Winter Shell Jacket and Bibs
Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket

$349, 1 lb. 5.5 oz. (men’s medium)

Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL

Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Bibs

$349, 1 lb. 9 oz. (men’s medium)

Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL

The waves of December snowstorms rolled through for days, dumping cold, dry, light powder in the mountains. In the backcountry, the skiing was epic—as were the weather conditions. That’s when high-quality shells demonstrate their value. On numerous days of ski touring through hours of heavily falling snow, temps ranging from the single digits to the teens and 20s Fahrenheit, and frequent wind, OR’s Skytour AscentShell Jacket and Bibs passed every qualifying exam to rank among the very best outerwear for winter.

The Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket.
” data-image-caption=”The Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket.
” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ alt=”The Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket.” class=”wp-image-50242″ width=”428″ height=”640″ srcset=” 200w, 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 428px) 100vw, 428px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />The Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket.

I’ve tested the Skytour AscentShell Jacket on nine days (so far) of backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, and my 21-year-old son, a student and active backcountry skier, has worn the Skytour AscentShell Bibs on 17 days (so far) of ski touring and resort skiing, mostly in Utah’s Wasatch Range. And we both tested them on a four-day trip ski touring from a backcountry yurt in the Boise Mountains.

The newest iteration of OR’s proprietary, three-layer, stretch, electrospun AscentShell waterproof-breathable membrane performs like a hard shell but feels and moves like a soft shell and is noticeably lightweight the first time you lift the jacket or bib. The fabric, consisting of a web of microscopic, polyurethane fibers that keep water out while remaining vapor-permeable, and reinforced by fully taped seams, kept both of us comfortable and dry (and our smartphones dry in a zippered pocket) through hours of nuking snow and frigid wind chills.

The Skytour AscentShell Jacket’simpressive breathability enabled my base layers to dry out completely after getting sweaty on long climbs, whether I wore the jacket alone or added a breathable, insulated middle layer. I rarely even felt the need to open the deep pit zips, although those are a nice feature on warmer days of touring.

The jacket’s fit permits space for an insulation layer and a couple of base layers underneath without feeling bulky or inhibiting full motion at all: I generally wore a lightweight T-shirt and a midweight hoody pullover under it, frequently adding an insulated jacket (models ranging from 11 to 14 ounces) and found all of those combinations comfortable for me (five feet, eight inches, 155 pounds). Its lengthextends over my butt, providing better coverage than other winter shells.