The Arc'teryx Shashka Jacket is a simple answer to the inhospitable terrain where backcountry skiers venture. At first glance, the shell almost looks too simple. It's so lightweight and there are no overt features beyond a few pockets and a hood. But don't overthink it. To build a minimalist tool for backcountry skiing, the team of designers at Arc'teryx headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, already did all the thinking for you.
The Shashka is made with Gore-Tex Pro, which Arc'teryx trusts as the most water repellent, lightweight, breathable, durable material on the planet. And they did the research, going so far as to rub scratchy velcro on the material to test how long it will last against abrasion.
Next, Arc'teryx designers tailored the Shashka specifically for the backcountry and ski touring by adding more range of motion in the sleeves. This is a subtle, yet key feature that you can't see outright in the jacket. But you can feel it.
"I moved my arms in full rotations, freely and openly, while the rest of the jacket stayed in place," said Powder Posse skier Julie Brown. "It did not lift up, expose my middle, or tighten the material on my back. The sleeve cuffs are perfectly flared to go over my gloves. Just like a custom-made suit, a well-tailored ski jacket makes all the difference in comfort and confidence. Fit is the detail that matters the most for a jacket to feel invisible as soon as you zip it up—which is what you want when you need to focus on the descent ahead in the backcountry."
All said and done, the Shashka is a high-end, quality shell for backcountry skiing made by a company obsessed with superior, minimal design and that skiers can trust with a $700 investment, paid back in full with many, many ski days. Also, it should be said that while Arc'teryx intended this shell to be worn in the backcountry, it's perfectly suited for layering and skiing inbounds, too.