Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '09: Outerwear makers shell out jackets and pants -- and kids get in on the action too

No winter trade show would be complete without an extensive rollout of outerwear and Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '09 was no exception. In shells, companies are trying to heat things up using alternative means, like Mountain Hardwear jackets wired for Ardica's heat source battery packs or GoLite's Reflexion aluminum radiant heat barrier laminate. Cloudveil revamped more than 80 percent of its line, while Ibex embraced Schoeller soft shell again. Plus, Marmot laid the foundation for its Access collection, a new sidecountry snowsports line it's looking to officially launch in 2010. Covering the lower extremities, Westcomb has a bib that converts cleanly into pants, while Marmot's playing with jacquard prints and gradient colored fabrics. And, kids are being taken more seriously as Cloudveil separates its line into boys and girls sizing and Mountain Hardwear debuts its new youth collection.
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No winter trade show would be complete without an extensive rollout of outerwear and Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '09 was no exception.

In shells, companies are trying to heat things up using alternative means, like Mountain Hardwear jackets wired for Ardica's heat source battery packs or GoLite's Reflexion aluminum radiant heat barrier laminate. Cloudveil revamped more than 80 percent of its line, while Ibex embraced Schoeller soft shell again. Plus, Marmot laid the foundation for its Access collection, a new sidecountry snowsports line it's looking to officially launch in 2010.

Covering the lower extremities, Westcomb has a bib that converts cleanly into pants, while Marmot's playing with jacquard prints and gradient colored fabrics.

And, kids are being taken more seriously as Cloudveil separates its line into boys and girls sizing and Mountain Hardwear debuts its new youth collection.

Hard and soft shell jackets

Cloudveil revamped 85 percent of its line between revisions -- like the RPK and Koven jackets -- and at least one new product in each category. Always known for its high-end garments and pricing, the company told us it now has more pieces that fit a mid-point price level as well as a lower price level to be more accessible to consumers. New to the hard shell category is the higher-end Shadow Peak jacket and pant (MSRP $350 and $300) with Gore-Tex Performance 3L and Transporter brushed tricot lining. The jacket has a sealing hood that can be zipped off and a collar with a hidden cinch to lock out the cold. On the lower price scale is the FirsTurn, a three-season soft shell jacket (MSRP $150) with adjustable hood, laminated cuff tabs and adjustable hem. And, Cloudveil is no longer using Schoeller fabric across the board, replacing it in some instances with its proprietary Cyclone soft shell fabric as evidenced in the redesigned classic Serendipity jacket (MSRP $250).

We guess the experiment into kids' technical outerwear was a success because Cloudveil has dived in full hog and segmented pieces for boys and girls based on styling, sizing (sizes 4-14) and color rather than being unisex. Also new is the Growing Grom System, which allows for another inch to be released from the hem of the Beartooth insulated bibs (MSRP $100) to keep up with growing kids. The Puffer is a 600-fill down jacket with attached hood and Lycra binding at cuffs and waistband (MSRP $130). The lines are tight but offer the essentials: insulated and shell jackets, pullovers, bibs and pants, gloves and beanies -- all which can be used for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and other cold-weather activities. Retail prices range from $50 to $150 on apparel pieces. www.cloudveil.com

GoLite's Reflexion outerwear features four-layer performance with three-layer weight via the pairing of an aluminum radiant heat barrier laminated to a Sympatex waterproof-breathable membrane. It retains up to 75 percent of body heat but still allows moisture to escape and the company says eliminates the need to pack an extra mid layer. The men's McKenzie Reflexion hard shell (MSRP $350 -- photo to right) has laser cut and welded pockets, helmet-compatible hood, pit zips, articulated elbows, media pocket and harness-compatible pocket placement. www.golite.com

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Just not fully satisfied with its soft shell fabrics, Ibex scrapped the old and started over. It's using Schoeller again for its soft shell outer, then bonds an inner layer of wool to it. There are nine styles -- jackets, pants and a vest -- each for men and women, including the Vim Hybrid jacket (MSRP $195) for high aerobic winter activities and the more technical Rime jacket (MSRP $395) for harsher environments -- both with semi-fit for layering and mobility. www.ibexwear.com

Always one to stretch the boundaries a bit, Marmot is dabbling in jacquard prints and gradient colored fabrics in its women's snowsports line. The Cody Bowl jacket (MSRP $290) has a gradient twill coloring -- deep blue or red plum -- that starts out light at the jacket's top then becomes more saturated and richer in color as it progresses down the garment. The Snow Angel Component jacket is made of the company's MemBrain waterproof/breathable fabric with a jacquard floral weave.

Marmot also tipped its hand on fall 2010, sharing details on its Access collection, a new sidecountry snowsports line. The company told SNEWS the line reflects the evolution of snowsports recreation and its desire to shepherd younger skiers and boarders who are already on the brink of exploring the backcountry. The line will blend style and performance, allowing a new demographic to break from the resort confines into the backcountry. In addition to apparel and equipment, Marmot says it will educate users on mountain safety and backcountry awareness. www.marmot.com

Mountain Hardwear is leaping into the 21st century with Ardica "enabled" outerwear. What does that mean exactly? Ardica makes a heat source battery pack that can be slid into a pouch inside select Mountain Hardwear jackets which are pre-wired to produce three settings of on-demand heat and a charge for small electronics like MP3 players, phone, GPS, etc. Mountain Hardwear has designed two Ardica enabled liner jackets -- the Radiance for women and the Refugium for men (MSRP $230). The liners are also paired with a waterproof/breathable technical shell as part of a 3-in-1 snowsports jacket system -- Radiance Trifecta (photo to right) for women and Refugium Trifecta for men (MSRP $550). The battery pack and technology connector are sold separately through Ardica.

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For those grounded more in present day, Mountain Hardwear's Silvretta jacket (MSRP $350) for women is designed for alpine climbing and mountaineering and reputed to be the lightest, most breathable and waterproof shell in the line. It's made of a three-layer Terra Shell fabric -- an air permeable 20-denier nylon shell with a waterproof Conduit laminate. It has welded and waterproof zWeld seams that stretch for mobility, a helmet-compatible hood that rolls away and a feminine cut for a low-profile fit. Guys get in the action too with their version called the Carnic (MSRP $350).

Answering the call of its retailers, Mountain Hardwear unveiled its first-ever youth line -- eight styles inspired by the company's adult line but with fewer bells and whistles. All styles -- mainly jackets and zip-T tops ranging in price from $40 to $100 -- are made from technical fabrics in a variety of colors with youth sizing ranging from XS-L (sizes 6 to 16). Among the lineup for both boys and girls is the Epic jacket (MSRP $65) with Arc Ripstop and the Microchill Zip T (MSRP $40) with Polartec. Little ladies get their own Monkey jacket (MSRP $85) with high-pile Monkey Phur fleece and DWR finish to shed water and snow. Boys will be prepared for any snowball fight in the Hooded Compressor jacket (MSRP $100) -- insulated with Thermic Micro synthetic fill and water-repellent nylon shell. The timing of the launch corresponds with Mountain Hardwear's Send a Kid to Camp program, a fund-raising effort to support nine U.S. outdoor camps. It's donating up to $35,000 toward scholarship programs at the selected camps. Click here for details. www.mountainhardwear.com

Merrell Apparel's latest concept piece is a foray into sustainable performance outerwear design. The NADA jacket's name stands for "not any dye applied" and strives to ease up on the environmental impacts caused by the dying process. Made of a two-layer Opti-Shell for waterproofness and Opti-Warm insulation in the sleeves and body for warmth, the stark white jackets have an aesthetic coolness to them. The women's Nanuk style and men's Cirque style have hoods, are fully seam-sealed and retail for $229. www.merrell.com

With its devotion to ice, Outdoor Research unleashed the rugged Alibi soft shell jacket (MSRP $260 -- photo to right) for men. It has Ventia soft shell with brushed tricot interior on the shoulders and hood for maximum weather protection. The torso is a blend of double-weave Cordura and Thermolite polyester for durability and enhanced movement. It also has a two-piece hood and cuff gaiters with thumb loops. Debuted in '07, then dropped from the line, the men's Fraction Hoody (MSRP $160) is back -- a lightweight thermal layer for cold, damp conditions. And in a bit of reverse psychology, the women's Rumor hoody is now available in a men's full-zip style (MSRP $120) and made of Motion Fleece fabric. www.outdoorresearch.com

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For pure alpine pursuits, Patagonia's Speed Ascent jacket (MSRP $375) has an insulating, low-bulk hanging R2 lining, which is cleanly tacked along the seams to offer unimpeded movement without bunching. By not being laminated to the shell, the lining moves freely and creates a bellow effect for better breathability, moisture movement, dry time and warmth. Men's and women's versions available, as well as a pant (MSRP $325). www.patagonia.com

Shortly before Winter Market, Prana decided to re-brand its Scapegoat technical apparel line to Prana Outerwear, saying consumers weren't putting two and two together that they were the same company. The decision was made so recently that the catalog handed out at the show still said Scapegoat. Although it'll be losing the unique name, the goat logo stays. Also new for 2009 was the splitting of the line into two collections: Rideable and Legacy. Rideable has the brand's most technical product offerings and the majority of the new pieces, while Legacy houses many of its original stylish outerwear. While all of it looks great, of note in the Rideable line is the women's Genevieve (MSRP $495) with a two-layer Gore-Tex exterior and Eco Primaloft insulation that doesn't sacrifice style for performance. It has a high front collar with Velcro closure that covers the face, extra flap over the front zipper, adjustable and removable hood, a technology pocket accessed by split front placket and laser cut pockets. The men's equivalent is the Barnburner jacket (MSRP $495). www.scapegoatbrand.com, www.prana.com

Pants

For skiing or alpine climbing, Arc'Teryx's lightweight Gamma SK soft shell pants (MSRP $199) are designed for high-output touring days, offering mobility and breathability with cold and dry weather protection. The men's Scarab and women's Scarabee pants (MSRP $399) have a looser fit and light insulation via a Gore-Tex soft shell -- a warmer option for all-weather protection. The pants have articulated knees and seat, reinforced instep and high-backed cuff guard and laminated powder cuffs to keep the snow out around your ankles. And just for the ladies, the Scimitar bib (MSRP $450) is made with Gore-Tex Pro Shell, forward-leaning articulation in the knees and seat for mobility, three-quarter length side-zips and Keprotech in-step patches on the hem. www.arcteryx.com

Taking one big step for mankind (and women too!), Cloudveil's Spacewalk insulated soft shell pants (MSRP $300) offer breathability and warmth by pairing a Schoeller Dynamic outer with Primaloft filling. The pants have internal stretch paneling for mobility, waist adjustments, plenty of pockets, ankle zippers and outer thigh zip vents. The men's version has removable suspenders. www.cloudveil.com

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With adjustable cuffs that accommodate a variety of ski and snow boots, Isis' Laila pant (MSRP $185) is made of lightweight stretch soft shell fabric with DWR finish bonded to brushed polyester. It has microfleece-lined hand pockets, a cargo pocket and 12-inch thigh vents. And, it comes in regular, petite and long lengths to accommodate a variety of body types. www.isisforwomen.com

Like its Cody Bowl jacket, Marmot's Voltage snowsports pants for women (photo to right) is playing with gradient fabric coloring in both a blue and red plum. They are made with Membrain waterproof/breathable fabric and have a seam-taped two-layer construction. Filled with Spirafil synthetic insulation, the pants have brushed tricot seat and thighs and internal gaiters with grippy elastic. A jacquard floral-esque print is also available. www.marmot.com

Rab's Latok Tour pants (MSRP $275) are constructed from Event's abrasion-resistant, two-layer fabric. They have full-length side zippers on the legs, detachable and adjustable suspenders, and fixed snow gaiters. For breathability and weather protection, the Fusion pants (MSRP $200) use Pertex Equilibrium stretch fabric with Event three-layer paneling in the knees and rear. It has various zippers for venting, articulated knees, Cordura-reinforced instep and reflective print details on the back of legs. www.rab.uk.com

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Scapegoat, soon to be re-branded as Prana Outerwear, offered up two pairs of ski/snowboard pants each for men and women that looked as if they could be as at home on the street as on the slopes. The men's Barnburner (MSRP $325) and women's Genevieve pants (MSRP $300) have two-layer Gore-Tex shells, Primaloft insulation, Bemis abrasion film at potential wear areas, side leg zip and gaiter, and optional suspenders. The Raven (men, MSRP $300) and Gretchen (women, MSRP $275) diverged from the other pants in not having the Primaloft insulation and suspenders. www.scapegoatbrand.com, www.prana.com

Westcomb's bibs are designed to stand up to the rigors of ice climbing, skiing and mountaineering. On top, the Phantom bib (MSRP $449 -- photo to right) is made using Schoeller Dynamic for breathability and stretch, while the pants portion are waterproof/breathable Event. When things heat up, the bib section can be cleanly zipped off and the pants worn alone. A ceramic scuff guard encircles the entire bottom of the pant leg for abrasion resistance. The bib also has multiple pockets including one specifically sized and designed to hold a beacon. It has an adjustable waist and suspenders, as well as articulated knees and internal gaiters. The Mirage bib (MSRP $399) mimics the Phantom except the bib does not zip off. www.westcomb.com

--Wendy Geister

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