This article was produced in partnership with Arc’teryx.
It’s just after lunch but it looks like opening run at Sasquatch Mountain Resort, a small resort in the Coast Range west of Vancouver, Canada. The fat flakes are adding up fast. The liftie sweeps off two inches of fresh snow from the chair before loading my buddy Paul and I. By the time we reach the blustery summit ridge we both look like yetis, coated head to toe in white. On our first run we dive right under the chair, boot top giving way to knee-deep pockets in the trees.
It’s an auspicious start to a five-day ski road trip and an early test for the Arc’teryx Sabre AR jacket.
The Sabre is one of the Vancouver-based company’s most popular ski/snowboard-focused shells. (The Sentinel AR is the women’s equivalent and there are matching pants for both men and women.) In its line for a decade, designers have evolved and updated the Sabre, but never touched its purpose as a big mountain- and freeride-focused ski and snowboard jacket. For this year’s iteration Sarah Wallace, head designer for Arc’teryx’s ski and snowboard collection, says they improved the fit, modernized the styling and realigned the armpit zips to work better with a pack.
The first thing I noticed, though, is the fabric. Suiting up in the lodge, it has a soft and supple feel — a departure from other burly ski shells I’ve used and noticeably quieter than Paul’s shell, which crinkles like a bag of chips. Wallace says Arc’teryx developed the N80PX in partnership with GORE-TEX to be durable, waterproof, breathable and cozy (it’s lined with a flannel backing that adds a luxurious next-to-skin feel and a hint of warmth).
Still in the lodge, I also integrated the Sabre pants into the jacket’s powder skirt. Rivets on the pants slide into buttons on the skirt, locking the two together, effectively creating a one piece. So on run number three, when I took a little more air than intended and cartwheel into a bum slide, not a flake of snow slips through the crack to find bare skin.
By the time the lift closes we’ve skied just about every run and the wet snow has soaked gloves, neck warmers and even goggles. But not the jacket. No surprise: This is the Sabre’s home. Based in North Vancouver, Arc’teryx designs and tests everything it makes in the Coast Mountains, right in its backyard. For its ski apparel that means in some of the gnarliest winter weather on Earth.
After Sasquatch we head east to the chilly Okanagan ski resorts, where the morning weather starts at zero degrees Fahrenheit. With the windchill it feels even colder. The extra insulation of the fleecy liner helps keep me warm and there’s still plenty of room for a puffy in the loose, but not sloppy fit.
On a really chilly chair lift ride, I pull the hood over my helmet and hunker into the high collar, an integrated combo Arc’teryx aptly calls the StormHood. Toggles at the back and both sides cinched it snug. I even ski with it on, though without sacrificing peripheral vision or restricting turns of the head.
One of the only knocks I have with the Sabre is the space it takes up in my pack. Our last day of the road trip is at Mount Baker. Once we’ve tracked up the six inches of fresh, we set out into the backcountry. Heading uphill I warm up fast and open the armpit vents. They’re angled just right for one-handed use and sit out of the way of backpack straps. Soon that’s not enough and I take the Sabre off. Now I notice its pack size compared to a strictly touring shell. All the resort friendly features — a ski pass pocket, gusseted arms so they don’t ride up when tucking, waterproof zippers, mesh drying pockets and a phone pocket — add up.
But at the resort the extra coverage feels reassuring. It may not protect from the mythical bigfoot that’s said to live in the forest near Sasquatch Resort. But against cold, storms, tree branches and anything else you’re likely to encounter at a ski resort, it feels like a luxurious suit of armor.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!