The best way to learn how a product works is to go ski in it. It's not rocket science, but this can mean different things to different skiers. For everyone at POWDER Magazine, that means front-pointing up an icy bootpack right after breakfast; scrambling across rocky traverses to sniff out cold powder hiding in the north-facing trees; ripping hot laps over steep chalk; the all-important 3 o'clock bump off; night skiing en masse, and getting yelled at by patrol for going too fast (sorry about that).

In other words, it means having fun, and making sure each skier records his or her thoughts on the pros and cons of each product. That was the basis for the Third Annual Thread The Needle. Held over two days last week at Solitude Ski Resort, Utah, and one night at Brighton, the event attracted eight apparel companies to showcase their freshest outerwear to the Powder staff and select correspondents. Spending quality time in quality gear is intended to help the staff build the apparel guide next fall.

During the event, we learned that the Scott Ridge Jacket and Pant has some cool new color ways and features in soft three-layer Gore-Tex. That Atomic, in their outerwear debut for 2014/15, will come to market with several pieces that should garner attention from core skiers everywhere. That France-based Eider continues to blend style and technical function. That Flylow inspires with their authenticity and commitment to the true skiing lifestyle. And that those who ski hard and play hard will dig the Marmot Liftie Pant due to its nice fit and burly construction.

But more than anything, Thread The Needle proves that what works for each skier depends on his or her own respective skiing style and size. And that no matter what the conditions are like, you can always have fun and find good snow—especially at Solitude.