I have ridden snow- and/or frost-covered lifts from open to close in Las Leñas and Alta; I’ve skied storms at both locations, plus a powder day at Bridger Bowl. So far this jacket has been absolutely 100% waterproof.
Currently, all liquid beads off the jacket like a freshly waxed car thanks to a properly functioning durable water repellent (DWR) coating. Of course, time will tell how well that DWR lasts. Regardless, I’ll be sticking to the recommendation of refreshing the DWR once a season when that time comes.
While I have found the jacket to perform exemplarily well in this waterproofing department thus far, I am looking forward to testing the jacket in warmer, heavier, spring storm systems. If I find any fault, I will provide an update.
Breathability / Venting
If you are the sweating type, this is a great jacket for you. The Unification Pro jacket is unquestionably incredibly breathable.
For ski touring, resort boot packing, and warm-weather riding, this jacket has been one of the best additions to my collection. The Unification Pro far outperforms my North Face Brakeman shell (2L HyVent), my Helly Hanson shell (with 15g/m2/24hr rating jacket), and multiple EMS system3 laminated jackets I’ve owned. Of course, all of those jackets were also half the cost of the Unification Pro.
During the Blister trip to Las Leñas, I was able to ski in very warm (~50 F) temps. We also routinely booted up Cerro Martin in temperatures above 32 F. I have to admit I frequently over-layered for hikes early in the trip and found myself sweating on the steeper pitches. I remember being very surprised in the jacket by how quickly my body temperature came back under control and how my sweating quickly stopped when the pitch decreased. I also recall being impressed that the inside of the jacket gave only a slight hint of being damp, knowing from experience all of my previous jackets would have been soaked from my sweat.
On another occasion more recently, I found myself stair-mastering up a booter at Bridger Bowl. The hike wasn’t super long, maybe 10 minutes, and the temps were probably right around freezing. The face, however, was wind sheltered and getting blasted by the sun (keep in mind my jacket is black). Nearly every person on the hike had their helmets and jackets off, and most still had a vigorous sweat going. I had on an IceBreaker 200g long sleeve shirt, along with my Scott Decoder mid-layer, and every lap of the hike I simply unzipped the main zipper about 8-10”, popped open the pit/arm zips, and remained very comfortable. I can’t say I didn’t break a slight sweat, but, again, once on the ridgeline, my body temp lowered quickly, sweating ceased, and the inside of the jacket was dry.
The Unification Pro jacket is a shell—that is, only a single piece of a layering system. It delivers incredible wind and water protection but offers basically zero insulating value. As with any layering system, using the appropriate-weight base and mid layers is extremely important to be comfortable in a variety of temperatures. This is very much the case when layering up for cold temperature with the Unification Pro jacket.
I’m pretty “warm blooded” (I don’t get cold easily), and so far I have found my ideal layers for most ski touring outings (or while riding resort with temps above 20F), to consist of a base layer, like my IceBreaker 200g long sleeve (I have multiple), a Hot Chillys thermal long sleeve, and a mid weight insulator like my Scott Decoder jacket. This setup will be a little chilly if my activity levels are on the low side, but as long as I’m skiing fairly hard at the resort or constantly keep moving while touring, these layers have worked very well.
Resort riding with temperatures much below 20F, however, is where I have run into my only problem with the jacket (aside from dropping my phone). With what I personally have available for layering pieces, it is hard to insulate well enough without the overall feel becoming slightly restricted. Most of my toasty mid-layers are thicker fleece pieces, which take up room. If you have super warm, low-volume base and mid layers, however, you likely will not run into this problem like I have.
I have to admit when I first held the Unification Pro jacket and pants I didn’t believe they would shine in the durability category. The jacket feels like a paper-thin tracksuit. I also have to admit that my days in Las Leñas didn’t put the jacket through much stress—there were no trees to be found, and I didn’t feel like taking the risk of tomahawking down a rocky face for the benefit of this review. (Sorry.)
Since returning to Alta, however, I have tried to put the jacket to the test as much as possible. In typical fashion, most of my days have been lapping the trees of the Eagle’s Nest. While I have definitely grazed and even snagged up on a few broken branches, the jacket has remained perfectly intact, not even showing any real scratch marks. The only damage I have been able to do so far happened when a broken tree sticking into the air parallel to the ground tagged my arm and tried to peel off the Recco reflector. The tree was unsuccessful, but it did do a little bit of damage to the threads holding the reflector on, and peeled a very small portion of the reflector (~3mm) away. To my surprise, the severe blow and tugs on the thread had zero effect on the shell itself.
After 30 days, I’ve been very please with how the jacket is holding up. I wouldn’t necessarily consider that be a ton of days in a jacket, but from what I’ve seen so far it doesn’t appear as though the jacket is going to have many problems.
Based on my experience thus far, the Oakley Unification Pro is a great choice for an individual looking for a shell that delivers exceptional wind and water protection while maintaining a very high degree of breathability. The fit and packability of the jacket should also appeal specifically to those who spend a lot of time in the backcountry working for their turns.