When we first started backcountry skiing, we always thought besides the likes of skins and avalanche equipment, it’s pretty much the same stuff as resort skiing. After years of exploring our backyard and many others, we’ve realized this just isn’t true. Rather, once you have the essentials locked in, it’s a good idea to start purchasing gear specifically catered for touring. Our latest piece we picked up – the AdlerM Maloja Jacket. And we couldn’t be happier with it in our tool kit.
What Is Maloja… Or Rather Where
On the southern border of Switzerland lies a village, mountain pass, and region of the same name – Maloja. The name originates from the Italian word Maloggia meaning “alder forest.” The quiet village is only 17 km from the legendary steeps of St. Moritz. To the founding members of Maloja clothing, this magical place with just a small group of friends and an old rope tow in the Swiss Alps is what dreams are made of.
Over Lycra & Moto
It’s always cool to hear about a brand that strives to make their own path. To do things a bit different than the norm. The goal isn’t a get rich quick scheme… but a passion for what they do and yet have a work-life balance. It all started in 2004 when the founders noticed a big gap in what was offered from a clothing perspective for cyclists, particularly mountain bikers. Compared to the industry now, back then it was either lyrca or moto varieties. Fed up with the options available, the brand was born.
Things Run A Little Different
More than fifteen years later, they’re still following their compass. To be environmentally conscious. To link function with style. For example, take their headquarters. Instead of being located in a big city, they’re in a wooden-beamed farmhouse in the quiet town of Rimsting Germany. To minimize the environmental impact, they’ve refused to buy any new furniture for the office (except for a few Ikea bookcases). This also applies to manufacturing where they’ve slowly begun to bring back production from Asia to Europe with almost 70% of it now being made in Europe.
Not Just Cycling – All Mountain Fun
While they started in the cycling world, they’ve quickly expanded into all outdoor activities you’d find in the mountains. And as I came to find out, some kick ass items for touring in the winter such as the AdlerM Maloja jacket.
The Right Tool, For The Right Job
We do a TON of corn hunting in the spring and Tahoe’s weather offers up plenty of sunshine. Nearly 300 days of glorious bluebird conditions. My current shell is awesome for resort skiing, but in the backcountry, it leaves a lot to be desired. On the ascent, the extreme waterproofness doesn’t breathe very well making it like a hot box in India. And when I attempt to stuff it into my backpack, it takes up too much space.
Soft Shell To The Rescue
After talking to my backcountry mentors, I realized I needed a “Soft” shell. Since most days when I’m touring the weather is pleasant (or at least not snowing/raining), the requirement is to have something breathable. In addition, the less zippers the better. Each one should have a reason. That’s when I came to the AdlerM Maloja Jacket.
I will admit I was a bit hesitant before I took it for a tour… but when I finally did, I was blown away. Maloja has literally thought of everything. For starters, on the front you have two large pockets to store things like snacks, a phone, and even an AIARE field book. Known as “Alpine Pockets”, I could easily access them without having to take off my pack or adjust anything. In fact, they’re so large that you can store skins inside of them. This allows for you to keep them warm for a quick application later on in the tour.
Breathe. Baby. Breathe!
No matter how cool it is outside, the material between your back and the backpack is always soaked from sweat. The back of the jacket has small laser-cut ventilation holes to allow extra breathability. And I have to tell you it was a Godsend on our long tours.
Even with all the breathability, the jacket somehow was windproof. I got hit with some serious wind gusts as we summited and barely felt a thing.
Small & Compact
On my 1st tour, I wore a medium-weight Smartwool baselayer that forced me to take the jacket off. Due to the jacket’s compact size, it fit perfectly in my pack without issue. This was a blessing compared to my normal resort shell where it feels like I am attempting to stuff a greased pig into it.
A Word About Sizing
Even on their website they note specifically for their ski touring jackets to go up a size. I went with an XL and have to say it felt a bit snugger than I normally like it. With that being said, when I did go touring, that snugness went away. I realized it was the RIGHT size for me. The elastic material allowed me to have full range of motion. And the less material made it easier for me to do transitions and take on/off my backpack when needed.
Who Would Enjoy It
The AdlerM Maloja Jacket is perfect for spring tours or on those days that there is a negligible chance of precipitation. Combined with a puffy jacket in your pack, you’ll have a versatile kit for those chilly moments on the tour. For a “Swiss Army Knife” (pun intended) in the Maloja jacket realm, we suggest picking up the KlausM (for men) or TarinaM (for women) instead. These shells will allow you to be ready for anything Mother Nature tosses your way. And if you’re curious about what kind of gear you need, tips on how travel safely in the wilderness, or want to read about our personal adventures, visit our homepage for All Things Splitboarding & Backcountry Skiing.