Ski jackets haven’t always had the most cause to be uber techy – resort pieces generally just need to be warm and have the option to dump heat when needed.  Outdoor gear continues to progress, though, and we’re seeing more and more sophisticated features cropping up.  The Outdoor Research Stormbound is a perfect example of the new trend, featuring a RECCO locator, down/synthetic strategic placement and a unique process of securing the down fill.

Outdoor Research Stormbound Features:

  • Fully Seam Taped
  • Bonded Down Channels
  • Water-Resistant Zippers
  • Fully Adjustable Helmet-compatible Hood
  • Bonded-In-Hood Cordlocks
  • Tethered, In-pocket Goggle Wipe
  • Double-Separating Front Zipper
  • Internal Front-Zip Stormflap
  • Double-Sliding Pit Zippers
  • Zippered Napoleon Pocket with Media Port
  • Internal Shove-It™ Pocket
  • Two Zippered Hand Pockets
  • Inner Lift Pass Pocket
  • Integrated RECCO® Reflector
  • Removable Powder Skirt with LockDown™ Technology
  • Articulated Elbows
  • ThumbDrive™ Hook/Loop Cuff Closures
  • Drawcord Hem
  • Price: $495.00

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Slope style meets proven tech

It’s been a desperately dry snow year throughout much of the Pacific Northwest this year and powder days have been as elusive as a three-humped camel in the Sahara.   That’s made it tough to give this jacket a really rigorous testing, but after around six weeks of wearing and skiing (when possible!) in the jacket, I’ve ferreted out all of its secrets.  The final round of testing came during the week leading up to Christmas, actually – I was home in Nevada for the holidays and the Ruby Mountains, bless their hearts, had plentiful pow if you were willing to hike to it.  So I earned my last turns in the Stormbound high in the alpine bowls of the Rubies and it was certainly a nice way to finish out my testing.

The first thing to know about the Stormbound is that it is absolutely jam-packed with features.  When Outdoor Research sets out to make a premium resort jacket, they don’t mess around.  Every single potential point of discomfort is fully adjustable – hem, sleeves, hood and collar.  The elbows are articulated so that nothing holds you back in twisty tight tree skiing, and an adjustable powder skirt goes the distance to keep snow out from where it’s not wanted.  Or at least, I think it does – like I said, the pow days were quite few so far this season.

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One of the main selling points of the Stormbound is its creative synthesis of down and synthetic insulation.  It’s stuffed with value-priced 650+ fill power goose down (no hydrophobic treatment here) which is held in place by a special process whereby the lining is bonded directly to the shell fabric.  You can fell this if you pick the jacket up and rub the fabric between your fingers.  The purpose is to shed weight which is not a big concern for a resort jacket, but it’s a neat proof of concept for other, more technical applications.  The goose down is complemented by strategically-positioned synthetic insulation around the collar and below the snow skirt; this ensures continued warmth on long, wet days where these crucial areas tend to get saturated.  The discontinuity isn’t noticeable at all when looking at the jacket, and it takes a fairly experienced touch to be able to distinguish the transition point between the two insulations.

The fabric is Pertex’s Shield+ 2 layer laminate is a 70/30 polyester/nylon blend that is treated with a sturdy DWR which has served me well.  The 40D weave has quite a bit of inherent weather resistivity, which is a good thing since OR did not stuff the jacket with a hydrophobic down; the Stormbound is fully seam-taped and this, coupled with the excellent fabric, means that you won’t have to worry about weather getting your down down.

Finally, OR took care to cram the jacket with as many pockets as any human might possibly need; there is a large stuff pocket, an externally accessible media pocket that has a sealed zipper, headphone routing and an integrated, attached microfiber goggle wipe.  What more could you ask for?  Finally, there’s also a tidy little security pocket above the stash pocket for those last few french fries from lunch at the lodge.

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When you finally finish reading through the features list and actually hit the slopes, you’ll find that there’s a lot to appreciate in the Stormbound. The jacket is warm enough to wear with just a base layer down into the high 30’s and its roomy cut allows plenty of layering options or, indeed, surplus winter fat.  I did find that the arms are perhaps less insulated than what I’m used to, but that only translated into a more comfortable wearing experience when I started to steam up inside of the jacket.  The two-way zipper and pit vents provide tons of ventilation option and, to Outdoor Research’s credit, the pit zips pull easily with just one hand.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Outdoor Research took pains to make this a stylish piece for the whole resort experience; the fabric is attractively heathered and it has a rough, durable handle.  The front of the jacket features a subtle angular baffling pattern which is understated and attractive.  Also, kudos to OR for including a RECCO locator to help keep everyone a little safer.

The Good

  • A full-featured jacket if there ever was one
  • RECCO locator is a big plus, just in case!
  • Down/synthetic hybrid is very practical
  • Excellent polyester/nylon face fabric is stylish and performs like a champ
  • Fully adjustable everything – from the hood down to the hem
  • Pit zips (actually, all the zips) pull easily with one hand

The Bad

  • Arm insulation felt a trifle insufficient at times
  • All of these features come at a hefty price tag and weight penalty

The Bottom Line: OR Stormbound

It’s rare to find a jacket as feature-laden as the Stormbound; many others cut corners or trim of features to keep the price and weight down, but the Stormbound proudly flaunts its wares. Powder days have met their match with the Stormbound.

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About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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