It goes without saying that the winter of 2016/17 was not the best in Europe. Wildly fluctuating temperatures and inconsistent snowfall do not maketh happy skiers yet that was the shitty card that Mother Nature repeatedly decided to deal throughout the 2017/18 ski season.

For many, it was too much to bear. Those with cash to spare rolled the powder dice and headed to Japan or North America while others dug out road bikes and climbing gear and headed off to warmer climes. One particular friend even considered breaking her leg to be suitable respite from the torture of hoping, wishing and praying for winter to finally show up and impart her cold, snowy love.

For those such as myself it was about digging in, being patient and determinedly seeking out those precious pockets of winter wherever they could be found. As it turned out I got pretty damn lucky. Whilst I didn't manage a whole heap of ski days last year, those I did enjoy were definite memory makers. From Scotland to the Alps and onwards to Norway, I ended up skiing some pretty fine powder last year and consider myself lucky to have done so.

The snow may not have been consistent but my choice of gear was.

My companions of choice throughout the challenging winter of 2016/17 were Patagonia's 3 layer GORE-TEX Refugitive Hardshell Jacket and Pants.

Here's how they stacked up: 


Patagonia Refugitive Jacket and Pants

If you're into irrelevant features and pastel colours then look away now as the lightweight, durable and no nonsense Refugitive Jacket and Pants are built for serious backcountry business.

The bold colours of the Refugitive combo reflect the purpose of the gear – to facilitate further, faster and more efficient progression in the mountains.

The Refugitive Jacket is a lightweight, breathable, stretchy 3 layer GORE-TEX hardshell with pit zips, large side pockets and a range of backcountry-specific features that will appeal to fans of alpine simplicity.

On a zero precipitation touring day, the Refugitive Jacket tends to stay in our pack until we reach the summit where we tend to pair it with the Nano Puff Bivy Pullover for the descent.

If things are a little chilly out however and there’s significant snowfall or higher winds on the cards, then we generally apply Rule 5 and the Refugitive for the ascent too. Used in conjunction with the Nano Air Light Hybrid, the Refugitive Jacket is sufficiently breathable to allow for efficient temperature regulation whilst offering the necessary protection against the elements.

We particularly like the cohaevisve technology which may be ridiculously hard to spell but enables you to adjust the hood and hem with one hand, leaving your other hand free to take selfies. Joke. Kind of.


The Refugitive Pants have become our go-to pants for every type of ski mission. Light and stretchy, breathable and robust, the waterproof and breathable Refugitive Pants will appeal to skiers who like long pants with a loose fit. Whilst we wouldn’t describe them as particularly ‘baggy’, they’re definitely roomy which is ideal if you’re looking to add layers underneath and/or value freedom of movement when skinning and bootpacking.

The navy colour of the Refugitive Pants is super smart and the side vents and large thigh pockets demonstrate their backcountry intent. The ability to vent is key on long hot spring skins and the easy access thigh pockets are perfect for carrying snacks and phones etc. Here at PG HQ, we like to carry our avalanche transceiver in our thigh pocket as it’s far easier to access than buried below multiple mid layers so are always on the lookout for large thigh pockets with attachments that don’t restrict movement. The Refugitive Pants deliver on all fronts.

Away from the skin track, the Refugitive Combo can also be used for regular alpine skiing when used as part of a well thought out layering system. We wore the Refugitive Jacket and Pants on a recent resort ski trip to the Dolomites where we spent 7 days ripping lift accessed terrain.

Having wondered whether the lightweight kit would be warm enough for resort skiing with it's associated long cold lift chairlift rides, we were pleasantly surprised by the performance and how well it stood up to a slightly different kind of challenge.

Again, layering was key and when paired with the Nano Air Light Hybrid (check out our pick of insulated mid layers for winter 2018), Nano Puff Bivvy Pullover and some decent merino baselayer leggings, we were kept warm, dry and comfortable all over. Having said that, if you're anticipating a combination of super low temps,stormy conditions, riding long lifts and/or skiing at a 'relaxed' pace, then you might want to bulk up a bit more. 

Initial Conclusions

The Refugitive jacket and pants are a super impressive and well thought out combo built for the backcountry that can also be used in resort with the appropriate layering system. Lightweight and robust, we've used the Refugitive jacket and pants in a variety of conditions and are yet to find any fault with the gear. No frills and fit for purpose - just how we like it.


The Nitty Gritty

Buy this combo – and you'll have no-nonsense, robust, good looking backcountry ski kit that can also be worn in resort if layered appropriately

If you buy this combo – you're likely to end up adding the Nano Hybrid Lite and Nano Puff to the layering system

Don’t buy this combo – if you're only going to be riding lifts in the resort on cold, snowy days. Take it into the backcountry where it truly belongs!

If you're looking for suggestions on any of the kit required for ski touring then get in touch via the Comments box below. Clothing, skis, bindings, boots, poles, avalanche safety gear....whether you're on a budget or looking for hi-tech kit, we can help point you in the right direction.

Where To Buy:

Patagonia UK

Thanks to David Roberts for the photos.


Refugitive Jacket

Weight: 374 g

Body: 3.1oz, 30 denier, 3-layer ripstop GORE-TEX.
Lower arms, upper back: 4ox, 40 denier, 3-layer stretch plain weave GORE-TEX.
All with Gore C-Knit backer and DWR

Other Features:

  • Cohaevise adjustment system - hood and hems can be adjusted with one hand 
  • Gore C-knit backer provides waterproof and windproof protection with inner comfort, reduced weight and increased breathability
  • Pockets - Two front, zipped, harness compatible, one small chest and one inner stash pocket and one small inner side pocket
  • Pit zips
  • RECCO safety technology
  • Patagonia's 'Ironclad Guarantee' - free exchange, refund or repair

Price:  £379

Refugitive Pants

Weight: 419 g

Fabric:  3-Layer, 4oz, 40 denier 100% nylon stretch plain weave GORE-TEX shell with GORE C-Knit backer technology and DWR

Other Features:

  • Articulated fit - for freedom of movement and flexibility
  • Gore C-knit backer provides waterproof and windproof protection with inner comfort, reduced weight and increased breathability
  • Pockets - Two large zipped thigh pockets and an additional smaller pocket above
  • Protection - Reinforced scuff guards
  • Venting - full upper leg side venting zips
  • RECCO safety technology
  • Patagonia's 'Ironclad Guarantee' - free exchange, refund or repair

Price:  £350

Brand Nationality:  United States of America


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