On a recent film shoot in the Okemo Valley Region of Vermont, I field-tested the REI Co-op First Chair GTX ski jacket ($299) on the slopes of Magic Mountain in Londonderry, and while fat-tire biking at Grafton Trails in Grafton. Temps were in the low to mid-20s, with light snowfall at times.
During both activities, the First Chair jacket kept me warm and dry, without overheating, thanks to its double layer of waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex, which is also treated with a non-PFC product that promotes water beading.
I also appreciated the First Chair’s light weight and fit, which easily accommodated my insulated base layer and gave me plenty of maneuverability in the arms and waist. In the high winds of the mountaintop and on the exposed chairlift, the jacket’s high collar with fuzzy tricot panels protected my chin and neck, without annoying chafe. And I really liked the wide, shaped wrist cuffs that fit over my mittens, as well as the easy-adjust oversized hook-and-loop tabs.
While biking the trails in Grafton, the jacket’s length kept my waist and lower back protected from wind and flying snow. The First Chair also comes with a handy powder skirt that snaps away when not needed, and a drawcord at the hem helps block moisture and wind.
Overall, this jacket is a great choice for a variety of New England winter activities. It’s rugged and well-made, and I look forward to “field-testing” it some more this season in northern Maine and the Berkshires. Stay tuned!