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Having tested, and been impressed by the first generation of Planks outerwear a few years ago, I was interested to see how the flagship big mountain range- the Yeti Hunter series- has evolved.
I have had a few weeks in the Yeti Hunter suit, in everything from -20 degree blower powder to borderline snow-rain storm days, as well as about six 1000m+ vertical gain touring days. In my experience, it is in these conditions that you really get to know your outerwears capabilities.
The Yeti Hunter shell is made of Planks Ride Dry 20 fabric, which they rate at 20k waterproofing / 20k breathability. I have never had much faith in these numbers, but I can say that in my extensive road testing, the Yeti Hunter has kept the moisture out without fail and let it out when I start to get hot under the collar. Waterproofing I find does not generally get tested when I am actually skiing- more so in fringe situations- sitting on a lift on a wet snow day, in the bar after skiing when little pockets up snow under the cuff start to melt etc- dry as a bone in all of the above.
On the up I normally ditch my jacket right off the bat, unless it is really cold/windy, but with the Yeti Hunter, thanks to its big underarm and chest vents I tend to keep it on without overheating, which is a real bonus- clothing worn is lighter than clothing carried! I am yet to test it on a really warm spring touring day, but so far so good.
In my review of the earlier Yeti Hunter suit, I remarked that the jacket was missing three features that could have improved it: interior pockets, front (waist) pockets and looser thumbholes on the wrist gaiters. All three have been since been added/updated. The longish sleeves meant that even in deep powder I did not bother with the thumbhole as there was no snow getting in at the wrist anyway. The same was true of the powder skirt on the jacket: the fairly long (me 1m86Ã‚Â and the jacket in L comes to mid-thigh) and slim fit in combination with the bib pants made for a pretty impregnable fortress, without really needing to close the powder skirt or engage the jacket-to-pant interface, although both work fine if you do.
On the outside the two big chest pockets are plenty roomy- big enough for a pair of skins to keep them warm, which is what I suspect they are designed for. They are also mesh lined so they double as massive vents on the up which is a nice touch. On the inside you get a standard goggle pocket and wallet/iphone pocket with headphone hole. The underarm vents are standard- I like that they do not have mesh for max air flow.
The pants have neat popper on the cuff- useful when walking when not wearing ski boots, to stop the cuff dragging on the ground. A simple chest pocket on the bib is useful storage when touring if youâ€™ve ditched your jacket. Thigh pockets and cargo pockets both do what youâ€™d expect.
The full length outer leg zip is great for dumping heat on the up. Micro complaint is that the fairly coarse zipper doesnâ€™t easily zip up/down with one hand.
The only other feature I wasnâ€™t in love with- although very minor- is the popper on elasticated boot gaiter- Iâ€™m not sure what the point of it is, and it tends to come undone when you put over the boot, unless you take care to hold it shut when doing so. I chose to superglue it closed, micro-prob solved.
The fit is pretty much as described- relaxed without being ludicrously baggy. As mentioned, the jacket comes to about mid-thigh on me (L, 1m86Â) and fits nice and snug without needing the drawcord (me 33 inchÂ waist). A couple of times wading around in waist-deep powder to retrieve a lost ski and no snow came in. The collar fits nice and snug around the face when fully done up and has a nice soft lining if you want to shut out the weather completely, and the hood works great over either beanie or helmet. Maybe a smidge snug with the helmet but not prohibitively so.
In summary then, the Yeti Hunter is a bomber jacket/pant combo for freeride skiers and ski tourers. It does the things that you would expect of a suit twice its price. I take my hat off to Planks for putting out such a solid and technical offering at such a competitive price. I am not aware of any other brand offering 20k/20k outerwear at under GBP250 RRP for a jacket and GBP220 for the bib pant. At that money you would normally get 10k/10k, 15k if you are lucky. It takes on the Gore Tex offerings at the top of the market from some of the bigger names (with considerably bigger prices) and my guess is that very few people would notice any difference in performance.