Strafe Women’s Clothing Overview — High Performance Ski Touring

Post by blogger | December 11, 2017      
Strafe Incubator jacket: ready, set, go.

Strafe Incubator jacket: ready, set, go.

Despite the mayor’s desire to make Aspen a hub for the backcountry industry, high rents, expensive housing, limited labor pool, etc., etc., make it a challenge to do business in the swanky mountain town. Thus, we applaud those who go for it and cross our fingers they’ll make it. The exceptional few survive; one way they beat the odds is by offering superior product.

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. Contact them about Strafe.)

Case in point: Strafe Outerwear, owned and operated by Aspen hardmen and endurance athletes, Pete and John Gaston. In 2009 they began developing technical clothing for skiing hard and moving efficiently during long days in the mountains. By 2011 they established digs at the base of Aspen Highlands resort. Now entering the 2017/2018 season, their shop showcases a full men and women’s line, good for backcountry skiing and touring mountains far and near.

Lou reviewed the men’s line here. The WildSnow Girls took notice and recently nabbed a test ensemble. First look impression: thumbs up.

This review, Strafe women’s ensemble
Insulation: Incubator Jacket
Shell: Meadow Jacket
Pants: Scarlett Bib

Strafe Incubator Jacket

Strafe Incubator is a mid-weight jacket filled with Primaloft Gold. We especially liked the longer, flattering bodice, tapered to eliminate the Pillsbury Doughboy look. The large hood fits easily over a helmet. Arms are designed with ample length for longer wingspans. A large interior mesh pocket measures 9 inches wide by 10.5 inches high — roomy enough for climbing skins or a big sandwich.

Other features: two exterior zippered pockets, small interior chest pocket, stetchy Lycra cuffs, and hem drawcord.

Incubator is designed for performance activities. The jacket kept me warm skiing laps, but it’s not the huge puffy that will roast you in subzero temps. Nor is it a “belay” parka that’ll keep you warm inactive in chilly weather.

Athletic fit runs true to size. Our test piece is a size small. My bod is small/medium: 5’6″, 120 pounds, arm length (shoulder to wrist) 25″ (jacket sleeve measures 27 inches which includes 1″ of Lycra cuff.

Strafe Incubator jacket specs:

  • Insulation: Primaloft Gold, 100gm body, 60gm sleeves/hood
  • Lining and face fabric: nylon micro ripstock
  • Available sizes: XS-XL
  • Available colors: Pirate black with aqua zipper, hot coral with indigo zipper, indigo with pesto zipper
  • MSRP: $245
  • Large inside mesh pocket.

    Large inside mesh pocket.

    Ample hood to cover ball cap or helmet.

    Ample hood to cover trucker hap or helmet.

    Strafe Scarlett Bib

    Women’s ski bibs are a tricky design challenge. Wearing bib pants is nice for sailing thru deep pow, but when nature calls an efficient design for relief is difficult to find. Strafe offers a nifty solution with their halter design and side zip system: unzip, bend over and behold. Or actually, don’t behold — this configuration is discreet, you stay warm and the act gets done with minimal fuss.

    Pop-a-squat, halter top makes it work.

    Pop-a-squat, halter top makes it work.

    The upper back of the Scarlett features thin 4-way stretch, Nylon/Spandex panel. Fully seam sealed, zippered front pocket with interior electronics mesh sleeve, hamstring vents, thigh pockets, DWR coated 4-way stretch powder cuffs, internal Cordura scuff guards, and Cordura hem guards.

    Scarlett bib, halter top and front mesh pocket.

    Scarlett bib with halter top. Front pocket is lined with mesh and doubles as a small opening for ventilation.

    DWR coated 4-way stretch inner cuffs with gripper elastic.

    Interior cuff: DWR coated 4-way stretch with gripper elastic.

    Top down zippered cooling vents.

    Top down zippered cooling vents.

    Strafe Scarlett bib specs:

  • Fabric: 3L waterproof, breathable plain weave with eVent membrane
  • Trim fabrics: DWR coated plain weave 4-way stretch, 89% nylon/11% Spandex in back panel, thigh pocket bags and powder cuffs
  • Available sizes: XS-XL
  • Available colors: gold, amalfi (blue), black, purple
  • MSRP: $469
  • Strafe Meadow Jacket

    Strafe Meadow jacket.

    Strafe Meadow jacket.

    Strafe Meadow jacket is a lightweight hard-shell made with waterproof/breathable eVent membrane technology. We like lightweight shells here at WildSnow, they pack nicely and the high tech fabrics keep us dry inside and out. As with all lightweight materials, these are not as durable as heavy duty surfaces, but the weight savings and packability make it a worthwhile tradeoff for many ski tourers.

    One feature we’d eliminate are the underarm vents. They are useful when you’re hiking in the warm and wet, but for our mild climate in Colorado, we find that the breathable fabric is sufficient for keeping us dry on the inside. Yeah yeah, we know some of you swear by pit zips. Debate in the comments, we’d love to hear your latest thoughts on the age old issue.

    We like big inside pockets and often find that with women’s gear the pockets get downsized to the point of being useless. (Can you say “victim of fashion?”) The inside pocket of the Meadow is smaller than the roomy pocket of the Incubator. Our preference would be to have it at least as large.

    Meadow jacket, inside pocket.

    Meadow jacket, inside pocket.

    Strafe Meadow jacket specs:

  • Fully seam sealed
  • Large hood, helmet compatible
  • Magnet snap closure at collar
  • Chamois fleece lined collar and chin guard
  • Underarm vents
  • Fabric: 3L waterproof/breathable plain weave with eVent membrane
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colors: purple, black, gold
  • MSRP: $499
  • Strafe website


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    11 Responses to “Strafe Women’s Clothing Overview — High Performance Ski Touring”

    1. wingnut December 11th, 2017 9:37 am

      I’m curious about the opinion on the mid layer hood. I’ve gone back and forth on whether to use a mid layer with a hood. On the plus side, it adds versatility, on the con side, there is a hood pile up with a hooded outer layer.

    2. atfred December 11th, 2017 10:54 am

      I agree that the hood pile up can be a nuisance, but I think it’s outweighed by the convenience of having a hood to pull up when the wind picks up, without having to stop and pull out a shell.

      To minimize hood pile up, it would be nice if more softshell jackets came with close fitting hoods; i.e., not helmet compatible (I don’t use one in the backcountry).

    3. wtofd December 11th, 2017 12:11 pm

      The vest is the only layer without a hood. Hoods on everything else for the convenience on the uphill and the warmth benefits in case of emergency.

      But,agreed, I don’t like the pile up.

    4. Lou Dawson 2 December 11th, 2017 12:49 pm

      I prefer minimal number of hoods, during winter Iike one on base layer and one on hardshell, everything between, no hood. In spring conditions, something like that but I don’t find myself wanting even if the base layer hood is missing. Lou

    5. Jim Milstein December 11th, 2017 5:16 pm

      I’m a three-hood kind of skier. 1. Thin wool base layer with snug hood for under the helmet. 2. Next layer, also thin with loose hood for under helmet when really cold or over helmet to slow cold breezes. 3. Jacket with ample hood for over the helmet protection in adverse conditions. For bitter weather add a fleece layer (no hood) under the parka. In the pack there is always a hooded down jacket for emergencies or just extended inactivity. No more hats while skiing –– too fiddly.

      Okay, I concede that a helmet is a kind of hat. But it’s a special magic talisman to protect me from dashing my brains out on rocks and trees, and its magical powers are only active while it’s worn; so I wear it all day, up and down.

    6. atfred December 11th, 2017 8:44 pm

      I’ve also found that a “Buff” can work pretty well as a hood when pulled up over a hat.
      I always carry two.

    7. Jim Milstein December 11th, 2017 9:30 pm

      The minimal number of hoods, Lou, would be zero, yes?

    8. japhy December 11th, 2017 11:20 pm

      Jus t curious, anyone know where this clothing is manufactured?

    9. Lisa Dawson December 13th, 2017 10:58 am

      The clothes are designed in Aspen and manufactured in Vietnam. Strafe had some of the baselayers manufactured locally but the sewing business they used went out of business. Strafe is currently looking for other local manufacturing options.

    10. Lisa Dawson December 13th, 2017 5:43 pm

      Strafe sent me info about their manufacturing partners:

      “As most other major outerwear brands (TNF, Patagonia etc) we produce all our outerwear in Vietnam. We believe that suppliers in Vietnam are at the forefront of producing high end seam-sealed and technical garments and at the same time provide good, clean working environments for their staff. We have visited our factory multiple times and feel confident that we are working with an owner and supplier who maintains a safe and clean environment and also treats their staff well.”

    11. Lisa Dawson December 13th, 2017 5:51 pm

      Regarding my pet peeve about the small inner pocket on the Meadow Jacket, Strafe explained that they, too, like inner pockets as big as possible. The inner mesh pocket on the Meadow Jacket is smaller because of space available on the women’s garment. The interior drop pocket is sized the way it is because the panel that it is attached to (backside of hand pocket) is quite small due to the nature of a small women’s jacket. The mesh pocket is all the way to the seams and there are no other double layer areas where a larger mesh pocket could be attached. A larger mesh pocket isn’t possible on this style due to hand and chest pocket size and configuration.

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