Wind whipped snow up the face in sporadic, powerful breezes hurtling snow that felt like tiny rocks to the face. It wasn’t your average powder day, hell far from it. It hadn’t snowed in a week. And 20-mile-an-hour winds were quickly turning to 30-mile-an-hour gusts that aren’t exactly uncommon for Mammoth Mountain.
My brother and I woke up that morning in the mood for a different thrill. We’d spent the previous day lapping up and down the upper part of the gondola, racing each other down groomers before the high winds fully kicked up. Now, we were on our splitboards hiking up one of the resort’s newly-opened uphill access routes hoping to get some exercise and save a few bones on lift tickets (uphill access tickets are a fraction of the $100+ you’ll spend on a regular ticket).
When we were sufficiently winded – pun intended– we unclipped our bindings and began to put our boards back together to descend. The pelting snow, as I mentioned, made that prospect seriously difficult.
In my experience, these are the moments when, for better or worse, you pay particular attention to your gear. Is your butt feeling wet as you sit clipping your boots into your bindings? Are you too hot? Wish you put on another mid-layer? All things you ought not to be asking yourself if your gear is functioning well – like body parts you suddenly become aware of because they’re giving you grief.
Alternatively, good multi-functional outerwear is straightforward. There are strategically placed vents when you get warm, it keeps you dry, and it’s dependable. Burton’s recent collaboration with Carhartt, the brand behind some of the most rugged workwear in existence, falls into the latter category. It’s absolutely bulletproof and it’s guaranteed for life.
That day on the mountain I had the pleasure of putting Burton and Carhartt’s Worthley Bibs and Fairburn Jacket to the test. Allow me to dissect the pros and cons of each.
Bibs are so hot right now. And for good reason. On a waist-deep powder day, there’s no break between pants and jacket where snow can creep in and wiggle down the pants for an uncomfortable chill with that lingers into wetness. Sure most jackets these days are equipped with powder skirts, but a good pair of bibs are the true remedy.
The Worthley Bib has a few awesome features – not least of which is a front fly. Bibs are literally the worst when they don’t have one and you’ve got to take your jacket down and fold your bib over on the mountain when nature calls. The Worthley fixes that.
Second are the shoulder straps that adjust with Velcro. In the past, I’ve owned bibs that adjust with a cinch. They tend to loosen over the course of the day and are virtually useless. Velcro, on the other hand, makes these pants easy to adjust and they stay tight (or loose).
Fit. Not really a con here, but for me (6’1″ 185lbs) these pants are somewhat slim with little break in the silhouette. If you’re looking for a baggy fit, size yourself accordingly.
Burton and Carhartt’s Fairburn jacket is a snowboard company’s take on Carhartt’s classic cotton duck hoodie. It’s light, packable, and is a great shell, on and off the mountain.
Again, bulletproof. This shell felt indestructible, breathed incredibly well, and was perfect for an average sunny (albeit windy) day in the Eastern Sierra.
The ribbing on the wrists and waist were the only drawbacks of this jacket for me for use on the mountain. Around the waist, I found the ribbed fabric would get wet and occasionally cause the jacket to ride up a bit. And at the wrists, the ribbed cuffs made it difficult to tuck my gloves under my jacket, which I prefer.
It’s also worth noting here that in addition to being highly functional pieces (shop the collection here) Burton’s collab with Carhartt also adheres to some of the industry’s most stringent initiatives for sustainability. The lifetime warranty is part of that, as is bluesign® compliance. According to Burton, “bluesign® approved materials are guaranteed to use only safe chemicals and are manufactured to meet the highest standards of natural resource conservation, consumer and worker health, and clean air and water discharge during the manufacturing process.” (More on Burton’s commitment to sustainability soon!)
That day as my brother and I stood fully strapped-in and ready to jettison down the mountain we’d just spent an hour ascending, the last thing on my mind was my gear. As it should be. And the fact this highly functional outerwear also went toward protecting the feeling we pursued that day for future generations? That was just the icing.