Over the years, I’ve worn hard shells from companies like OR, Scott, and TREW, which all have their own, proprietary 3L fabrics, and the Environ is one of the most breathable hard shells I’ve worn. On a typical 10-20ºF day in the backcountry, I kept the Environ on more often than not while climbing, whereas I may have taken off a less breathable shell sooner. The underarm vents certainly helped this, as they moved air effectively through the jacket.
Since the jacket has a relatively low profile, it is easy to throw on a down jacket over the shell during longer stops on a tour and on cold, windy days. But ultimately, the Environ prevented me from constantly having to stop to adjust my layers, allowing me focus more on moving efficiently and having fun. The Environ also packs down really small (about the size of a Nalgene water bottle) and weighs less than one pound, making it a great jacket for backcountry skiing.
As I mentioned above, my first impression of the Environ was that it feels quite light and supple, partially because the jacket doesn’t have many bells and whistles. The Environ doesn’t have a powder skirt, for example, which I don’t mind.
My favorite feature on the Environ are its cuffs. Rather than a typical velcro closure, the cuffs have small zippers at the opening of the sleeves. The little zippers are easy to use, and the way they sit within the sleeves’ material at the wrists isn’t bothersome. The cuffs have a gusset under the zipper, so that when unzipped, the sleeves have a wide opening that can fit easily over my gloves. Occasionally, the sleeve will slip off my gloves, but I haven’t found this to happen more often than with any other jacket I’ve used with velcro cuffs.
The Environ has three simple exterior pockets. There is one small chest pocket that can fit a ski pass or goggle wipe and two hand pockets that are fairly shallow and backed with the same shell material as the jacket’s exterior. The hand pockets are big enough to hold a few smaller items, like a granola bar or cell phone. The Environ also has two interior mesh pockets; one has a zipper closure, while the other stash pocket does not. The open stash pocket is not big enough to hold skins, but is perfect for carrying a pair of goggles or light gloves.
The Environ has a nice hood that is big enough to wear comfortably over a helmet, but tightens down easily to wear over a beanie / hat. It has a low profile brim made with a slightly thicker fabric that protects the face well from snow and rain.
Personally, I always like having a hood on my ski jacket, but for those who don’t, the Environ’s hood is detachable via a zipper around the collar. This feature seems a bit out of place on a jacket that has such a light build otherwise, and I’d like to see a version of the Environ with a fixed hood in order to cut down on weight and bulk.
I’ve really come to appreciate the Stio Environ’s simplicity; the jacket’s minimal feature set keeps the cost and weight down, and its shell fabric is light and extremely comfortable. I also love the Environ’s versatility when it comes to splitting time between skiing inbounds and in the backcountry; however, if you’re going to encounter a lot of harsh, wet conditions, a jacket with a higher waterproof rating would probably be more appropriate.