In an age of specialization, it's hard to be really good at more than one thing—which is why so few companies make high-quality products for wildly disparate purposes. Helly Hansen, however, is among the elite cadre that does, what with their top-tier apparel for both offshore sailing and resort skiing alike. And given their new Verglas Backcountry Ski Shell Jacket and Pants, it's clear that these sartorial polyglots are admirably adept in the backcountry, too.
First off, the jacket. It's everything a backcountry shell should be: wind-resistant, water-repellent, breathable, lightweight, durable, and flexible. There's also ventilation zips, ample storage, and a high collar to protect one's face from cold wind and blowing snow. The fit is fantastic: it conforms to the torso, with no floppy fabric, yet offers full freedom of movement. And a small handful of finer features offer customization of fit and comfort. Despite all this, the coat screams simplicity and straight-forwardness, which is exactly what you want when climbing high into the alpine. It's a solid coat, as solid as I've ever worn, and well worth the $400 price tag.
The pants reveal Helly Hansen's sailing roots, with their unparalleled wind- and water-resistance. You won't get wet or cold in these babies. They're supremely well-suited to skinning and skiing, with a stretchy fabric, light weight, and ventilation zips, plus just the right amount of insulation to keep you comfortable on both climb and descent. An integrated quick-release belt, hook-and-loop suspenders, and reinforced ankles round out the features, making this a very capable ski pant, which will also perform well for general mountaineering. The only flaw is the lack of storage—just a single thigh pocket, meaning you'll have to find somewhere else to stash keys, lighter, compass, or any of the other items you usually keep in your front and rear pockets. $300.