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Review: Volcom Brings ‘Guide’ Credibility to a Snowboard Jacket

Durability and style meet in Volcom’s new high-performance snowboard shell.

Harrowing winds, razor-sharp prickly bushes, sub-freezing temps, thigh-deep powder and bright sunny days — none of these conditions foiled Volcom’s Guide Gore-Tex jacket.

Contrary to what most marketing campaigns say, we snowboarders care just as much about performance as we do about style. That being said, we certainly are not willing to sacrifice style for performance. Volcom understands that, and they’ve been making some of the best high-performance snowboard shells on the market. We put its best shell to the test to find the nuances of the jacket and see if it could stand up to the rigor of high-output, dynamic — but most importantly, stylish –snowboarding.

Volcom’s Guide Gore-Tex jacket was designed specifically for the demanding conditions that backcountry guides regularly face and offers the lightweight performance that they need to perform; in fact, the jacket was developed with help from Canada’s Baldface Mountain snowboard guides. The result is a rugged jacket that, despite its feather-light stature, is extremely durable and handled everything that I could throw at it, including the occasional run-in with trees. Its construction is a traditional three-layer Gore-Tex shell with Volcom’s own nylon outer material, and its super-comfortable Flannel Back interior.

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Park City’s side country is littered with prickly shrubs that sit about waist high. In the side country, those prickers slice more than JohnnyBoy’s pizza cutter over at Paisano’s. With most lightweight, nylon-shelled jackets, that would be a recipe for disaster. The Guide Gore-Tex is a jacket made of a durable ripstop nylon that stands up to the bushes from hell. Though the nylon shell is lightweight, it’s tightly woven, which means it is resilient to even the sharpest of prickers.

As Tested

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Price: $500
Material: Gore-Tex Three-Layer
Insulation: None
Other Features: Recco, Zip Tech system
Test Location: Park City Mountain Resort
Test Temperature: +18 – +30 F

I found that out firsthand. To the skier’s left of the top of Park City Mountain Resort‘s McConkey’s Express lift is an area called the P-Zone. With good snow, the area offers gladed skiing among fir trees big and small. Small pillow lines can be found in some of the wider sections and drainages in the center of the gully. While dropping down one such pillow line, I went blind over the edge of one of the larger pillows. Waiting for me on the other side was a medium-sized fir tree, and despite my efforts to re-adjust and compensate midair, I made contact with the tree and all of its sharp bark. I fully expected to have at least put a small tear in the jacket, but to my surprise, the Guide Gore-Tex was in one piece, with nary even a scratch or scuff.

To get the best fit, you should try the jacket on. I like my jackets to fit larger and looser, so I went with a large. It runs slightly long in the torso, but is cut narrower on the sides than what you would typically think of as a snowboard jacket cut. The sleeves are also cut slightly longer, which works great to cover up the incredibly annoying gap between your sleeve and glove cuff if the length isn’t just right.

For the backcountry touring rider or the aggressive in-bounds rider, the Guide Gore-Tex jacket stands out in the market as a jacket that can do everything well — provided you layer up on colder days. Few other companies (namely Burton) have licensing to use Gore-Tex membranes, which makes the Guide Gore-Tex stand out in a crowd of mediocrely waterproof competitors. If you tend to get cold, Volcom makes a similar jacket called the Air TDS Gore-Tex, that features a small, strategically placed amount of insulation to keep you warm on brutally cold days.

Buy Now: $500

Complete the Kit

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Sphere Gore-Tex Pant: The aggressive resort rider will find a lot to love in the Sphere Gore-Tex pants, which pairs perfectly with the Guide Gore-Tex jacket. The Volcom Zip Tech system allows the pants to be zipped together via the powder skirt with any Volcom jacket. The result is a snow-proof barrier against the elements that will keep you warm and dry on even the coldest of days. The pants also feature the V-Science breathable lining system, which is designed to move moisture away from your body, keeping you comfortable even while working up a sweat in the trees. Buy Now: $225

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