Northwest Tech, or NWT3K for short, has grown up from a newschool-steeze company to a legit all-mountain performance outerwear player. Founded by Pacific Northwest native Nick Marvik and former San Francisco techie Ryan Downing, NWT3K lets you individually design the colorways of the torso, hood, sleeves, and zippers, and choose from 16 different pocket layouts on the jacket alone, via any internet-connected device.
Three weeks after clicking “buy now,” a custom-built, seam-taped, made-in-America, 20k/20k waterproof-breathable outerwear kit will arrive in the mail. The pricing for something this custom—about $370 for a jacket without special add-ons—is on par with most other jackets built with the same technical specifications.
For my custom NWT3K design, I went with their ski-specific custom jacket and pants, but upgraded to a bib pant and added ventilation zippers for the armpits and inner thighs. The full kit arrived faster than advertised, taking only two weeks to be produced and delivered. Trying the gear on out of the box, the cut was comfortably loose, but the jacket and pants were significantly less baggy than what I wore as a recreational park skier in high school.
The most noticeable detail of the jacket and bibs is that they are made for extremely wet conditions. The three-layer shell fabric is stout, and the thick DWR coating is palpable. The kit has no insulation, and instead features a soft mesh lining underneath the nylon shell. If you ski in a place that deals with wet, heavy snow with some occasional rain (looking at you, west coast), you'll feel right at home and quite dry in a NWT3K kit.
After spending some quality time in my personally-designed NWT3K gear at Colorado's Winter Park and Arapahoe Basin ski resorts this season, I felt it was a solid outerwear kit overall, but it lacked anything that made it truly stand out beyond the fact that I designed it. It's really waterproof, fully breathable, and looks great (to me, at least). The kit doesn't have Gore-Tex, four-way stretch fabric, or a built-in reservoir for drinking water, but the fact that my NWT3K kit lacks these bells-and-whistles and still functions properly is pretty refreshing. The technology built into the jacket and pants is simple, effective and keeps the elements out. The fact that I selected the colors and pockets makes the kit especially endearing.
The only issue I could find to gripe about are the ventilation zippers. In the jacket, the pit zips were more like side zips, as they didn't quite make it from the side of the jacket to the underarms. The oversized zipper sliders on the pants tend to clack together while walking or ski touring. Both vent options add $30 each to the design cost, and unless you get sweaty oblique muscles or have a thigh gap (which I certainly don't), these add-ons didn't seem worth it.
Otherwise, if you're tired of the same-old jackets and colorways that everyone else already has, stand out in the crowd by designing your own NWT3K kit for the coming winter.