- Good weatherproofing
- Powder skirt
- Helmet compatible/removable hood
- Great materials
- Well built
- Pocket zippers catch the wind
- Pit zips a little small
The Ralston is a solid, all-around performer. It has all the features skiers will likely look for in a ski jacket, and is generally well designed (quality materials and construction), but not in a way that makes this jacket stands out from the many others out there like it. The price seems slightly on the higher end, but is still reasonable given the cost of even basic Gore-Tex.
The Ralston’s outer shell is made of classic Gore-Tex (not Active Shell or Pro Shell) with a soft but durable face fabric, which isn’t too crinkly but should hack being dragged through shrubs on your searches for lost powder stashes. The Ralston is insulated with just the right amount of Thinsulate synthetic insulation—a lighter layer in the arms—meaning this jacket should keep you warm no matter how wet things get.
The Ralston is cut fairly snug, which is great for all but the most husky. It’s not so snug that you can’t layer up underneath, however, though chances are, given the ample insulation, you won’t need to.
The Ralston’s hood is large enough to cover most any helmet, but if hoods aren’t your thing, you can zip it off. I personally think this adds too much extra weight (and the Ralston isn’t exactly featherweight at 46 oz), but some people will like being able to zip off the hood. The Ralston has a suitable set of pit zips in case things get too steamy, and are mesh-backed so you can ski with them open, but are a little on the small side.
It boasts a powder skirt and wrist gaiters to keep snow out, and the storm flap over the front zipper is wide and solidly secured by five Velcro patches and a couple of snaps, which makes it a very weatheproof piece. One flaw, however, is that the storm flaps covering the front pockets face forward, which makes them catch the wind. The Ralston only has four pockets, which is fine by me. It saves weight.
How We Tested It
Six different testers skied slopes from Whistler to Utah, to Jackson Hole. Wet weather testing went down at Oregon’s Mount Hood Meadows.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Pit zips: small
- Waterproof: Yes
- Helmet Compatible Hood: Yes
- Wrist gaskets: Yes
- Gender: Men's
- Fall 2012
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