Nicola Iseard puts Dope Snow ski kit to the test, trying out the Adept Jacket and Con Pants. Find out what she makes of it…
This is one of those reviews where it will be hard for me to remain focused singularly on my impressions of the apparel, because frankly, the story and philosophy of Swedish-owned Dope Snow (and sister brand Montec) is so interesting that it keeps weaving its way into the gear review.
It is a peculiar effect that happens when reviewing gear from a brand with a clear identity and ethos – you find that every feature of the kit is a reflection of the brand’s values.
Testing the Adept jacket and Con pants here in the Portes du Soleil – my first experience of skiing in Dope gear – it was very clear from the style and, importantly, the low price of the kit, that Dope is looking to make skiing and snowboarding more fun and relaxed, and for the greatest number of people possible. Indeed, the fact that there is a brand that is producing such a functional, cool-looking jacket and pant combo at such good value and without sacrificing eco credentials, is the story of the review to follow.
At Fall Line, we’re always excited to see new brands breaking in on the scene to see what innovation they might offer to us skiers. The two Swedish brothers who started Dope Snow and Montec (the former brand being the more resort-centric of the two, and the latter the slightly more adventure focused) did so with a straightforward entrepreneurial spirit to make what they thought was missing from the market.
Going back as early as 2006, they had experience of working with, and distributing, the more mainstay brands via their online store, but felt like customers were not necessarily being given what they wanted. Since launching Dope in 2018 they have grown quickly. In fact, if you didn’t recognise the Dope Snow or Montec brands before, I promise you will start to notice them on the slopes this winter.
This rapid success is perhaps one downside for anyone wanting to be truly original on the mountain, as you will simply not be the only one wearing Dope in the lift queue. Luckily, there are loads of cool styles and colours to choose from if you want to stand apart from the masses. In fact, despite having plenty of more low-key options, some of the colours and designs Dope offers are pretty wild. We approve.
The Adept jacket I had on test had an appealing pastel purple colour, which (once I’d found a hat that matched) made other brand’s colour choices on the hill seem a little predictable. The colour looks the same in real life as it does on their website, and in their advertising, and continues to look good in the sun or on cloudy days. It looks super smart with the black Con pants (which also come in a load of other colour options if you want to mix it up).
Both the Adept jacket and Con pants are insulated for extra warmth. This is a huge factor in my personal decision making for purchasing ski apparel. It really it comes down to your intended use for the garment. For me, being a dynamic skier, you would think I would opt for a simple shell for maximum weight-saving and breathability, but in reality, for resort skiing, I appreciate the comfort that this sort of light-to-medium insulation offers, especially for my legs. Once you have sat on a chairlift, or in a deckchair, or indeed in the snow in insulated pants, it’s hard to go back!
The jacket features a slightly thicker 60gsm synthetic fluff in the body section and 40gsm in the sleeves and hood to aid manoeuvrability and keep the weight down. The best part with this sort of lightweight insulation is that it is breathable, so it is miles better than wearing a down or synthetic puffer underneath your shell.
Speaking of the breathability of the kit, we are quoted 15,000mm/15,000gm² (waterproofing/breathability) on Dope’s website. These are not super-high numbers, but they are certainly very workable around the resort. I would suggest that if you intend to go touring, or even on longish bootpacks, or perhaps are famous for overheating on milder ski days, then you could either look at non-insulated options, such as Dope’s own Blizzard, Legacy or Zenith shells, or even look at Montec’s offerings, which have a slightly better breathability/performance rating. That said, for general use (piste/powder/park) these numbers are completely fine.
The Medium size jacket and pant fit me perfectly in length. I am 5′ 7″.
What is highly notable and commendable is that the Adept jacket and Con pant are made with 100% recycled PET. The shell and insulation are made entirely from repurposed plastic bottles. Dope currently uses recycled polyester across 90% of their apparel, so this Adept/Con get-up is one of their most eco-conscious choices.
While we are on the topic of sustainable practices, the Adept/Con are also Bluesign approved, owing to certified ethical and environmental practices at the factories where the garments are produced. Should readers or customers be interested, Dope provides loads of information pertaining to these claims on their website, regarding the sourcing of their materials and the sustainability/impact of their choices and factory conditions. I have to say how impressive it is for a brand to offer garments at this price point with this sort of supply chain transparency. It is quite rare. Kudos to Dope.
The two-way stretch (some of Dope’s apparel has four-way but has other compromises) made reaching down to buckle-up boots, or climbing through deep snow to access a line, less of a chore than in a non-stretch shell.
I found the waterproofing was good – and full marks to Dope for not using polluting DWR on the jacket. Of course, after several hours in the rain, dampness will start to creep, but for everyday applications it was fine. The breathability is better than insulated jackets of old, but it is far from what you can achieve with a technical shell.
As for user-friendliness, a slight quibble is that the small sleeve pockets were simply velcro’ed closed rather than employing a zip. I’m sure the velcro would likely be fine holding the ski pass secure, but I didn’t want to try it so I stowed my pass elsewhere. The placement of the larger pockets was more logical. The pockets were also all medium sized – there were no big dump pockets for storing gloves or a small picnic. But there was a neat little pocket at the chest near the main zip where I like to keep my car key and an outer chest pocket for my phone. The main pockets zip then snap shut, but I found I left the pockets unbuttoned, using the zip only and leaving the buttons as a style choice rather than a functional one. It is worth checking Dope’s other models if big pockets are your thing.
I find one of the best places to check the durability of a jacket and strength of seams is at the powder skirt, where thin materials and snap buttons can expose low-quality practices. The Adept was well-stitched here, no problems at all. It is clearly designed to last a long time.
The Con pant was a natural fit, with a well elasticated waist, adjustable with velcro, plus the two-way stretch. Once set, it was comfortable to ski in all day. There are a couple bonus pockets on the seat of the pant also. One issue, as a skier, that I noticed was the lack of anti-slice cuff-protection on the inside of the ankles – this is really a skier-centric issue however, where ski edges can cut the garment between the boots. Snowboarders will be completely happy with the standard cuffs and I’m sure Montec will have an equivalent pant with protection here if it is a requirement for more vigorous skiers.
The venting zips between the knees worked fine, snag-free, and they incorporate mesh, which kept the powder out on the run I forgot to close them. There are good-sized vents under the arms of the Adept jacket too, for dumping heat when you need to.
I felt very comfortable in the Adept jacket and Con pant, in terms of the style, fit and performance. Dope have squeezed as much performance and eco-credentials that they can out of what is in the end a remarkably well-priced outfit. And they have done so while offering a huge range of funky, non-traditional styles to keep skiing and snowboarding ‘less serious’ compared with more intense, exclusive high-performance kit. Perhaps that makes the gear feel more youthful. It seems like it has been conceived and crafted by young people with a clear sense of what many skiers’ and snowboarders’ priorities are: relaxed, distinctive, affordable, eco-conscious gear.