Designed with high mountain pursuits in mind, MEC’s 2023 Couloir kit consists of 3-layer Gore-Tex bib pants and a shell jacket. Fully waterproof and windproof, both the Couloir pants and jacket are made with recycled material, come in two colours, have a built-in Recco feature and include a Gore-Tex ‘C-knit’ internal membrane that makes them measurable lighter without sacrificing durability or breathability.
A killer combo against the elements, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall—MEC’s Couloir combo makes a great all-mountain kit for her or for him. To get down to the details, let’s divide the kit and conquer.
Consumers are always looking and expecting to find a softer, lighter weight, more durable and more breathable fabrics. The ‘C-Knit Backer’ which is used in both the couloir jacket and pants is a fabric variation designed by GORE-TEX that uses a dense and extremely thin circular weave for its internal membrane layer, which ultimately produces a less bulky and measurably lighter fabric that slides over mid layers with ease. Most importantly though, the GORE ‘C-Knit’ is just as durable as other GORE-TEX fabrics under the same umbrella, with increased breathability of up to 15%.
Seam-taped and constructed with C-Knit, the Couloir jacket feels pretty bomb-proof. The fabric is soft and supple but inspires confidence that it could handle a typical early-season alder bash without a hitch. Or the sacrifice of a stitch. The articulated fabric patterning in the sleeves allows for unrestricted arm movement, while the 2-way pit zips make for accessible venting. Velcro adjustments at the cuffs keep wind and snow out.
3-way drawcord adjustments are found on the helmet-compatible hood.
With a helmet-compatible hood, a built-in Recco feature and high pockets to accommodate a harness or a hipbelt, the Couloir is designed for skiers, climbers and hikers alike. The hood and hem have multiple embedded drawcord tabs, making for versatile and snag-free adjustments on the fly if the weather takes a turn. As for internal features, a mesh goggle pocket on your right side and a zippered one on your left give you plenty of storage options throughout the day.
Lastly, regarding sustainability, MEC’s Couloir jacket is made with recycled content and Bluesign-Certified material. This means that during its journey from initial design until its purchase off the rack, the Couloir jacket’s material production has met stringent sustainability criteria in areas such as resource use, OH&S, water and air emissions and consumer safety.
Much like the jacket, the Couloir pants are made with 3L recycled GORE-TEX fabric, and have a C-knit lining and a DWR finish, rating them high on my scale already thanks to fabric quality, feel and waterproofness. Coming midway up the torso, the bibs have adjustable suspenders and an elastic hem along the back, which gives them a comfortable and relaxed fit.
The Couloir bibs have long, 2-way zips along the outside of the legs, which allows for leg vent customizability. In my books though, pee access is just about as essential as temperature regulation, so the zip extension to the top was one of my favourite features. In layman’s terms… there’s a butt flap, and that’s key!
Like the jacket, the Couloir bibs have a built-in Recco feature and are made with recycled content and Bluesign-certified material. There are also three strategically placed zippered pockets: two pockets are on the thighs for quick access to gloves/a compass/etc. and one pocket on the chest keeps small essentials even closer.
I tested this kit out while on a trip with Golden Alpine Holidays over Christmas, and it was stormy out there! The Couloir bibs exceeded my expectations. So much so, that I’ll be swapping them out in place of my current ones, indefinitely. The relaxed fit, articulated fabric patterning and elastic back allowed them to sit comfortably during any kind of movement or stretched position. The pockets are deep enough to hold all the essentials like a phone, gloves, snow screen, CLIF bar or map. The leg vents and side-access ‘bum-flap’ are versatile, although one zipper per side lacks an extended pull tab – making it difficult to grab with gloves on. The reinforced kick patches are the final design feature that won me over, as the interior leg hems are high-abrasion hot spots when touring and sledding. Altogether, great bibs!
As for the jacket, high scores go to the quality and softness of the fabric, but I found the hip length was a touch short for a snow jacket – especially one without a powder skirt. As it is designed for multiple activities though, the Couloir would make a superior climbing or hiking jacket, especially as it has a helmet-compatible hood, multiple storm adjustment options, easy underarm venting access and strategically placed high outer pockets. In a snow-specific setting though, I also found the sleeve cuffs to be a little narrow and difficult to shimmy over my mitts before dropping in to ride.
MEC Couloir Jacket
Price: $499.95CAN / $372.00US
Colours: Obsidian, Deep Navy/Dark Neptune
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
MEC Couloir Bib-Pants
Price: $459.95CAN / $342.00US
Colours: Obsidian, Deep Navy/Dark Neptune
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
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