Editor’s note from Lou: I got back from Europe last night. Landed in Salt Lake City so I’m strategically positioned for the Outdoor Retailer trade show, otherwise known as the Temple of Gear (all hail). To that end, I thought we’d fire up a few gear reviews we’ve got waiting in the wings. That way I get a few hours breather from blogging while I check out what’s new. But don’t despair, I’ve got more trip reports from Europe, plus more Scarpa and Dynafit stuff from the old country. For now, here is something from Jason, one of the now grown mountain boys who’s been around WildSnow HQ since he was a tot.
I’ve been testing the GoLite Pinyon Ridge synthetic jacket as a replacement for carrying around a heavyweight fleece layer. Mostly for backcountry skiing, but it’ll probably end up being used during elk chasing and other mountain activities. I’m happy with the changeover.
The Pinyon packs smaller in the backpack and weighs less than a fleece per unit warmth. Although it slightly heavier than a down alternative, it insulates even if it gets wet. (Yes, Virginia, there is a reason famed alpinist Steve House uses a synthetic puffy instead of down.) The jacket has “zonal” insulation, simply a fancy word for placing thicker insulation in the torso and less in the sleeves. Building this way can reduce weight and bulk a bit , so good, but I don’t think it’s that big a deal.
Whoever designed this jacket did a good job for tall low-fat guys like me, e.g., the length in the sleeves and the torso is a little longer than most other synthetic shells I’ve tried, and the torso cut is slim. A fit like that looks nice (have I progressed past the XXL look?) and also provides better warming than a jacket that is too big in the chest.
Pinyon comes armed with YKK zippers (nothing better), and three good, zippered, pocket placements (two slash pockets and a chest pocket) for your trinkets.
The hood is detachable! If you don’t like it, take it off. As most of you backcountry skiing Wildersnowers seem to always want to know, yes, the hood fits a helmet, it’s thus a bit large when used on a helmet-less head, but still works.
Only downside, you have to be careful because the exterior of the jacket is lightweight polyester and will tear easily if snagged on a tree branch or ski pole. That said, this is synthetic so a tear is only an aesthetic issue — you’re not going to spray feathers like you do when you tear a down puffy. Also, I feel a jacket like this is a layering piece, so in my scheme, it’ll be under a more beefy shell much of the time.
I tested the Pinyon on a couple tours so far involving some good skinning, skiing and snowmobiling and don’t have any complaints. It insulates. I’m a happy guy. This one is staying in the quiver or on the bod.