When it comes to ski jackets, it all comes down to features. Choosing the right jacket for your winter activities is arguably as important as selecting the right ski. Does it have a powder skirt? How many pockets does it have? Will you run the risk of overheating? Will the hood fit comfortably over your helmet? Featuring a dozen performance details including an internal mesh storage/goggle pocket, see-through smart phone pocket with audio cord outlet, and Air-Flow mesh lined pit vents, the 686 GLCR Solstice Thermagraph Jacket has just enough features to make it practical without going overboard.
I recently wore the GLCR Solstice jacket on a blue bird day and also on a snowy, sunless powder day and was able to try it in different conditions with a variety of layers.
First of all, what I appreciated immediately about the jacket is its articulated fit – not boxy and shapeless, nor too fitted and snug. Wearing a vest and two base layers underneath was no problem. As someone who gets cold easily and wears multiple layers, not reducing mobility or resembling an overstuffed sausage (believe you me, this has happened before) is important.
The overall fit of the jacket is fine, but the sleeves were too long on me and bunched up in an awkward way when I needed to wash my hands, check my phone, etc. However, I did appreciate the sleeve features, including the adjustable welded cuffs that kept snow out and did not expose my wrists to the elements, and the pass zip arm pocket. The latter kept my ski pass handy and I didn’t have to contort my body in strange ways for the liftie doing a full body scan trying to find the pass. The pass zip pocket can also be used to keep a credit card, cash, or ID handy for taking a lunch break at the ski lodge.
Another stand out feature is the adjustable hood with cords placed along the sides and the back of the hood that snugly fits to your head and keeps the wind and snow out.
Now for the science part.
Because it is made from waterproof and breathable fabric, the GLCR Solstice Thermagraph jacket offers multiple levels of protection against the elements. Rated 20k (aka “Very Dry”) on the infiDRY scale, the jacket offers the best waterproofing among 686 active wear, and will keep you dry no matter what conditions. The material is also designed to withstand multiple washings.
The GLCR Solstice Thermagraph jacket is not insulated. Its thermal rating is rated a 5, which for me, is a tad on the low side of keeping me warm. Although the jacket has strategically placed body mapping insulation, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference any of the times I wore it skiing. Outfitted with mesh pit zips, this lightweight jacket would be a good choice for powder hounds who tend to overheat.
Finally, the trendy color blocks and matching metallic water resistant zippers will keep you styling on the mountain all day long. At $260, the 686 GLCR Solstice Thermagraph is an affordable option with just the right amount of features that will make you reach for it every time you hit the slopes.
I’m a gear head. I can have endless discussions about gear with snow-sport loving friends. However, it never fails to surprise me that so many of our discussions are focused on the technical aspects of goggles, boots, and skis, with little attention paid to jackets. Based on previous conversations, I feel that too often, jackets are purchased because they might be on sale or are an attractive color, with not much thought put into the performance features. It’s time to start looking at jackets with a more critical perspective. Having jackets with the right features (even as small, yet important as an inside pocket) makes a difference. Trust me.