It’s a stark winter day. I am carving lines down a mountain, snow stinging my face, hands growing numb. But my body is fine.
I’m suited up in gear from Homeschool Snowboarding. The tiny Portland, Ore., apparel brand touts its outerwear as “not a costume.”
Flash and style are not missing, however, from the clothing line. Diamond patterns and a rainbow-on-black motif adorn my Homeschool base layers.
The materials are out of the norm, too, including polyesters that are infused with “activated carbon particles” in a fabric treatment from Cocona Inc.
Indeed, I was dressed nearly head to toe in the Cocona fabrics, including Homeschool’s Airbreather II base layers ($70 top, $70 bottom) next to my skin and a mid-layer top, the Shevil Tech Zip Hoodie, which costs $95.
Cocona’s formula is infused into the fibers of the Homeschool clothing. Cocona is a Colorado-based brand, and Homeschool is one of many apparel and outerwear companies that license the technology.
Cocona is made to speed up the process of moisture (sweat) evaporation by offering hydrophobic fibers that water cannot stick to. Every piece of Cocona clothing I’ve worn has a very unique, dry, and almost crispy feel to it. I don’t mean to say it’s uncomfortable (it’s not), just very different from a poly-pro or wool base layer.
On the slopes and in the cold, I never once felt like I was clammy even when I began to overheat a bit. If you really work up a nasty sweat, you’re going to get cold, it’s a fact. But so far, with sensible heat management (like unzipping to vent when needed), I’ve stayed comfortable and felt bone dry in the Cocona-based Homeschool getup.
I tested the apparel and outerwear over two seasons. In addition to the base layers and hoody, I boarded in the brand’s With Teeth jacket and Lineup pant. These items have since been discontinued, but they are similar in look and build to what the company still sells.
Smart magnetic closures, beefy, easy-to-pull zippers, and a built-in Recco avalanche rescue reflector are all standard features of the outerwear. The ensconcing hood design keeps the nastiest of winds at bay, and a mesh lining in the outerwear adds a little warmth and aids breathability better than most shells I own.
My overall impression? Homeschool makes solid gear to last. This stuff is built to stand up to years of hard use. The fabrics are tough. The features are smart and subdued, purposefully not too techy. Its Cocona-based fabrics are breathable and plain just do the job. The look? Not a costume. But an elements-battling uniform for sure.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.