I did thorough gore pro shell (so if you are looking at other materials, this wont really help!!) shopping for this winder, something fresh from this current season. I tried all the major brands available @ REI with my helmet, midlayer, etc before buying. Here are some thoughts from my time/experiences shopping around:
arc sidewinder: offset zipper too annoying when not fully zipped. sick jacket if you can get over that little fact, but I wanted something that could also be worn casually off the slopes. also noted that I didn't really like colors available - but the design of the jacket itself is sick - it does look great. The zipper is what killed it for me.
pata powslayer: now this one for me the best in S since it's huge. I really wanted to buy this one, but the hood could not fit ANY ONE helmet @ the seattle REI (buying coat + helmet this winter). It was pathetic, and me along with a couple of the staff couldn't believe that a $680 coat made for skiing, advertised as having a ski helmet compatible hood, had what seemed to be this blatant design flaw
Went to the pata store, had one of their employees help me fit it with a helmet they had - a smith vantage (I was still in disbelief this hood was too small for a helmet - that and I really liked the coat except this fact)... well sure enough, we could not get it to fit at the store, as much as the other employees joined in and tried helping...
I ended up e-mailing patagonia asking them what helmet they designed their so called helmet compatible hood with, and I got a reply saying the Giro nine.10... went back to REI, tried it, and sure enough, the hood is simply to big to fully go over the helmet... again we had a laugh with the staff after I told them about the e-mail...
I actually did email patagonia back, and I made them aware of this issue -they confirmed they were NOT aware of it - yet they wouldn't even acknowledge it!! they apologized for the inconvenience and told me to have a great day... sigh I really liked that coat, but if they wont even make an attempt to fix this... not putting my money there
I feel bad for anyone purchases this expensive coat in a S or M like I was trying, gets to the mountain, it starts snowing, and has to come to the nice realization that the hood doesn't fit.
I ended up settling for the North Face FreeThinker... The fit wasn't as nice on me as the pata (since I'm tall and pata's stuff seems to be cut bigger than normal- their S works for me but TNF S is way too short), BUT the hood fit perfectly with my smith maze, and it just feels all around great. It feels like it does not inhibit range of motion looking around with everything on, just feels like it was designed and cut very well (this is not to say the other's aren't - everything you find in this price range is - I just want to stress that I really do like the work/thought put into the freethinker) I am very happy with it and I think it looks sick!
I am glad I shopped around before settling as I am someone who gets terrible buyers' remorse post expensive purchases.
The Enzo is 50 bux cheaper, but I liked the look of the FreeThinker - since they come in different color combinations. The latter is also more bombproof (thicker shell - although every coat here has lifetime warranty)
anyways, I hope my first hand experiences help someone here!
Last edited by laxinchili; 11-29-2012 at 03:31 AM.