With its unbeatable ability to knock down wind, durable 430 Denier nylon exterior and unmatched venting system, the Valdez Parka and Powerhawk Bib Pant that I wore last season wasn’t ideal for every single condition I encountered, but it was perfect for the majority of my riding days.
The gear set was a shell that didn’t include a shred of insulation – nothing, nada, zip. I knew what I was getting into, though – as a guy who always wears a heat-trapping TekVest under my jacket as well as a good midlayer, I typically go for lighter weight jackets. Sometimes that works out well; other times not as much.
The Valdez Parka, though, was definitely the most windproof jacket I’ve ever worn. When all vents were shut, it didn’t let in an iota of air, allowing me to ride very comfortably in temperatures down to 10 degrees below zero. It was only when temperatures fell further below zero that I occasionally wished I had other outerwear.
When temperatures went the other way, the Valdez had premium levels of venting, with 5-inch zippered vents in each forearm, 7-inch vents at each bicep, 6-inch vents that double as pockets in the upper chest and two 7-inch exhaust vents in the upper back – this jacket moved so much air it could make a turbocharger blush! In fact, I occasionally wore this jacket on motorcycle rides in the summer because of its premium venting. In that application, I didn’t care that the vents were backed by material that let air but not snow through to my body; in winter applications when riding in powder, that vent-backing material came in handy often.
Another handy feature was the pass-through zippered holes in the lower back that are specifically designed to allow a rider to pass backpack straps through the jacket and buckle them in front, under the jacket. It’s a smart design and very handy for backpack-wearing riders like me.
The size XL jacket was cut a bit slim, which I liked, though I was surprised that the articulated arms still pinched material on the inside of my elbow – a problem I’ve experienced on other Klim jackets but not as much from other brands. It probably has something to do with the density of the material being used, and it’s a trade out I’ll gladly take.
Like the jacket, the Powerhawk Bib Pants benefit from a three-layer Gore-Tex material treatment that makes each piece waterproof and breathable. The pants fit my frame well out of the bag when they arrived – cinching them tighter using the Velcro-style hook-and-loop fastener straps at the waist made the t perfect.
Zippered vents run down both legs from the upper thigh down to the ankles for maximum lower-body venting, except without the snow-blocker material behind the vents, meaning venting legs when powder riding was not an option.
Overall it was surprising how warm I stayed all winter in the vast majority of conditions with this shell setup that looked good, fit great and only on rare occasion left me wanting for a jacket with insulation.
Editor’s Note: Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! This story is from the November 2021 issue’s Cold Tested department. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.