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Power Dry, Powder Dry in the Japanese Backcountry

March 27, 2014

All it took was for one of the boys to say “Let’s ski Japan” and it was so. After six months of viewing endless Youtube clips of skiers bombing through trees in impossibly deep powder we were on a plane. We were pumped and as excited as a Wolverine zipped inside a sleeping bag full of prairie dogs! Not even being snow bound in Narita Airport for the night with 6000 other people dented our enthusiasm and once we arrived in Niseko the adventure began.

For the trip I chose all new ski hardware converting from traditional 75mm to the NTN system boots and bindings. I also took my usual gear bag full of Mont. This is a mixture of my regular clothing system as well as new products and field-test pieces. As a Telemark/Backcountry skier I always favour layering and look for clothing combinations that are lightweight and warm with great wicking and breathability. My favoured setup consists of Power Stretch Pro baselayers (I never leave home without these – El Gringo & Slinx), Syncro overpants and my Lightspeed Jacket. If it’s really cold I sometimes add an Amp Vest for an extra thermal layer.

Mont in Japan

This was my first time skiing in Japan and given the potential for extreme cold temperatures I decided to beef up my usual layers with an additional lightweight baselayer, for this I selected the Mont Silk Weight Power Dry thermals for their outstanding wicking and drying performance. In extreme cold temperatures it is essential to remove all moisture from the surface of the skin as it will have a dramatic cooling affect.

Wow! The first two days were skied at a frenzied pace and I was working hard keeping up with the boys, traversing out of the top gates and carving deep troughs through the trees in insanely deep, bone-dry powder. Run after run we were skiing beautiful lines through the trees and as you can imagine, lots of heat and moisture was generated within the clothing system.

 

“Carving deep troughs through the trees in insanely deep, bone-dry powder. Run after run we were skiing beautiful lines”

While totally blown away by how brilliant the skiing was I did take time to consider the performance of my clothing and in particular my Power Dry baselayer. At no time through the day did I feel cold or damp next to my skin. This was the hardest I had skied in a long time and at the end of the day when getting changed back at the lodge I was amazed to feel that the Power Dry was completely dry! The Silk Weight proved to be the most effective wicking and drying baselayer that I have ever used.

Oscar deep in the dust wearing Mont Lightspeed Jacket

From a performance perspective the Silk Weight Power Dry ticks all boxes: very light, very compact, outstanding wicking and drying, and negligible odour build up even after six days of skiing before their first wash.

As a comparison I tried a merino base layer for a day. No surprises here, the merino held moisture all day. While I remained relatively comfortable for most of the day, once the temperature dropped below -15°C the damp merino was certainly noticeable and increasingly uncomfortable as my energy levels dropped. Merino is a great fabric for day to day garments, warm, comfortable, odour resistant, but as a baselayer for high intensity sport? No way!

And one more thing. Did I mention how awesome Japanese powder skiing is?
Oh Yeah………… Awesome!

Oscar and Yotei. Mont Lightspeed Jacket, Silk Weight Baselayer, El Gringo, Slinx Polartec

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