Light broke to reveal a fresh coat of snow; the cold, light kind Colorado is known for. While driving through Boulder the roads had a veneer of packed powder so there was no sense in pushing the speed limit, even if I was running a bit late. Better to arrive late to the trailhead than in a ditch. Traffic was light along the foothills, but ground to a walk on Denver's fave freeway, I-70, with the mere threat of the Eisenhower "funnel" looming ten miles ahead. In spite of the fear of arriving late, the rest of the group was later still, giving me time to rearrange items in my pack.

Upon arriving it was clear this was going to be a cold day on Berthoud Pass. Snow was swirling off every ridge in sight, dropping on the lee sides and building slabs to trap unsuspecting skiers. There was evidence of a small, and recent, slab avalanche that had cracked and run down the slope. It looked like the skier triggering it skied out unharmed leaving behind a warning to those who might heed it. Given that the winds were gusting to 60 mph, the Vinson jacket would prove to be a good choice for the day.


Vinson has all the requisite bells and whistles in all the right places. Velcro tabs to tighten the cuffs, PU coated zippers on the hand pockets and pit zips, drawcords on the hood to cinch it around your face and under the back of your head, all built with 3-layer DryFactor 2000. It blocks wind like a roof, blocks water to 5000 mm of water pressure and is air permeable to 10,000 g/m2. If Red Fox didn't admit it, you'd think it was that fancy 3-layer PTFE membrane you regularly pay a lot more for.

If 60 mph gusts don't impress you, how about 100+ mph winds combined with pellets of snow? The Vinson braved those handily on a subsequent trip to northern Norway and the only thing that felt the sting of those iceballs hurling at unbearable velocities was my exposed face whenever I had to peer forward to see what direction the group was stumbling in. Inside there's a mid-sized zippered pocket on the left for small things like an iPhone or glove liners. Where the main zipper tops out, there's a soft chin patch.


On the skin up the ridge, the first pitch was sheltered from the wind for the first 300 vert. Air temps were still around 10° F, but the group I was with was in sprint mode, charging up the hill to sweat out the toxins from another work week so I huffed and puffed and perspired to keep up. Beneath the Dry Factor shell I only had a single wool layer on, but that was enough to see how Vinson would vent. As expected, when I reached higher ground the winds were howling and we bent into the wind to keep from being blown over. If the Vinson hadn't vented the sweat, the howling winds would chill me to the bone. Yet I remained warm, in part because the Vinson vents the sweat out, and helps hold the heat in. If you're looking for a shell that can keep you warm and dry when the weather is not, Vinson will give you the protection you need without breaking the bank.

© 2015