From Atomic to Burton, Mountain Hardwear to Marmot, Dynastar to Montane, and companies everywhere in between, almost every brand now is utilizing advanced fabric and fiber technologies focusing on light weight, stretch and breathability that continue to push apparel and outerwear momentum in consumers' favor.   When just a few years ago only a handful of companies were utilizing such game-changing fabrics as Pertex Quantum, combing durability and extreme lightweight to house a variety of natural and synthetic insulations, now these kinds of ultralight, breathable materials are in nearly every line, both branded and proprietary.  And while natural down and PrimaLoft pretty much ruled the roost when it came to insulation, consumers now have a multitude of waterproof-down options, more synthetics to choose from such as Polartec Alpha, as well as combinations of down and synthetic in the same baffles. That's not even accounting for the dozens of progressive body mapping options coming onto the market, strategically mixing stretch with insulation in fleece, wool, down and synthetic stuffing.  Advanced functionality aside, style and brand story also continue to be key sales drivers. “Let’s face it…people not only want a jacket that is going to protect them from the elements, but they also want to look good,” said Bergans of Norway VP of sales and marketing Keith Patterson.” And style isn’t all about color. A well thought-out fit is a driving force. Consumers want outdoor apparel that fits not only their lifestyle, but their bodies as well.”  Recycled fabrics and Bluesign certification are no longer the keywords coming from manufacturers this season, but Traceable Down is, thanks in large part to Patagonia, as well as the evolving Higg Index of footprint tracking from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition now in use by The North Face (VF Corp.), Columbia Sportswear, the adidas Group and other top players in a massive global outerwear market-system.  

“Patagonia, REI, The North Face and Prana are all Bluesign partners; that means they are committed to one-day having a Bluesign certified supply chain,” said Schoeller textile's Shannon Walton. “Bluesign is the most strict certification in the textile industry worldwide. A lot of brands use Okeotex or other certifications like the Eco-index because it's a whole lot cheaper. As more factories are going for Bluesign certification – because in the long run it's very cost effective and allows them to work with these brands – we will hear more about it.” According to Walton, Bluesign said the average mill saves $1 million in the first year employing these ecological practices.  Yes, the products have gotten more expensive. But consumers really are getting more versatility for their money, and hopefully more years of use as well, especially given the competitive pressure to warranty these high-tech garments. And with the soaring price of down, the introduction of down-blends may help save money and hopefully increase performance in the long run.  Here's a look at some of the top performers for 2014.  Adidas Outdoor is making a full play into PrimaLoft down blends as well as continuing the Millennial styling and zoned construction the young brand has become known for. The Terrex Climaheat Ice Jacket for men and women at $350 features PrimaLoft Down Gold (70% goose down/30% PrimaLoft) insulation for warmth without bulk in an athletic fit. Treated hydrophobic goose down is breathable and packable; and there's a partial Cocona lining for moisture management, as this jacket is meant to be put to the test. PrimaLoft insulated stretch inserts enhance freedom of movement. Also features inner sleeve cuffs, fully adjustable hood, chest zip pocket, differential baffle construction, and the requisite translucent reflective three stripes.  The Terrex Swift Climaheat Frost Jacket, $225 men's; $195 women's, utilizes PrimaLoft Down Silver, (60% duck down/40% PrimaLoft), a durable water-resistant technology with lasting warmth in wet-weather conditions. Features an Elasthane drawcord at hem and cuffs and fully adjustable hood for maximum weather protection; as well as zip hand-pockets and inner security pocket.  The Terrex Skyclimb 2 Jacket for women at $145 features PrimaLoft insulated sections covered with a lightweight nylon woven fabric and Formotion four-way stretch for freedom of movement. Thumb loops, reflective decorative elements and an athletic fit complete the picture.  In true new school fashion, the Hiking Long Sleeve Men’s Jacket, $135, features PrimaLoft insulation for warmth and comfort, snap buttons, discreet zip hand pockets and inner security pocket.  

Bergans is an example of one of the leading European outerwear brands chomping away at a piece of the North American market. They're launching their Slingsby line of ski touring and mountaineering products at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, which includes a system of shells, softshells, down pieces, and mid-layers (eight in total for men and women) as well as ski packs (34, 26 and 18 L). The line is named after William Cecil Slingsby, a British alpine mountaineer who helped popularize the sport in Norway in the early 1900s (Bergans was founded in 1908).  “At Bergans, we believe in designing apparel that not only withstands the harshest of environments, but also fits incredibly well. Colors are moving back to subdued tones, but not quite as earthy as they did before. We see a symbiotic use of subdued jewel tones (plums, mid-greens, maroons, deep yellow) matched with pop accents (pinks, bright reds and limes). And these combinations make for striking garments,” explained Bergans' Patterson. “With our focus on breathability, we are expanding our use of Toray’s Dermizax NX waterproof/breathable membrane. We are also expanding our use of Pontetorto’s SportSystem with their NoWind windproof fleece in combination with their Techno stretch fleece to make a low weight, minimum pack size insulation layer.”  The Storen Men’s and Women’s Jacket, $499, is a lightweight work horse for skiing and climbing. Made of three-layer Dermizax NX waterproof/windproof breathable membrane and durable, two-way stretch nylon outer fabric with laser cut and welded seams, it features a helmet-compatible hood, two-way Radio Link compatible chest pocket, front pockets designed not to interfere with a hip belt, and long underarm vent zips. The Storen Men’s and Women’s Pant, $419, is also made of three-layer Dermizax NX for a supple, waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane specifically developed for ski touring with low weight and minimal packing volume.  The Uranostind Men’s and Women’s Ski Touring Jacket, $209, `is a progressive piece made of windproof and water-repellent Pertex Microlight and PrimaLoft Gold Insulation. It’s lightweight/packable, designed for use as a resting jacket and underneath a shell on cold days. It has an extra high collar and extra insulation on the women’s model. Front pockets act as compression pockets and articulated elbows add freedom of movement.  The Slingsbytind Men’s and Women’s Down Jacket, $249,  is made of windproof and water-repellent Pertex Microlight, easily compressible as reinforcement or for stand-alone use on ski tours. The chest pocket functions as a compression pocket and down is mapped for body heat.  The Osatind Ski Touring Pant for Men and Women, $179, is a new softshell, wind and water-repellent four-way pant. Moisture wicking and quick-drying, they feature internal detachable gaiters, front mesh pockets, thigh zips, high-waisted back panels, belt loops, detachable suspenders, zip gussets for adjusting leg widths, and beacon-compatible thigh pockets.  

From technical leader Black Diamond, continuing the build-out on its apparel category plan, comes the Front Point Shell, Black Diamond’s most durable three-layer, Gore-Tex Pro jacket. Features include embedded Cohaesive hardware (concealed cord-lock technology bonded directly to the fabric for quick and intuitive adjustments) zippered hand and chest pockets, an internal stretch media pocket, and two-way armpit vents. It's finished out with expanding chest pockets, adjustable hood and microsuede collar at a weight of 535g.  The new Sharp End Shell is Black Diamond’s lightweight Gore-Tex Pro hooded jacket with an emphasis on packability, yet retaining functionality and durability for extended use in alpine conditions. The Sharp End also features embedded Cohaesive hardware, zippered hand and chest pockets, pit zips and internal stretch media pocket at 455g.  The Induction Shell features hybrid design ideal for alpine climbing, ski mountaineering and other high-output pursuits. It's a minimal design with zippered chest pockets, low-profile stretch-panel cuffs and fully taped construction at 496g.  The windproof Women’s Flow State Hoody is a lightweight layer designed to maintain a comfortable microclimate across variable conditions. Three-layer Windstopper Soft Shell fabric provides breathable protection while the form-fitting hood and zippered hand pockets offer further refuge at 360g.  The pinnacle Hot Forge Hoody for men and women is a warm, packable mid-layer as well as easily deployable insurance against sudden temperature drops. The new PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend features 70 percent high-loft, weather-treated goose down and 30 percent ultra-fine PrimaLoft fibers for a compressible, durable fill that’s water repellant and stays warm when wet. With a trim fit and lightweight Pertex Quantum shell fabric, the Hot Forge layers easily while maintaining full range of motion on cold, aerobic days. Features adjustable hood, zip chest pocket, hand pockets, internal drop storage pockets and stretch gusseted cuffs at 460g.   

From core mountaineering brand Brooks Range comes the Ultimate Brisa Jacket, $299, specializing in protection and breathability by featuring Polartec Alpha insulation in the body, and Polartec Power Dry in the arms for moisture wicking and movement.   The new Isto Hoody, $250, has a brushed tricot backing to wick moisture from the body. The lightweight, four-way stretch nylon allows the user to move with ease and the addition of a hood keeps the elements at bay.   

“Carhartt has been involved with the Outdoor Retailer show since its earliest years of inception,” said Carhartt VP of sales, Steve Carter. “OR is Carhartt’s largest tradeshow, that puts us closest in touch with our outdoor retail partners. It also is the one show that brings together our many business areas under one roof including product design, marketing, retail and sales to meet with our key trade and retail accounts.”  The company's new Lumberport Ripstop Pant, $60, will resonate with outdoor consumers as it resists rips and tears and features proprietary Rain Defender DWR finish and Stain Breaker technology (releases stains in the wash). High-stretch, nylon-lined front ledge pockets are tough and there's a removable nylon utility pouch that can be worn on either the right or left side.  “Making lightweight product that is just as durable as its heavyweight counterpart, but can also withstand all and any elements that mother nature has to offer, Carhartt owns durability when it comes to making gear that works on the job and in the woods and we have some great new lightweight outerwear launching for Fall 2014 with our signature DWR Rain Defender technology,” Carter said.  

Industry icon Columbia Sportswear is not only introducing its own down-synthetic blend for Fall 2014, but also is building on its substantial outerwear innovations from last year. The new Parallel Grid Jacket for Men and Women, $250, features the now omni-present Omni-Heat thermal reflective liner and insulation, Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable fabric (seam sealed); as well as alpine features such as pass pocket, media pocket, compatible/removable hood, powder skirt, comfort cuff and more.   Continuing its commitment to versatility, Columbia introduces the Northwest Traveler Men’s Interchange Jacket, $240, again featuring Omni-Heat and Omni-Tech. It has a zip and clip-in Interchange System liner jacket, attached hood, drawcord, zippered pockets, drop tail and shaped adjustable cuffs. It’s ideal for the all-around outdoorsman or commuter.   Women get a special layering piece for Fall 2014 in the Chelsea Station Vest,  $120. This fashion-forward item features Omni-Heat reflective liner and insulation (100 g), water resistant fabric, hand pockets, tall collar and stylish waistband.  

“We are leaders of technical innovation, we are a product driven company. We’re willing to try and sometimes fail to get what we want,” said Marmot brand ambassador Jordan Campbell. “That’s what innovation and leadership in the industry takes.”  And according to Campbell, the big story from Marmot this year – in addition to the celebration of its 40th anniversary – is Polartec Alpha insulation (which the company believes has an unprecedented range of comfort for cold weather active use), down body-mapping, and specifically the Megawatt, $300; Weight: 718.7g, hybrid down and active insulation jacket. Lightweight miracle fabric Pertex compliments the water-resistant 800-fill Down Defender in hood and torso. With a DriClime mesh lining, it's the pinnacle of Marmot's years-long effort to achieve moisture transport through insulation.  “The new TRP (Transport Regulate Protect) system represents a huge step forward in contemporary clothing and layering systems,” explained Brian LaPlante, Marmot’s category manager, Outerwear . “TRP is integrated and can be tailored to each individual’s personal needs for their intended end use. The result is an overall layering system that is lighter in weight, more compactable, and has a wider comfort range.”  The Thermo Stretch Hoody, $200,  (in the new Mountain Pro Category) features Polartec Power Stretch Pro sleeves and back, Polartec Power Dry underarm thermo-regulating panels, attached hood with integrated vent, flat lock construction, asymmetrical CF zipper, Napoleon chest pockets, and asymmetric cuffs with thumb holes at 496.1g.  The Misto Jacket, $375, is the softshell big gun for the season featuring angel wing movement, asymmetric cuffs, draw cord, storm hood and more. It's made with Polartec Neo Shell, Polartec Power Shield and Polartec Alpha insulation at 770g.  The new Marmot's Men’s Boot Pack Jacket, $275, features proprietary NanoPro two-layer waterproof/breathable fabric, and 100 percent seam taped. Also features PitZips, attached helmet compatiable storm hood with laminated brim and chest/sleeve/handwarmer/goggle pockets and angel wing movement. “The Boot Pack Jacket brings our NanoPro technology, with its dynamic air permeability, to snowsports – offering superior comfort for backcountry and sidecountry skiing and a moisture transport system better than it’s ever been before.” said LaPlante.  Adding to Marmot's glove collection is the Cataclysm Undercuff Glove, $100, featuring out-finished seams, DriClime three-dimentional wicking lining, Reinforcement Washable Leather, Polartec Alpha insulation, and palm padding.   

UK-based Montane is continuing its two decades of innovation by introducing new outerwear for trail running, fast alpine, climbing, ski mountaineering and the full range of endurance mountain sports.  The technical waterproof/insulated Mountain Hybrid Jacket, $399, is designed for a full range of endurance mountain sports featuring Pertex Shield+ for breathability and 60g PrimaLoft Silver Eco insulation for packable, fast drying warmth.  Built from the breathable, waterproof, durable eVent lightweight three-layer fabric, the Alpine Endurance Jacket, $499, will be available for women as well as men in Fall 2014. It provides protection and versatility asked for by serious mountain enthusiasts. It has a comprehensive pocket configuration, is technically constructed and allows dynamic body movement and winter layering.    The new Chonos Ultra Down Jacket, $439,  (800+ Goose down 90/10 250g / certified non-live plucked/non force-fed down), is an ultra-lightweight winter alpine down jacket offering low weight/low bulk weather protection and warmth for cold conditions. Pertex Quantum Y Yarn offers enhanced down-proofness and tear strength, with water repellency added by Super 100 DWR.  For those who prefer synthetic, the Alpha 100 Jacket, $284, is extremely packable and highly breathable winter insulation for cold mountain activities. Constructed from lightweight Pertex Quantum Matte and Polartec Alpha 100g insulation throughout.

While in the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Ballroom, keep eyes peeled for the ground breaking Flux Micro Jacket made with Pertex Classic Eco and PrimaLoft Silver Eco, $135; as well as the super tough and durable technical mountain Super Terra Pants constructed from Granite and Cordura fabrics, $169.  

With 20 years of innovation in the rearview mirror, Mountain Hardwear introduces a full line of outerwear improvements for Fall 2014, with the focus on several key technologies and styles.  The Torsun Jacket for men and women at $350 is the newest piece for high-intensity high-alpine activity, featuring three-layer construction and top-of-the-line mobility through articulation. The Torsun features MH’s Dry.Q Elite waterproof/breathable technology, helmet-compatible hood with wire brim and weighs in at 1lb, 1oz.   The men’s Minalist Jacket, $400, is a contemporary backcountry ski shell also featuring Dry.Q Elite proprietary W/B technology. There’s a removable powder skirt, three-way hood, athletic articulation and pack-compatible pockets. The Shell Pant, $325, is equally as durable with Ripstop 3L Dry.Q Elite GE fabric.   The women’s Barnsie Jacket, $275, adds a stylish pattern to top-notch technology. It features proprieatry Dry.Q Core W/B fabric with Thermal.Q insulation, an attached hood, hand warmer pockets and a full-length center placket with Velcro storm flap.   The company is stoked on its men’s Super Compressor Hooded Jacket, $295, featuring 100gms of Thermal.Q Elite insulation baffled with new construction techniques. Features PU zip hand warmer pockets out of the way of pack or harness, helmet-compatible hood and weighs just one pound.  Mountain Hardwear’s new Hydra Pro Glove with OutDry waterproof technology and Thermal.Q Elite insulation, offers goat-skin palms and adjustable neoprene cuff, wrap-around finger design and biner loop.  

VF’s The North Face has a number of strong offerings for the upcoming season, including building on already well-received proprietary technologies in down, synthetic insulation and fabrics.  The men’s Fuse Uno Jacket, $399, with new FuseForm construction utilizes advanced manufacturing techniques that make it possible to weave two material properties into a single fabric. This first-in-its-kind construction allows for a single piece of Hyvent Alpha fabric and cuts down on the number of seams, reducing weight (average 351g) and bulk while improving performance and durability. The new men’s Irondome Jacket, $299, is designed to be worn as both a mid- and outer- layer, built with ultra-durable, high-tenacity nylon fabric overlays in high-abrasion areas, and insulated with 700 fill ProDown with an average weight of 450g.  The men’s Fuse Brigandine Jacket, $499; Pant, $399, features HyVent Alpha with FuseForm construction that seamlessly reinforces high-wear areas in this alpine kit.  The women’s Tight Ship Insulated Jacket, $249, is a new athlete favorite available in several colorways and is expected to be a key style for Fall 2014.   The new men’s Quantum Pullover Hoodie, $65, takes the athletic hoodie to a higher level with embossed details, modern lines and durable, pill-resistant stretch fleece.  

Bringing to market a new fabric technology, the Trickshot Jacket, $425, and Pants, $350,  for men and women from Outdoor Research are ski-focused waterproof softshells that meld an uphill feature set with downhill durability and style. New Pertex Shield+ Softshell, co-developed by Pertex and Outdoor Research, combines a stretchy, durable softshell exterior, a waterproof Pertex laminate, and a warm grid-fleece backer inside into one waterproof and breathable layer. Jacket details include goggle wipe with tether, removable powder skirt with LockDown technology that integrates with the pants, ThumbDrive wrist closures that integrate with undercuff gloves, an internal Shove-It pocket, and helmet-compatible hood. In the pants, finer points include an avalanche beacon pocket with clip-in retention, reinforced scuff guards, and stretch-mesh internal gaiters with ski boot power strap slots.  Outdoor Research’s new White Room Jacket and Pants pair a stretchy, waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex softshell fabric with a polyester flannel backing for warmth and comfort on the inside. Unique CrossFlo chest-to-hip zippers on the jacket allow quick ventilation while wearing a pack, and pants feature inner and outer thigh vents. LockDown technology offers a way to connect the removable powder skirt to the pants and ThumbDrive cuff construction on the jacket adjusts the tightness of the cuff or can be converted to a thumb loop for compatibility with undercuff gloves.  Representing Outdoor Research’s next generation in layering technology, the Superlayer Jacket, $225, melds the warmth of a synthetic puffy with breathability and moisture transport, creating a mid-layer that can be worn through a range of cold-weather aerobic activities. Construction features Primaloft Silver continuous-filament insulation, which allows insulation to stay in place without extensive construction techniques and opens the door to pairing fabrics that allow more effective moisture transport. A woven mesh lining wicks moisture while a single-weave stretch-woven softshell face allows it to escape (while providing light wind and weather protection).  Featuring new ALTIheat technology, Outdoor Research said its Gore-Tex Lucent Heated Gloves, $350, have 61 percent more power output than any other heated glove combined with twice as much heated surface area. Other improvements include heating elements integrated into the interior fabric rather than wire-based technology, as well as heated areas on both the fingers and back of hand, a fleece palm lining, molded EVA foam knuckles, and abrasion-resistant goat leather on the palms. Customizable settings offer three different heat levels, with battery life of eight hours on low. Rechargeable batteries are located in the underside of the gauntlet. Includes carrying case and three adapters for worldwide use.  

For Fall/Winter 2014 Patagonia will continue to focus on quality of craftsmanship as well as its continued environmental leadership.   Patagonia Snow remains an important category and its new campaign, Find Away, is inspired by “early mornings, late nights and the anticipating of the next weather cycle.” The PowSlayer Jacket and Pant gets an update for men with a new, lighter-weight Gore-Tex fabric, updated pocket placement and fit. The company is also introducing the new Women's PowSlayer Jacket and Bib.  Also new is a selection of snow-specific mid-layers, including the Hybrid Down Jacket, Hybrid Down Vest and Hybrid Fleece Jacket. Lightweight and packable, these products provide warmth, breathability and stretch. Pieces are longer with a slightly relaxed fit.  Patagonia's key technology story for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is Nano-Air. The new Nano-Air Jacket and Hoody deliver the ultimate insulation combination – four-way stretch plus breathability. By placing Patagonia's new FullRange Insulation, developed by Toray, between lightweight durable shell and liner fabrics, the company believes it has created an insulated product unlike anything else on the market. “Alpine climbing is different than most sports in the sense that you are constantly either going full-out or at a complete stop,” said Patagonia alpine ambassador Josh Wharton. “With a traditional high-loft insulation layer you are usually taking the jacket on and off, but with the new Nano-Air Jacket, you can keep it on throughout the day.”  Fall/Winter 2014 also marks the first season where Patagonia achieves 100 percent traceability across all down-insulated products. Traceable Down guarantees third-party certified, ethically sourced down from suppliers who do not engage in force-feeding or live plucking. Every Patagonia down garment is an example of supply chain accountability from farm to factory.   In Alpine/Technical, the new Dimensions Jacket uses Gore Windstopper hybridized with stretch-woven soft shell for comfort throughout the day. Other key new products include the Down Shirt – minimalized traceable-down insulation in a 100 percent recycled shell; and the new Fitz Roy Down Parka and Jacket – a fully baffled parka with details adopted from the Encapsil Belay Parka, insulated with 800-fill traceable down in lightweight nylon fabric.  

Salomon once again is coming forward with nearly two-dozen new offerings for this year’s buying season. The pinnacle men’s and women’s Soulquest BC GTX 3L Jacket, $600, and Pants, $500 are a highly technical set featuring MOTIONfit technology and Gore-Tex Pro three-layer protection. The jacket features a relaxed fit, fixed hood, taped seams, cuff with thumb loop and removable powder skirt; snaps in to pant. (Also available for women at 640 grams.)  The Soulquest BC Down Jacket, $550 men’s and women’s, is a warm, protective big mountain parka combining Smartskin construction (to keep the right insulation in each zone, while moving with you). It’s a high performance backcountry jacket that features a mix of DWR down and fiberfill insulation designed in collaboration with pro skiers. Features include MOTIONfit technology, Pertex Shield fabric, taped seams, fitted hood, harness and pack compatibility and more at 730 grams.  Another key offering is the men’s and women’s Whitemount GTX MOTIONfit Jacket, $600, and Pant, $350, combo, with Gore-Tex weather protection, PrimaLoft insulation and MOTIONfit technology. This is a high-performance insulated jacket with efficient moisture wicking and 3D stretch lining. Features a zip-off hood, powderskirt system, taped seams and Advanced skin Active Dry at 900 grams.  

Sherpa Adventure Gear’s multi-layer system apparel is second-to-none, pairing authentic high-alpine testing with branded fabrics to bring all mountain athletes something beautiful and trustworthy.    Sherpa’s new Vayu PriMerino base layer collection features PrimaLoft’s new Silver Performance Yarn Merino Wool Blend to create a next-to-skin layer that enhances comfort and dry time. The Vayu Zip Tee, $99, is one of ten styles for men and women in the collection. It features a quarter zip for ventilation, a performance fit and reversed flat seams to reduce chafing. The blend of thin PrimaLoft One and Merino wool fibers is said to dry 20 percent faster than wool does on its own. Sherpa is also introducing PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Down Blend in its Men’s and Women’s Nangpala Hooded Down Jacket $259.  Sherpa uses two eVent fabrics in its new men’s Pertemba Jacket, $399, for the best breathability in a shell for start and stop activities. Key features include removable powder skirt, helmet-compatible hood with one-handed cinch, and seams/pockets that won’t interfere with a pack or harness.  The limited edition Kritipur Sweater Jacket, $249, combines the tradition and beauty of a hand-knit wool sweater with the modern insulating power of PrimaLoft One.  This collector’s piece helps provide employment to women in the small village of Kritipur, Nepal, where they are knit.  Details include a collared, adjustable hood and internal cuffs to seal in heat.  

New for Fall 2014 is the Sierra Designs DriDown Hoody, $199, a lightweight, hooded jacket stuffed with 800-fill hydrophobic DriDown, and a light PU-coating on the inside of the shell to block wind and shed moisture and help draw moisture vapor through the insulation to the exterior of the jacket. A hat-compatible hood fits snugly and cinches with the front zipper. The uniquely designed, 600-fill power DriDown Rain Jacket, $299, features a stitch-free waterproof outer shell welded directly to the liner to reduce bulk and weight. The idea is to keep down insulation dry by preventing moisture from wicking through stitching and to eliminate the need for additional seam tape or a separate W/B shell over top of inner baffling. Non-insulated sides, underarms and hood streamline fit, venting and packability and weighing 19 ounces. “We designed the DriDown Rain Jacket because people have been asking for this solution for a long time,” said Martin Flora, creative director for Sierra Designs.  “We listened and built the best answer to cold, stiff rain shells and bulky, heavy insulated jackets.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014, SmartWool continues the tradition of apparel innovation utilizing Merino wool. The PhD SmartLoft Full Zip, $230, features a semi-form fit and varying weights of SmartLoft wool insulation to provide warmth and thermoregulation even when wet. A DWR finish makes this mid-layer versatile as outerwear. HyFI knit insets allow for ease of movement and additional breathability; and strategically placed Merino lining manages sweat. Features a center front zipper with ski-locking slider, adjustable cordlock at waist, draft flap and chin guard.  “We wanted to design a technical mid-layer that could keep us cool when hammering up and warm while soaking in the view at the summit. Wool insulation, with a Nylon DWR, proved to be the solution,” said Steve Metcalf, SmartWool global director of strategic communications. “The PhD SmartLoft Full Zip is the perfect combination of insulation, wind-resistance, breathability and low bulk.”  

From the small-but-worth-noting category in the expanding world of micro-apparel brands, Trew continues its line of fashion forward freeride outerwear with highly technical and beefy styles. The new Tempest Pant, $375, is a freeride women’s waist pant engineered with three-layer waterproof construction (Private Reserve 3L Fabric). Fit is tapered and articulated for a flattering fit and free range of motion. Some Trew details include laser cut and welded pockets with YKK Aquaguard zippers; double-stitched critical seams; 3L double-knit pocket liner; reinforced instep and cuff.  Also of note, the Men's Snap Jackorak, $195, is a stylish, technical, classic pullover. It features the same materials as Trew's new Snap Jack, but in a retro pullover pattern perfect for working outside or as a lightweight mid-layer. Made of durable nylon taslan, the textured face has good abrasion resistance with a natural hand and dull finish for timeless style. Features hand warmer pockets, chest pocket and front body pocket.  The Polar Vestige, $180, features the same premium materials as the Polar Shift but in an ultra-light pullover vest. Like it’s full zip relative, the Polar Vestige is reversible with a chest pocket and kangaroo drop pocket. (The drop pocket features a reversible zipper and doubles as a stuff sack.) Features 15-denier Nylon fabric with double-ripstop weave and 60g PrimaLoft ONE insulation.   The Beast three-layer powder shell, $499, is the culmination of years of technical outerwear study resulting in a refined articulation, pack-accessible side vents and storage. Tonal PU overlay film accents each zippered pocket and adds durability and a smooth hand to pocket open