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March 2024

Powder Days with Ortovox

Written by & Photos By: David Wilson & Chris Kimmel (Alpine Edge Photography)

For far too long it was looking like one of those winters we may have wanted to forget. Ski hills across British Columbia and beyond struggled to get the white stuff on the slopes, providing some of the worst backcountry and ski hill coverage seen in years until a recent and very welcome turn of events! Several back to back storm cycles brought over a meter of snow to the coastal mountains!

Powder-deprived beings from every nook and cranny emerged bewildered by this blessing from above. Just as the barren slopes were transformed, the sounds of boards and skis scraping their way down the hills and shrieks of terror from those dodging hazards that should have long been buried were soon a distant memory. Big gleeful grins, whoops and hollers of joy, and the occasional moan of some poor soul floundering as they tried to un-bury themselves echoed throughout the peaks.

This season was given a vital breath of life and I couldn’t have been more excited! We finally had the conditions to put some Ortovox gear to the test in the white stuff it craved! Unfortunately, on the deepest of powder days there was no time for the camera! But we still managed to get some before the biggest of storms hit!

Ortovox is a German-based avalanche rescue equipment and outdoor apparel company that has not strayed from its powder oriented beginnings in the 80’s. They have continued to refine, perfect, and be industry leaders in quality gear and sustainability. The gear I had the pleasure of testing out was the Ortovox 3L Deep Shell Jacket and Bib Pants, Fleece Jacket and Haute Route 32L ski bag.

The 3L Deep Shell Jacket & Bibs

These days there are many quality outdoor brands making top notch gear. Most top brands have outer shells that are very breathable, ergonomic, durable and Ortovox 3L Deep Shell products place big checks in all these boxes. What makes the 3L Deep Shell products really stand out are many of the small details and features that Ortovox has craftily integrated.

Fit & Feel

The material Ortovox used on these deep shell products is durable, placing higher strength material in high wear areas while having lighter weight material in other areas to keep the weight down and easy to move. The material Ortovox uses also has a two way stretch which greatly enhances the comfort and mobility of these products. The supple nature of the shells may sound insignificant but it really does improve the overall feel of the jacket. I have used some shells in the past that feel more like a “tarp” which in my opinion is no comparison to what Ortovox is offering in these shells. 

Some of the smaller details that really contributed to the overall fit and feel are the velcro adjustable cuffs on the jacket. The cuffs are nice and large so they can fit over bulky gloves but also easily cinch up if you prefer to have your gloves over your cuffs. The bib pants also have velcro straps around the waist which allow you to easily adjust based on what layers you have underneath or what side of Christmas dinner you’re on! This adjustability really enhances the overall comfort and helps the pants keep the room where needed without sacrificing your ability to freely move.


Pockets! I am a bit of a sucker for pockets, I like to have my stuff organized; a place for a map, phone, small sunscreen/ lip chap, lightweight skinning gloves, ski pass, and of course snacks! Ortovox does not disappoint here either. Large pockets on either leg easily accommodate a large backcountry map, gloves, toque and some snacks.

The pockets are designed in a way that they sit flat when they are not in use but can bulk out if needed. I think this is great, however my one minor critique is sometimes if you are not paying attention, the zipper on the pocket can get caught on the “zipper garage” leaving it slightly open. Two additional pockets on the bibs are well positioned and sized for a phone and or other smaller items that are along for the journey. I typically keep my phone in one of the two large chest pockets on the jacket that are well out of the way of any harness or backpack waist belt. The left chest pocket of the jacket has a dedicated phone pouch made of mesh wool but having additional options in the pants for times when your jacket is off on the skin up or spring shirtless lap is great!. The Deep Shell jacket also has a pocket on the left arm to accommodate a ski pass. 

The 3L Deep Shell jacket and bib pants are made for deep snow. The adjustable cuffs, big hood that can slide over a helmet or cinch down over a toque, integrated powder skirt that has a grippy elastic to prevent it from creeping up and buching, the high collar, integrated gators and large cuffs to fit over your boots, and of course the bibs themselves make you feel invisible. That dreaded cold melting clump of snow that may have found its way to your skin in the past doesn’t stand a chance in this gear. An additional feature of the powder skirt that I appreciate is how it is removable so you can shed some weight if you want.

Venting the 3L deep shell bibs and jacket is made easy with the two large pit zips in the jacket and the two large leg zippers in the bibs. The front zipper, like the pit zips are two-way, this helps create more venting options, and access to pockets, a harness, or whatever may be under the bottom of the jacket.

The Fleece Jacket

Well designed, excellent fit, warm, breathable, durable, and very comfortable. I’m not sure what else you could want from a mid-layer. This fleece is unique in that it is not just fleece! There is a merino wool layer on the inside adding warmth and comfort while the fleece exterior maintains the breathability of the wool and provides durability. This is my go-to mid-layer, hut layer, pub layer, etc. I probably don’t wash it enough because of that but the wool seems to keep any funky smells down really well which everyone appreciates!

Haute Route 32L

I know I haven’t had much negative to say about the gear so far and that is for good reason. You can tell that a lot of attention to detail has been put into these products and they are made by people who have used, tested, and perfected this gear. The Haute Route 32L pack is no different. One of the first times I used it was on an overnight stay at Kees and Clair Hut in the Whistler backcountry and my buddy had to endure me raving about this bag on the way there… and the way back.


Aside from its obvious good looks, its comfort is top notch. It has an O shaped padded back which is very comfortable. The Haute Route pack also carries weight with ease. Loaded up for an overnighter I wasn’t once uncomfortable or inhibited skinning or making turns. There are load distributing cords and an S-shaped stabilizer that helps distribute the load which seem to work very well.


There is a zipper at the top that you can use to access the main compartment. At first I thought the zipper was way too small, but then I realized the whole back panel opens up which is phenomenal! It is so much easier to stay organized and get quick access to anything in your bag with this feature. 

The separate pocket for all your avalanche rescue gear is also very well thought out. The big zipper, bright coloured interior, and organizational sleeves make quick access and retrieval of your rescue gear in an emergency quick, easy, and efficient.

Additional pockets on the hip strap and two on the top of the bag are great for additional organization of small items like sunglasses and headlamps. However, in my pack the bulk of the room in these pockets have been occupied by more snacks! 

A 32L bag may not seem very big but this bag is much bigger than it appears. Its efficient layout allows you to pack all you need with ease. Additionally, the bag has a rope carry feature, ski carry straps, snowboard carry straps, Ice axe and ski pole straps, and a helmet carry net which all greatly increases the capacity and versatility of this pack.

This bag is also very tough and water resistant. I’ve had it out several days now in all sorts of weather conditions and I have yet to have any water come through the pack. This is largely due to the Cordura®, PFC-free double-layered Polyamide 420D Oxford and PU coating that Ortovox has on this pack. I have no doubt that this pack will put up with a lot of abuse and last a very long time.


It wouldn’t be right to talk about Ortovox without talking about Ortovox’s care for the environment and development of more sustainable products.  Ortovox uses products that are free from Perfluorochemicals (PFC’s), its development is carbon neutral, and it integrates natural fibers like wool that was harvested with the highest quality of animal welfare and sustainable economic management. Additionally, most of their products don’t need to find their way to the dump at their end of life, many of them are recyclable!