FXR Mountain gear keeps deep powder riders dry and comfortable
The past decade we have all observed the rise in popularity of mountain snowmobiling. As a mountain rider I take pride in the fact that the past three years the Number One selling sled has been a mountain snowmobile. Taking advantage of this trend the snowmobile manufacturers continue to produce very mountain specific snowmobiles that, quite honestly, continue to fuel this craze.
The snowmobile clothing industry has also seen the need for mountain specific riding gear. Why? Mountain riding is very demanding on both the mountain rider as well as the snowmobile. The average backcountry ride usually consists of around 40 miles, but that 40 miles will see a full tank of fuel be consumed and a whole lot of calories burnt by the rider. Calories are heat and that heat needs to be expelled without leaving moisture. As well, any outside moisture must be prevented from penetrating through fabric. “Waterproof and breathable” is a term repeated often when it comes to outdoor protective gear.
It is very important that mountain snowmobile riding gear accomplish several things: it must be waterproof, breathable, comfortable, warm, and durable. These items top the list in importance. But it goes beyond that, as it can become a matter of life and death.
It is not our intent to turn this product review into a survival article, but rather to impress safety on the minds of every one. When you leave the comfort of that warm truck or lodge for a day of riding in the backcountry, you must take into consideration that you are now wearing your warm safe environment. What you dressed yourself in now becomes your shelter from the elements. Therefore, the concept of waterproof and breathable becomes very important, especially in the unfortunate event that you spend a night in the cold.
This past season we hooked up with Aaron Nyhus, Western Territory Manager for FXR Mountain riding gear. Nyhus started off by giving us a bit of history about the company. He explained how FXR owner Milt Reimer started out working from his basement in Morris, Manitoba – that’s about fifty miles south of Winnipeg. By 2005 the FXR line shifted into high gear and really took off. Two years ago FXR started building a Mountain specific line. We picked up on the fact that FXR is run by passion-driven Individuals with the goal to provide consumers with quality, high-performance riding gear.
Nyhus reinforced the FXR approach to the technology behind the FXR Mountain “keep you dry science.” The company uses a process called MMT (Moisture Membrane Technology), or “Two Stage Dry Technology.” This system minimizes condensation build up inside the jacket the same way as a double-pane window works, by utilizing two separate waterproof/breathable HYDRX PRO waterproof breathable laminates that provide protection from the outer elements. The HYDRX PRO waterproof/Breathable Laminate Membrane system is constructed from a 20,000mm/8,000g/m laminate process. The 20,000 refers to the weave of the fabric. This fabric at 20,000 weave is very watertight. This is your protective outer layer to the elements.
On the inside, the 8,000g/m layer is equally important because this is what gets the heat or vapor away from your body. This laminate layer is not only waterproof and breathable but also is seam sealed. Since this inside moisture membrane is not laminated to the outer layer, it actually creates an air barrier between the outside and the inside of the jacket, much like a dual pane window. The overall process prevents condensation and allows heat transfer all at the same time. Combine all this with FXR’s DRY Vent System, which allows riders to vent without letting the snow in, and you have an ideal combination of stay dry technology.
This past season we test-wore the FXR Mountain Vertical Attack Jacket and bib. FXR Owner Milt Reimer and crew have put a lot of thought into this mountain gear. The outer shell is soft and pliable, made of300D Kordura for durability. The jacket has built-in shoulder protection pads reinforced with 500D Kordura on the outside. The bibs also have protection pads built into the knee area, along with the 50D Kordura reinforcing, which is a must for mountain gear. The YKK zippers are waterproof, with each zipper having its own little pocket to prevent snagging. Each zipper head fits into a kind of zipper “Parking Garage” when closed.
We liked that the jacket has plenty of venting built in. When you open the venting it doesn’t open you up to expose the mid layer as there is a breathable filter that protects the mid layer (your insulating layer) from getting wet while allowing for adequate ventilation.
The Vertical Attack Jacket also is equipped with a very effective inside powder skirt that snaps together. Along with a drawstring at the bottom of the jacket and a drawstring at the top of the jacket, it all works to keep snow from going down your neck. We all like that! For night safety, the jacket has reflective piping along the shoulder lines.
The jacket and bibs as well are set up with plenty of pockets both inside and out. Just remember which pocket you put the truck keys in or you’ll be a few minutes going through them all. The tailoring of the Vertical Attack Jacket and Bibs is excellent; the bibs have what we call bow legged cowboy cut that works well for the stand-up mountain riding style. The bibs have full length four-way waterproof YKK zippers, which gradually rotates toward the back of the leg to aid in keeping the leg dry and free of ice buildup. In the area of the hip there is a fold over protective flap twelve inches long to protect the zipper. This is a unique feature that would help in the unwanted blow out of the zipper that often occurs in the hip area. In the area of the knees, instep and hem 500D Kordura is used as reinforcement. The Vertical Attack jacket and bibs are proactive layer only, which means they don’t have an insulation layer.
The layering concept of winter dressing is used here. The inner or the base layer usually consists of a material that allows moisture to pass-through. This is usually moisture wicking polyester. Just a note here from personal experience, street clothes are not a good base layer –denim jeans are not a good idea – take the time to dress in the proper base layer. In colder weather a mid or insulating layer is added, most insulating layers are a fleece material. If the outside temperature goes up the insulated layer is removed and stored in a backpack until needed again. FXR offers all of these base and mid layers, though we did not test them.
We used this gear the entire season. If we weren’t wearing it, we put it on one of our guest riders. We gave it a serious workout, even putting it through the washer to see if it would retain its waterproof abilities. One particular ride turned into more of a survival trip as we endured wet snow that stormed on us all day. We spent more time digging each other out than any one of us wanted. By the time we headed back to the truck we were literally spent. At the trailer with the heater blasting we removed the ringing wet coat and bibs thinking there’s no way we’d be dry underneath. To our surprise, we were totally dry. Wow! This stuff worked. So our next goal was to continue torture testing the FXR Mountain gear for the rest of the season.
By season’s end and many more rides like this, no problem surfaced as the product continued to maintain its waterproof capabilities. As the season wrapped up, this gear was stored away. As far as we’re concerned, the jacket and bibs are ready to go for this upcoming season and many more.
All FXR branded Mountain gear is guaranteed to keep you dry for three years, as well as from any defects in material, contents, and workmanship. Aaron Nyhus also pointed out that the FXR Mountain gear is priced around $100 less than the top competitors. Nyhus says that the build construction process used in the gear that we rode in is used throughout the entire FXR Mountain product line, as well as in the women’s FXR Mountain product. Anything that is branded FXR Mountain and made using Hydrx Pro is guaranteed dry! The fact is that during a full season of real world testing, the product kept us dry and comfortable. We can easily and highly recommend FXR Mountain gear for anyone interested in deep snow adventures.