Editors' Choice

Outdoor Research Skyward Jacket & Bib

This softshell performs like a hardshell—or is it a hardshell that performs like a softshell?

Brand: Outdoor Research

Model: Skyward Jacket & Bib



2lbs. 15oz.

We ask a lot from our ski-touring outerwear: It should be bulletproof against the worst weather yet highly breathable, reasonably lightweight, and also loaded with ski-specific features like pockets for skins and avy gear and a helmet-friendly hood. And stretchy. With a wish list like that, it hardly seems fair to expect a decent price, too—but that’s exactly what this head-to-toe combo delivers. We’ve tested top-tier shells that cost more than these two pieces together, and they just weren’t as good.

Outdoor Research tamps down the price by using its own top-shelf AscentShell membrane rather than a third-party tech. It’s air-permeable, thanks to superfine polyurethane fibers that are randomly assorted (think: a pile of spaghetti). We appreciated the breathability on everything from sleety tours to sunbaked glacier traverses. Triceps-to-waist and hip-to-knee zippered vents maximize airflow, but we often didn’t even need them: “The pants were breathable enough to keep zipped to avoid sunburn, even when temps reached the 50s,” says one tester. Features are plentiful and well-conceived, including a high, wind-defeating collar; internal mesh-lined pockets for skins; an avalanche beacon pocket in the pants; and a removable bib for powder protection (men’s version only). Our one complaint: The tight integrated gaiters don’t fit well over some ski boots. Shell $350, men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL; Bib $299 (women’s pant $285), men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL.