It was only 3:45, and already pitch black outside. Beyond the yellow glare from oncoming headlights reflecting against the wet windshield, I couldn't see anything on the drive up the Trans Canada Highway. I was on my way to Revelstoke, British Columbia. While much of the West was on track for record-breaking dry winters, Revelstoke had been a magnet for snow, attracting storms that left the region cold, dark, and wet—in other words, it was a good time to learn about how insulation keeps you warm.
Maybe you've heard of PrimaLoft. They've been in the business of warmth and comfort for 25 years, since the U.S. army hired them to create a waterproof alternative to down. PrimaLoft is the name brand for synthetic insulation and they've built their entire line of products—comforters and all—off a patented "synthetic microfiber thermal insulation" that compares to down in its warmth and durability. But down is useless when it's wet, while the cheaper PrimaLoft synthetic fibers still insulate even when they're drenched.
Until PrimaLoft recently unveiled its new lovechild at Revelstoke, the PrimaLoft Performance Down Blends, insulation was either down or synthetic. But now you can have the best of both worlds. The new and improved cluster of white fluff "intimately" bonds down feathers with synthetic fibers. In its top-level blend (there are three standards: gold, silver, and black), PrimaLoft uses 750-fill goose down treated to be water repellent. The material is soft and fluffy, and now that its fused with synthetic fibers, it will still insulate when its wet. PrimaLoft also says the blend dries out four times faster than untreated down.
Outside my window, all I can see is gray. I still couldn't see the mountains. My crew of three met up with Revelstoke local Izzy Lynch, who played tour guide for the day. We hopped into a blue gondola car, which carried us up to another blue gondola car, which carried us the rest of the way up the mountain. I clicked-in to my skis and followed Lynch down a trail that dropped us at the bottom of a chairlift—the one and only Stoke Quad—which took us up the remaining vertical to the top of the 5,620 feet of terrain that Revelstoke is famous for. Now all I can see is white.
Skiing a mountain for the first time in a whiteout is disorienting. While I couldn't see, I was at least warm. The down-synthetic marriage kept me cozy and dry on the lift, but didn't suffocate me while I chased Lynch through the trees. Mid-December was still relatively low tide at Revelstoke, but that only meant more features to pop off. As the day went on, the clouds retreated, and the sun finally broke through, revealing the valley and town of Revelstoke below. We skied bell to bell, and in British Columbia, days before the winter solstice, that means from dawn to dusk. The the last light of the day streaked through the trees, warming us up before darkness encroached and sent us inside earlier than we'd like. One more lap up The Stoke and one long, last run of the day, a 5,000-foot hot lap.
Details, Details: Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Vertical: 5,620 feet
Ticket price: $80
Average snowfall: 450 inches
Ski Acreage: 3,121 acres
Don't miss: Lift to cat to heli skiing
Terrain Spotlight: Take the Stoke Quad and either drop off the back into the North Bowl or stick to the glades.
For more information: RevelstokeMountainResort.com