For those who think that the problem with winter sports is that they take place in winter, here’s a suggestion: bundle up, West Coast–style.
As for the labels of choice, long-standing quality and durability are hallmarks of locally designed—and, on occasion, locally stitched—brands such as MEC, Taiga Works, and Veilance, all guaranteed value-for-money investments. Make no mistake: the price of keeping warm and dry, whether riding a chairlift on the North Shore or strolling the village at Whistler, can be dear. But do the math. Over a lifetime of use, these garments’ bombproof appeal often averages out at as little as a dollar-a-day cost.
Exhibit A: Arc’teryx, a luxe brand that ski mountaineers John Baldwin and Lindy Bily turn to to keep warm. As designer Mike Blenkarn told the Georgia Straight during a phone interview from company headquarters in North Vancouver, “If you want to know what to wear, just check out what Linda and John are sporting.”
When queried, both Baldwin and Bily named the Beta LT jacket ($550, 355 grams) as their go-to alpine touring jacket. “I wear one out every five years,” said Baldwin, “after 500 days’ use.”
The company was founded locally in 1989 as Rock Solid, and the Arc’teryx corporate identity jelled in 1993. These days it operates as an independent division of Finnish sporting-goods giant Amer Sports, which acquired the brand in 2005, about the same time as apparel design manager Carl Moriarty arrived from New Zealand.
“Our commitment is to stay at the top of the pyramid,” he told the Straight by phone. “We want to be the best by producing the best for people who want a greater level of warmth. Our designs tend to be a crossover of industrial and architectural fashion. Rather than watch what other labels are doing, we have developed our own brand identity.” Moriarty lauded Vancouver for the commitment of its outdoors community. “So many winter enthusiasts live here. We spend a lot of time on ski hills watching and talking with athletes and core users, some of whom spend 200 days a year in the backcountry, about their wants and needs.”
Given that the outdoors-industry prestige war is won or lost in the U.S., where brands such as Patagonia and the North Face outperform Arc’teryx in volume and revenue, Moriarty was clearly pleased when the Straight informed him that Outside magazine’s “Gear of the Year” award went to the company’s Rethel ski jacket ($500, 625 grams).
“It’s almost invisible to wear and designed for colder, drier days where you don’t need a fortress-like shell,” he detailed. As for a personal preference in jackets, Moriarty singled out the Stikine ($800, 665 grams). He also noted that the remodelled Arc’teryx factory store (100–2155 Dollarton Highway, North Vancouver) recently reopened.