Freedom. It is one of the most powerful words in any language. Often associated with government, it has long been a justification for patriotism or a call for revolution. At its most basic form it is simply the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without restraint. Those of us lucky enough to enjoy these broad freedoms realize it can be so much more though.
You must choose how deeply to apply freedom to your own life. Some people are comfortable with the commonly applied definition but don't give a second thought to the freedoms that have been taken away from them. Sure it can be controversial and we're not coming down on one side or the other but how much freedom do you really have? Go ahead, consider the question.
Rules and regulations force most of us to pay bills every month. They require us to show up at work whenever we are scheduled and not a moment after. Prices set by large corporations dictate what we can afford to purchase at the store and thus what we can wear, eat or otherwise consume. Even things like health insurance, which most consider a necessity, offer little freedom of choice.
It is important then to take little freedoms whenever they present themselves. Freedom is walking through a park and wandering off the path. Freedom is turning left instead of right and following the road wherever it leads. Freedom is soaring through the white snow at blazing fast speeds on snowboards, skis or sleds. Freedom is choosing the perfect gear for your adventure.
Having weathered an unusually cold winter in New York this year, we decided to help you pursue one of our passions: playing in the snow. While we love spending time outside when the temperature falls and the white clouds break up into flakes and float down to earth, one of our requirements is the ability to stay warm while doing it. Problem meet potential solution: O'Neill Winter Gear.
We spent the last few weeks testing two specific items from O'Neill, the Dimension Jacket and the Exalt Pants. Our goal was not only to figure out if these worked as advertised but also to find out if O'Neill itself was a reliable brand we could trust in the future. After all, they go far beyond winter and provide product lines for all seasons. Let's look at the specs.
The Dimension Jacket is a 'premium insulated jacket' with '10k/10k waterproofing/breathability' as well as '100/80 Primaloft insulation to give you the ultimate protection from the elements' according to the O'Neill website. The Exalt Pant is 'at home in all conditions' and has a 'heavily insulated, relaxed fit and critically taped seams that will ensure your backside stays comfortable and dry'. These are lofty claims that absolutely beg for verification and we are happy to step up to the plate.
One of the first things we noticed once we got our first look at the Dimension Jacket was the sheer number of pockets available. There is a pocket for your goggles, one for your lift pass, multiple other places to store a number of different items and of course a water proof zipper pocket you can use for your cell phone or other audio device. That pocket even has a place to feed your headphones so needless to say we were impressed by the storage options.
The jacket we received was a little long in the arms for us but the problem was quickly resolved with the adjustable cuffs on each arm that stopped the sleeves from hanging over our hands. There are also adjustments on the bottom that provide a snug comfortable fit to keep snow out as well as a fascinating connector system that actually attaches to your pants and eliminates virtually any chance of intrusion from ice, wind or snow. Don't miss the key hook either.
The Exalt Pants were beyond comfortable and the pair we received were insulated. These pants appear to be completely bomb proof and easily connect to the jacket with the system we mentioned in the last paragraph. They also feature a two layer shell system that helps keep out the wind, a waterproof system only slightly less durable than the jacket and a fantastic adjustable leg with an independent layer for tucking securely inside your boots.
Needless to say we had to remove both items while indoors within five minutes as we literally began to poor sweat from everywhere. Sounds a little gross sure but hey, it proves the insulation in both the Dimension Jacket and the Exalt Pants works like a charm. Anxious to see how they would stand up to some deep ice cold snow we headed outside to put them under the microscope.
First things first, we don't really snowboard. Honesty is one of our biggest things here and so we couldn't fully test this product as much as we would have liked. Our challenge then was to simulate conditions that we would encounter during winter sports and convince ourselves that even for the most hardcore enthusiast, these clothes would both survive and keep them warm.
We proceeded to throw ourselves down steep hills rolling to the bottom. We took to speedy sleds and intentionally rolled them over. Chunks of ice and snow were hurled with no regard and trees were attacked with the intent of causing snags. We kicked, we ran and we fell in every single way imaginable in our attempt to destroy them. After days of trying, we conceded defeat.
The Dimension Jacket kept us warm in temperatures hovering at 3 degrees Fahrenheit while the Exalt Pants did the same. In fact, the jacket was so warm that we were only able to wear a single layer underneath to avoid sweating outside. While exposure times will vary greatly from ours, for quick outdoor excursions we even got away with a single short sleeve shirt. Don't even think about thermal underwear as a base layer unless your heading to Alaska.
During all our testing we never once had snow penetrate the pant legs, the waist where both the jacket and pant were attached or even our hood when it was cinched down properly. The only part of our entire body that was remotely cold was our exposed face since we wore our Vasque Snowblime boots that paired perfectly with the O'Neill clothes. In fact, if we hadn't become winded from chasing our 8yo daughter around the yard, we might have stayed outdoors all day.
One of the only problems we had was with the Exalt Pants and its not really a problem but rather a small annoyance. They collect dirt and grime very easily so be prepared to have a white film on your knees and other areas of the pants if you wear them casually even for a short period of time. These aren't stains and easily come clean during a standard wash but were not able to be brushed clean with hands leaving a filmy residue that made us look slightly dirty.
When it comes down to it though, how can we not recommend O'Neill Winter Clothes? Both the Dimension Jacket and the Exalt Pants performed flawlessly in our tests and succeeded in not only living up to their own standards assigned by O'Neill itself but also went above and beyond. If you are looking for winter clothes that truly keep you warm and protected from the elements, O'Neill is a great starting point for your search. We have no doubt this quality is reflected across their entire line.
Full Disclosure: O'Neill provided a pair of Exalt Pants and a Dimension Jacket to Insider Perks without charge for the purpose of testing and writing this review.