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WIRED REVIEW: TREW GEAR LTD POWFISH JACKET

Sleek styling, on and off the slopes.

IT MAY BE a little late in the season to shop for snow gear, but try telling that to all the revelers playing in the late spring powder on Oregon’s Mount Hood. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re still enjoying plenty of fresh snow, enough for me to pack a few sandwiches and take out Trew Gear’s new LTD Powfish jacket for a spin.

At WIRED, we love TREW Gear. Their lightweight and stylish ski apparel works on both sunny days and in the wettest weather. The LTD Powfish is their first limited-edition collection that includes both hardgoods and softgoods. Everything, from their signature bibs to a ski and snowboard, is in a sleek and ninja-like black.

Fashion!

When everyone at your local coffee shop is wearing a stylish fleece or a down vest, it’s hard to remember that jackets like these were once considered highly technical apparel. The LTD Powfish is the first attempt that I’ve seen to make a technical ski or snowboarding jacket look like streetwear. And, in my opinion, Trew nailed it. As we headed to the lift line on our first run of the day, my friend turned to me, gave me the once-over, and announced, “I’ll trade you jackets at lunch.”

This jacket is cut to look like an insulated, waterproof parka. The matte black shell is soft and stretchy, without any of the stiff, wax-paper crinkling that I normally associate with winter shells.

The shell is a two-layer Dermizax, a waterproof, breathable membrane that is lighter and softer than the shells on other Trew Gear clothing. The Trew logo, thumbs-up, and powfish—drawn by artist and outdoor athlete Rachel Pohl—are printed in iridescent ink.

The jacket has vest insulation made from PrimaLoft Gold Active, a material designed for aerobic activities. It’s light and thin, and allows heat and moisture to escape. That means Trew had greater leeway when it came to picking a lining fabric. Instead of an airtight one, they picked a breathable, silky, woven nylon and spandex blend. It feels good to have bare skin against the lining of the jacket, rather than gross and clammy.

Also, I normally buy jackets a size larger to accommodate layers and to give me greater freedom of movement, but it was apparent that I didn’t need to do that with the Powfish. On my 5’2” frame, a medium was very loose, and long enough to sit on the jacket’s split fishtail hem on the lift. It doesn’t have a powder skirt.

The jacket has two hand pockets, a sleeve pocket for your lift ticket or season pass, and a chest pocket for your wallet and phone. The zip for the chest pocket is cleverly hidden under the zipper guard, and on the women’s version, the zippers and pulls are a bright and easy to see mint green. The jacket also has pit zips (two of them, in case you were curious), and a hood.

Wild is the Wind

On my first few runs, I wore both a heavy-weight wool base layer and another down jacket underneath the Powfish. It was hard to believe a jacket this light and fragile-seeming could possibly break 30-mph winds on the lift up to Timberline Lodge’s Miracle Mile. Fortunately, it did. My butt and I were warm, and I could cinch the hood over my helmet.

I was also concerned by the lack of a powder skirt, particularly since I had on regular snow pants and not one of Trew’s bibs. When I reached out to Trew, they noted that the lack of the powder skirt lets the jacket more easily transition to streetwear, and the length of the jacket should compensate. I was skeptical, but on a day with about six inches of fresh snow, I only got snow up my back once, while following some skiers on an ill-considered off-piste tree run.

The soft, stretchy jacket did allow for plenty of motion through the upper body while swooping up, down and around my favorite run at Timberline—a long, deep gully known as the Bone Zone. I could twist, turn, hop and spin to my heart’s delight.

Just to use it as it was intended, I also wore the jacket around town, while hiking, and I carried it with me on spring break. It worked nicely as a waterproof, insulated anorak while trekking through the rainy Oregon woods. That said, I did find the high collar to be annoying when not on the slopes.

But it was especially convenient while traveling. It weighs a little over a pound and packed down into the front pocket of my carry-on suitcase. Although it was 65 degrees when we landed on the East Coast, I was happy to have it with me when a record-breaking snowstorm unexpectedly hit just a few days later.

Skinny jeans became popular more than a decade ago, but I have yet to embrace a more form-fitting aesthetic when it comes to snowboard wear. Tight jackets suck. They ride up over your hips, and you can’t layer underneath them. The harder I try to look trim and sleek, the more I end up looking like an immobile, overstuffed sausage.

The Trew LTD Powfish was my first foray into fashionable snowboarding attire, and I consider it a success. If you’re looking to up your snowboarding apparel game, try soft and stretchy jackets instead of form-fitting ones! As good as it is on the slopes, this Trew jacket won't look bad on the back of a barstool après ski, either.

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