Looking for some backcountry ski and snowboard outer layers that will keep the elements at bay while not weighing you down? Then have a read of this review of Verglas Backcountry Ski Shell Jacket and trousers by Helly Hansen.
I have tested this gear over three weeks of snowboarding in France, Switzerland, Austria and the USA. During that time I have enjoyed some powder riding, had some fun in the park and done plenty of piste riding. I have hiked for lines a few times, although I have not been ski touring or splitboarding in them.
Both the jacket and the pants use the same HELLY TECH® PROFESSIONAL material that Helly Hansen scores six out of six for waterproof, windproof, breathability and durability. It also rates five out of six for weight with the jacket and the pants each weighing 730 grams.
My first impression was they feel very soft, not really like a hardshell at all. But having been in rain, snow, strong winds and cold temperatures I can confirm they are a top quality hard shell. Water and wind are kept at bay with precipitation literally beading away due to the water repellence.
During this review of Men’s Verglas Backcountry Ski Shell Jacket and trousers by Helly Hansen I have found them to be rather chilly. As shell garments they are a single layer with zero insulation. I normally wear a shell jacket but I have found the Verglas less warm. I think it is purely down to the thin lightweight material, so layer up.
The fabric has 2-way stretch which creates exceptional freedom of movement. You can barely feel you are wearing them. So for everything from freestyle to freeride and hiking to mountaineering the Verglas jacket and pants do a great job.
Finally the breathability of the 3-layer HELLY TECH® PROFESSIONAL fabric is exceptional. We had a couple of sweaty days of warm temperatures well above freezing. However, there was never any moisture build up on the inside of the jacket or pants.
Lets start with the positives. In addition to the many benefits of the fabric the Verglas Backcountry Jacket looks great, is very comfortable and clearly not going to be easily damaged or quickly wear out.
The zip feels robust and the large hood has plenty of adjustability and fits over a helmet. The tail is lowered to provide extra protection and there are zips running across the chest and under the arm that do the same job as traditional pitzips.
During this review of Men’s Verglas Backcountry Ski Shell Jacket I have found the cuffs to be excellent. They are wide meaning they fit over my gloves easily. Furthermore, the velcro adjustment is easy to use while wearing gloves – a feature many jackets forget.
Unfortunately there are also a few negatives and they all revolve around weight saving. First up there are two lovely large hand pockets – these are great. But there is no lift pass pocket!
I resorted to using the chest pocket for my lift pass. But there is only one chest pocket and I don’t want my mobile, which I get out a lot, in the same pocket as my lift pass. It seems far too risky putting anything else in with it. Furthermore, the chest pocket is a very tight squeeze for my admittedly huge Samsung S21 ultra.
This means using one of the big pockets for my mobile, which as I am whipping it in and out all the time I don’t put other stuff in. There is an inner mesh pocket but it is not that big or secure. I would put more in the pants but they only have one pocket so I have been using pockets in my midlayer instead.
Finally there is no snowskirt. While I don’t use mine all the time, during powder conditions this is what saves you getting snow down your pants. As the jacket and pants do not integrate at all, every tumble in powder led to snow getting down my back.
The Verglas Backcountry Pants pretty much have the same comments as the jacket. On top of being windproof, waterproof, breathable, durable and lightweight they are super comfortable, look great and feel wonderful.
But to save weight there is only one pocket! There are no hand pockets at all and just one mid thigh pocket. This was problematic when riding without a backpack as there just aren’t enough pockets across the Verglas Backcountry Ski Shell Jacket and Trousers.
There are some great other features, such as the integrated belt to you can adjust after a big lunch! Plus it comes with adjustable, and removeable, suspenders.
Furthermore, there are elasticised snow gaiters that do a great job of stopping snow getting up the trouser leg and down your boot. Plus the reinforced instep is going to stop most wear and tear.
These are excellent weatherproof ski wear that is super comfortable and robust. It is not going to let you down and I am very happy to wear it during my snowboarding holidays worldwide.
I have mainly used these within resort but they are designed for backcountry skiing. But most people I know have just one ski outfit that they use for all of their riding both in bounds and out of bounds.
So the lack of a snowskirt, lift pass pocket and at least one extra (perhaps three!) pockets is limiting. They are key ski features that even backcountry riders use.
For resort skiing without a backpack the lack of pockets was a challenge. I ended up putting stuff in my midlayer pockets which is not great for access and is not something I will wear in warmer conditions.
To conclude this review of Verglas Backcountry Ski Shell Jacket and trousers by HH I’d say they are excellent. But I’d rather they weighed a little more and had a few extra features that are standard in ski jackets and pants.
However, if you want something that is super light and protects you from the elements you cannot get much better. So for cross country skiers, ski tourers and splitboarders looking to reduce weight I wholeheartedly recommend the Verglas range. They are also perfectly good for resort skiing particularly if you don’t use many pockets.
The jacket comes in yellow, dark green or light blue for £350: www.hellyhansen.com/verglas-bc-jacket
The trousers comes in black, dark green or dark blue for £350: www.hellyhansen.com/en_gb/verglas-bc-pant