By STEPHEN KRCMAR
Not requiring any new resources, the “greenest” jacket out there is probably the one hanging in your closet. But if you’re in the market for a new shell jacket that’s versatile and eco-friendly, you should check out the Helly Hansen Ekolab Recycler. Built from a waterproof-breathable fabric that’s made with 100-percent recycled plastic bottles, the Recycler was released as part of the company’s 2010 spring/summer line.
I’ve been wearing mine regularly for resort and backcountry skiing this spring as well as a windshell for the 1,000-foot descent via bike from Mammoth Mountain’s main lodge to my apartment. For most of that time, it’s been my go-to hardshell. (On deep pow days, I go with something with a powder skirt.)
The three-layer construction, water resistant zips and taped seams keep the wind and weather out. Stretchy fabric on the shoulders and elbows ensures that movement isn’t restricted. The pockets are accessible even if you’re wearing a pack, making a great option for ski touring, especially because the pockets are plenty big for ski or splitboard skins. And the single-hand pull cord adjustments are definitely nice.
Size-wise, the large is cut perfectly for my 6’2”, 200lb frame. It allows just enough room for a down sweater or vest without being baggy when going without.
At $300, the Ekolab Recycler is in the mid price range for this type of shell. Aesthetics? It looks as good as it works — the deep olive and blaze orange highlights are stylishly classic with a touch of flair. Snowpack-willing, I’ll be snowboarding in my Ekolab Recycler into July. www.hellyhansen.com
—Stephen Krcmar bike commutes year-round and snowboards for as long as possible (usually October to June or July) in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.