Homeschool Snowboarding Outerwear
Homeschool Snowboarding is a new brand being launched out of the Pacific Northwest for the 2011-2012 Season. According to their website, their goal is to produce “the best technical outerwear out there,” with the theory that if it works in the frequently nasty weather of the PNW, it will work anywhere. One of their primary focus points is breathability, the idea being that it doesn’t matter how waterproof your gear is if it’s getting soaked from the inside. Rather than the ubiquitous Gore-Tex they are using a fabric called Cocona.
When I approached the founders of the company with a request to test their gear on my Tuckerman Ravine trip, they were kind enough to drop a full outerwear kit in the mail the same day. The conditions and intensity of our day in the backcountry definitely put this outerwear through its paces. Check out the results below.
Material: Feels very soft but durable. It doesn’t feel like it would get torn up or snagged riding in the woods. I really liked the material a lot for that reason.
Waterproofing: It only rained on us for a few minutes, but I sat in and climbed plenty of slushy snow and I never got wet.
Venting: Very nice. Both jacket and pants had large vents that were easy to open and close with one hand, which was great when hiking or climbing.
Hood: I really liked the hood on this jacket. It fit perfectly over my helmet without being a giant sail floating in the breeze. My current jacket doesn’t fit over my helmet and it drives me nuts on bad weather days. Homeschool’s “darth hater” hood has a pretty cool design that protects you from the elements but still gives you enough room to see and breathe.
Features: Both jacket and pants feature fully taped seams, RiRi Aquazip zippers, Recco Avalanche reflectors, magnetic closures, pockets everywhere, and jacket and pants zip together. Homeschool puts these features together in a very comfortable but minimalist looking kit.
Breathability: Outstanding. This is easily the best breathing outerwear I’ve worn. The nature of our trip (hike, climb, ride, rest, repeat) was a recipe for getting hot and then freezing. The Homeschool gear kept me feeling “climate controlled.” Because of the large vents and how well the Cocona fabric wicked away sweat, I never got too hot or cold. I was very impressed.
Cons: Not many. I only had 1 issue with the gear and that was with the front zipper on the jacket. The burly RiRi zipper on the jacket was a little stiff in spots, although I was advised they take a little time to break in. The zipper pull on my pre-production jacket was flaking, but I have been assured that won’t be the case with production pieces. While in the interest of honesty I have to mention the zipper I am confident it will not be an issue with the final product.
Who I would recommend it to: The serious rider who puts performance first and wants outerwear that can keep up. Someone seeking technical outerwear with a rider cut.
Conclusion: I was very impressed with Homeschool’s outerwear. For their first year in production it’s very clear that they have taken time to do it right the first time. I was wary of technical outwear without Gore-Tex, but the Cocona fabric performed as promised. I also have to give them bonus points for being made from 100% recycled polyester. Our day at Tuckerman’s had me in the outerwear for over 8 hours of sustained use and it functioned perfectly. I would highly recommend this product.