Winter is here early in the Cascades, which is super fun if you’re a skier and not so much if you’re still in the works of putting together your winter recreational wardrobe. Prices on insulation layers have crept back up, but ski, snow, and waterproof gear is at its best pricing yet as product has moved from summer retail discounts to wholesale sites like Sierra and TJMaxx.
Shit on Sale is a monthly round up of damn good deals scraped from the clearance rack. I’m a huge fan of getting the best quality you can get with your budget, and finding items that’ll serve you for years to come. As an eco-conscious reminder, remember to buy what you truly need and pass along or recycle any items you’re replacing. All prices pulled from 10/22.
- Osprey Radial 26L Backpack – $84.98 (MSRP $170; 50% off): This pack is quite similar my commuter bike pack from the Osprey Synchro line. Metal stays and a mesh back panel suspend the pack off your back, and the extra airflow is essential for keeping cool on the bike. There’s a laptop sleeve, u-lock pocket, reflective accents, and a high-vis rain cover, which are nice, commuter-friendly touches. Depending on your route and the rest of your kit, it might be worth the upcharge to go with red for a little extra visibility. The Osprey Momentum line is also marked down 50%, but the Airscape back panel is pretty dinky in comparison to the Radial’s suspension, so I could see rolling into the office with a lot more back sweat with the Momentum.
- Black Diamond Spark Mitts – $39.99 (MSRP $79.95; 50% off): I sniped these gloves from my boyfriend two winters ago, and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It was the first tour of the season, and when I dug my own mittens out, the nose wiper patch had gotten moldy over the summer (gross), so obviously I snagged his nice new ones. The leather in combination with the BDry membrane is a super effective combination and I’ve yet to have these gloves wet out on me. They also have a really nice fleece insulation with internal finger slots, and the fabric wicks really well, so even if I get the nervous sweats or get sweaty battling breakable crust, these still get the job done. The inner glove also helps with dexterity, and I’ve never needed to take them off during avalanche rescue practice or during transitions (which is saying something, since the men’s larges fit like oven mitts). The tan color is also available here.
- Women’s Marmot Pro Tour Softshell Pants – $99.99 (MSRP $225; 55% off): These are a winter-sports designated softshell, with Gore Tex Windstopper and a durable-yet-stretchy synthetic and spandex face fabric. There’s nice venting at the legs, and the suspenders are removable if that’s not your thing (ie. You’re a woman that sometimes has to tinkle while on tours, and stripping down to the suspenders seems like a lot of work. And cold). Here’s the Ski Wife in a slightly older version, which also came from the TJMaxx ski shop for a questionably good price.
- Men’s Marmot BL Pro Bibs – $179.99 (MSRP $600; 70% off): Pretty sure that these are priced by someone at TJMaxx who’s never shopped for snow pants. I keep all my Shit on Sale finds in a spreadsheet (nerd alert!) and the next best price I’ve found on a similar bib is double the price. These are made with a Gore Tex Pro membrane, one of the most breathable and waterproof options on the market and the face fabric is really durable. The design team also really did theses right by making the bib portion zip-off (so you can wear just the pants) and included nice long vents at the leg for dumping heat in the skintrack. It also features a beacon pocket that buckles in your beeper, plus the extra security of a lanyard hook. I also really like that it’s high on the chest, since you can store your phone in the lower thigh pockets without worrying about beacon interference (BCA has great info on the matter here). The only issue with them is that they don’t make a pair for women.
- Men’s Marmot BL Pro Jacket – $199.99 (MSRP $649.95; 60% off): This jacket coordinates with the bibs listed above. Same membrane, same face fabric, same generous venting that makes it fairly comfortable all ski season long.
- Women’s Marmot Alpinist Jacket – $154.96 (MSRP $625; 75% off): This is a repeat from August SOS, but with another $70 taken off the price. If you keep hearing how Arc’teryx has the best shells, know that this jacket from Marmot features the same membrane and similar face fabrication as their $500+ hardshells. For more info on the membrane and construction, hit the link for August here.
- Deuter Freerider Pro 28L SL – $75 (MSRP $160; 53% off): I bought an older version in 2016, in a mad dash the night before my AIARE class. It’s one of the best ski purchases I’ve ever made. It’s well cushioned and supportive so that long carries stay relatively comfortable. The avy stash pocket, goggle pocket, and back panel access to the main body keep things organized and easily accessible (not to mention, they’re the perfect size to stash wet & dry gear separately). There’s more ice tool attachments and carabiner loops, making it more fitting for more technical tours, and I find myself using mine through the summer for single day climbs. The best (or weirdest) thing about the pack is that it doesn’t show any signs of age. There’s no signs that the ski edges are wearing through the ski straps, and even after total schwack routes where all my other gear comes out with holes or covered in dirt, this thing still looks like the day I bought it. Looking for something a little less bulky? The Mammut Nirvana S 20L is also on discount for $65 (57% off).
- Women’s North Face Free Thinker Jacket – $224.96 (MSRP $548.95; 59% off): Like the Alpinist, the Free Thinker is a 3-layer, Gore Tex Pro jacket with a nylon ripstop face fabric. But it has more of a ski-oriented design with a non-removable powder skirt, a clip system for North Face brand pants, and thumbhole cuffs to seal out cold air. The more breathable membrane and pit zips make it the best fit for a very active skier or a rider taking it out on backcountry pursuits.
- Men’s North Face Maching Gore Tex Jacket – $149.99 (MSRP $380; 61% off): The Maching jacket is one of the most popular constructions on the market for ski jackets, with a 2L Gore Tex membrane, polyester face fabric, and 60-80gsm of synthetic insulation. (The Maching is fairly closely matched by the Marmot Solaris – which is on sale for the same price – Patagonia Insulated Powderbowl, Burton AK 2L Swash Jacket, Arcteryx Tauri, and Mammut Stoney GTX Thermo Jacket). The Maching face fabric is a little lower in denier, but the difference in overall durability should be negligible.
- Women’s North Face Sickline Jacket – $119.97 (MSRP $299; 60% off): The North Face Sickline Jacket is much like the Maching jacket listed above, but switches out the Gore Tex membrane for a proprietary waterproofing and the polyester face fabric for a more durable high-denier nylon. The insulation is also heavier on the Sickline, with 100gsm in the body and 60gsm in the sleeves, meaning it’s best reserved for the coldest days in the Cascades or for travel to chillier resorts.
- MSR Snowshoes –$ 179.96 for the Revo Ascent and $209.97 for the Lightning Ascent (MSRP $239.95 to 299.95; 25-30% off): These aren’t the hottest deal ever featured, but MSR snowshoes are incredibly well made, and finding them pre-season on a discount is pretty rare. How are they different than the $50 set from Costco? More teeth, with traction underfoot and along the side rails. Plus added heel risers. Both those features come in handy for uneven terrain. Then the MSRs use steel several areas and more durable decking (particularly with the plastic over nylon on the Revos) to help them hold up to abuse. Not everyone needs the extra features, and just about every snowshoe will work most well-traveled routes, but if you’re looking to get out often and cover a lot of ground, a little extra weight for the added technical features will help get you there.
- Women’s Outdoor Research Aspire Jacket – $94.97 (MSRP $214.95; 56% off): Paclite isn’t the most durable construction for Gore Tex (the inner protective layer is printed or sprayed on and less durable than a fabric lining), but it’s usually much more affordable and a great way to get solid rain protection on a tighter budget. The Aspire jacket stands out from other Gore Paclite jackets for their venting, which extends far past typical pit zips and maxes out ventilation (here’s a pic).
- Men’s Marmot Minimalist Jacket – $99.99 (MSRP $189; 47% off): Scroll up to the Aspire Jacket listed above. This is largely the same piece, just with more traditional pit zips.
- Men’s Marmot Metis Gore Tex Jacket – $149.99 (MSRP $325; 53% off): Building off the Paclite shells mentioned above, the Marmot Metis jacket improves on the Paclite technology by using a separate liner fabric instead of the printed or sprayed coatings. Fabric doesn’t rub away or split nearly as easily, so the upcharge is an investment in the garment’s durability.
- Marmot Palisades Gore Tex Ski Pants – $99.99 (MSRP $224.95; 55% off): Gore Tex ski pants are quite rare under $100, so it’s a surprise to find these with a full size run and a core color. These are perfect ski pants for the PNW, where the skiing is wet and warm. The waterproofing’s strong, and the lack of insulation means you can swap out your bottom layers for the occasional cold snap. And the nylon face fabric is durable and abrasion resistant (although hopefully you stay on your feet easily enough not to need it).
- Black Diamond Mission Gore Tex Ski Pants – $179.97 (MSRP $449; 60% off): These pants are similar to the Palisades, listed above. However, they’re a 3 layer construction (meaning that the interior liner fabric is bonded/laminated to the membrane and outer face fabric so that it feels like a single piece of fabric). Lamination is a very expensive part in the manufacturing process, so there’s an upcharge compared to the 2L options, but it also tends to be more durable and protective of the membrane, and the sleeker construction drops bulk in the garment and improves packability. For a bib option, the Marmot Spire comes in at a similar price this month, but also flips polyester in for nylon, which tends to be less abrasion resistant.