Air permeable fabrics and thoughtful design distinguish Strafe‘s Pyramid Jacket and Capitol Pant as serious backcountry ski garments.
It was a warm day for skiing, yet snow fell from the sky in heavy, wet flakes. I’d worked up a sweat ripping turns down an untracked face of heavy powder. As I climbed into the waiting snowcat, water dripped off my helmet, goggles, and outerwear.
For a ski day, it was downright wet. Yet underneath a full Strafe outfit, including an insulating mid-layer, outer shell jacket, and pants, I stayed exceptionally dry.
Tested: Strafe Pyramid Jacket, Capitol Pants
I joined Strafe and Polartec for a day of cat skiing at Whisper Ridge Cat Skiing in Utah to test new pinnacle apparel pieces, the Pyramid Jacket and Capitol Pant. After a full day riding excellent but wet conditions, and climbing in and out of a moist cat cab, I was impressed.
Strafe is a core apparel company. Based in Aspen, Colo., it makes high-end jackets and pants designed by backcountry skiers. Pete Gaston, the brand co-founder, joined us on the trip. For the record, he’s a ripping skier.
And the apparel hits the marks. It has the fit and function serious skiers will appreciate.
Pyramid Jacket ($549)
Testing pre-release prototypes comes with some glitches: In this case, the brand only had large samples to test, and thus my test gear didn’t fit well.
But it still worked great.
The first callout is Polartec Neoshell fabric. It’s so breathable, air actually moves through it (air permeability) while maintaining waterproof status. In this outing, it kept me dry while working hard in dumping, humid snow right around the freezing point. Even with water pouring off my helmet and skis, my body stayed dry inside the shell.
It’s worth noting I also wore a Polartec Alpha mid-layer and Merino Grid baselayer, all high-end, hydrophobic garments.
During the test day, I spoke repeatedly with Gaston, who as founder is also one of its most avid users and designers. It’s clear this stuff is built by skiers, for skiers, a story that’s told in the details.
A few standout reasons: The helmet compatible hood fits well and adjusts easily at three points; a fleece-lined collar and chin guard feels nice against the face with the zipper closed; a pocket holds lift passes on the lower sleeve; YKK Aquaguard zippers help keep you dry, work flawlessly, and will last the life of the jacket.
Overall, this jacket struck me as a great contender. However, it’s pricey thanks largely to the Neoshell fabric, premium YKK zippers, and detailed construction.
Capitol Pant ($449)
Testing a size large, I was basically swimming in these. But again, the pants, while way oversized, worked just fine in my one-day test.
With just a baselayer under the Capitol Pant, I could really feel the air permeability. When in stiff winds, the air definitely moved through the pants slowly. They cooled down quicker than most waterproof/breathable pants and seemed to breathe really well.
The fabric is soft and quiet with a nice stretchy feel.
These pants come with built-in suspenders, and they’re pretty sweet. They were also totally necessary for my size predicament. They worked, and my pants (two sizes too large) never fell off.
While this was a short, intense day of testing, I was impressed with Strafe’s 2017-2018 offerings. The Aspen-based brand seems to be onto some good things, and I look forward to testing it more — in my size — in the future.