“This jacket made me want to climb big mountains again,” raves our tester, a retired A-list alpinist who spent the winter ski mountaineering across the Cascades. “The cut is perfect, with no movement of tail or sleeves when I swing an axe.” Other pro-level features: the stretchy Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric, which earned a perfect score for weatherproofing and strong points for breathability; 21-inch pit zips that are so big you can stick your arms out for fast cooling; and the best hood design in the review.
Helmet compatible, it has a wicking, no-itch microfleece band that cinches as snug as a beanie, plus Velcro patches that neatly tuck away excess material. Add to that: bomber waterproof zippers with no-drip garages; a removable powder skirt; three interior pockets for water bottles and electronics; and two roomy exterior pockets that don’t interfere with a harness.
Highly adjustable, low-bulk cuffs slip easily under gauntlets, and an offset zipper and soft tricot lining keep the collar comfortable, even when it’s fully zipped in extreme conditions. For ultimate protection, add the Nordwand Pants ($490), which feature a foolproof U-shaped drop seat. Caveat: It’s pricy. (Women’s version is the Mittellegi.)