is the standard beacon harness. I am incredibly grateful to the folks at OR who thought of placing a beacon pocket here. This also frees up the ample (also zippered) leg pockets for things like an AIARE field book, a slope meter, skin wax, chapstick, or my phone. I wouldn’t mind if the next version of these pants also contained a clip in one of the leg pockets, allowing TWO options for beacon carry. Hey, a girl can dream, right? 

My only gripe with the bibs–and it’s the same gripe I had with OR’s Hemisphere bibs–is that the leg openings are just barely wide enough to fit around my boots in walk mode. This means that when I’m transitioning, I have to really work the leg openings up over my boots to be able to access the buckles. It’s not a dealbreaker (and in my experience, almost no brands have gotten the leg opening right), but it is slightly annoying. A few centimeters of extra space, a zipper, or little more stretch would make these bibs an 11 out of 10.

 

Skytour AscentShell Jacket

Fave Features and One Small Complaint

The AscentShell jacket is made with the same soft, yet waterproof, windproof fabric as the bibs. It’s quite breathable, although I’ve gotten a little too hot while skiing uphill on warmer days, and I’ll definitely sweat while breaking trail in this thing. That said, this jacket shines when temps are in the low twenties or colder, when touring at “guide pace” (about 1500’ per hour), or when wrangling or driving snowmobiles.

I love the coverage (it covers my backside), and the overall baggy-but-not-too-loose fit. The hood is fantastic, as are the pockets. The only issue I’ve had with this jacket is that every time I zip it up the whole way (to cover my lower face or help keep the hood up in windy conditions), the zipper catches on the thin fabric on the inside near the top. I have to fiddle and yank on the fabric to pull it out of the zipper before being able to zip it the rest of the way. Maybe it’s user error, but this happens on just about every attempt to zip it up fully. Again, not a dealbreaker by any means, but slightly annoying–and I imagine that it will only be a matter of time until that nice soft fabric on the inside gets torn.

The Final Word

All in all, I’m impressed with the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell jacket and bibs and can’t recommend them enough. It’s the best hardshell kit I’ve come across so far in my ski touring experience, and I know I’ll be putting many more days on them this winter, and in winter seasons to come. 

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About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
alli miles
Alli Hartz

Alli Hartz works as an AIARE avalanche instructor and AMGA apprentice ski guide in Bend, Oregon. She skis almost every day from December until June, and spends the summer trail running with her dogs, Riggins and Firnspiegel. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @allimmmiles. 

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