There are people who like to ski in storms. And then there are those who have to be out in weather so bad it shuts the mountain down. (Ski patrollers, for one.) Some of these men and women wear Helly Hansen’s Patrol Jacket day in and day out.
Part of a three-year-long collaboration between an Arc’teryx-defect designer and 50-plus patrollers from Colorado to Alaska to Norway, the Helly Hansen Patrol Jacket is “half apparel, half instrument,” as it was designed to be a “tool for patrollers,” according to the company.
Complete with a stretchy but still waterproof-breathable nylon face fabric, a YKK AquaSeal front zipper, and a “fusion modular system” that allows for the jacket and pant to interface (zip together), the Patrol is one of the best jackets I’ve ever worn.
I wore it exclusively for the latter half of last winter in Mammoth, Calif., for about 50+ days on the hill. I’ve also worn it during a chilly and fast road bike descent of a mountain pass at the Alta Alpina Challenge. It had other riders in tech bike jackets shivering. Me? Nice and warm.
That bike race brought home a lesson for me: If your jacket is ridiculously windproof, you don’t have to wear too much underneath. Manage your zippers — front and pit zips on this model — and you’re golden.
Other features on this jacket include side pockets that are a little higher on the jacket (to make them accessible if you’re wearing a pack), a non-removable hood that accommodates at helmet, and Recco avalanche reflectors.
The fabric was as waterproof as any I’ve ever used. It’s incredibly light, too. My size large weighed in at 620 grams.
But I have two complaints: The zipper that zips into the pants broke early on. It still zips, but it just doesn’t stay that way. Also, tape on one of the seams is coming off. With a lifetime warranty, I’m going to send it back and see what the company can do.
Final word: If I was in the market for a new jacket, the two complaints above would not be a deal breaker for me. At $600, it’s not cheap. But if you’ve got the bank and want one of the best jackets going, Helly Hansen’s Patrol Jacket is worth a hard look. www.hellyhansen.com
—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.