This season, I was embedded in Silverton, Colo., for the entire month of January. As I was staying at a friend’s guesthouse, I couldn’t show up with the usual cabal of skis, boots, and apparel that a SKI Magazine Gear Editor would be expected to have. So the gear I selected needed to hold up to some of the harshest winter conditions in Colorado, including numerous trips into the ski area’s exposed alpine terrain, ski touring throughout the Northern San Juan Mountains, and, fortunately enough, barreling through waist-deep powder every day during my final week on location.
Of the few jackets I brought to test in Silverton, the Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity 2.0 Jacket quickly became my go-to for every trip to the ski area or backcountry trailhead. Built with Helly Hansen LIFA Infinity membrane and a LIFA face fabric, this jacket does not require a factory DWR application—which is usually harmful to the environment, particularly for drinking water—or any sort of annual touch-up by the consumer.
Instead, the LIFA material is engineered to be incredibly hydrophobic, and the face fabric is woven in a way to be waterproof and breathable on its own. Add in the additional membrane, and the result is an extremely technical jacket that can hold up in wet, snowy conditions as well as any other ski shell on the market (and, in the dry snows of Colorado, even better than most). Considering all the bad stuff that goes into standard DWR applications, the fact that Helly Hansen doesn’t use any in the creation of the LIFA Infinity Pro is a sustainability story worth noting.
While the technical fabric element is important, there were a few other reasons why the Helly Hansen LIFA Infinity Pro 2.0 jacket became my go-to jacket every time I went skiing at Silverton, as well as for most of the rest of the season. First off, it’s just super comfortable. The cut is perfectly roomy to accommodate a variety of midlayers as well as extend past most skiers’ wrists and waists to keep the elements at bay. While the jacket feels a little heavy in hand, it’s hardly noticeable when skiing. And the oversized, fleece-lined collar is nice on the face when it’s cold on the lift.
There are also plenty of standard Helly Hansen features that the brand seems to have dialed. The LIFA pocket insulates your phone or other electronics, which means the heat from your body and the device keep the device warm and with a charged battery. The no-frills pit zips are easy to manage and dump heat quickly, and oversized Velcro in key spots makes fit adjustments easy (and they stick in place). Built in RECCO Reflectors and the bright-orange hood add elements of safety as well.
I used the Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity Shell with the Ridge Infinity Bibs while at Silverton. While the bibs are great in their own right, the combination of the two led to the only issue I had with the jacket. The overbuilt powder skirt is non-removable, and while the sticky silicone lining on the skirt is great for keeping it in place, it’s overkill when used with bibs. A removable option is the only thing holding this jacket back from being perfect.
The only other “meh” thing about this new Helly Hansen option is the exterior waist pockets. Their openings are horizontal, which is great for being able to drop things into. But if you forget to zip them up on a powder day, they fill up quickly with snow. And, when wearing the jacket while bar-hopping during après, they are hard to comfortably use to keep hands warm. These are minor details, and certainly a trade-off for having backpack waist strap compatibility, which is probably more important overall.
While the price of this jacket is certainly high, the quality, technology, and durability are at incredible levels compared to every other brand on the market. Add in the DWR-free sustainability story, and it’s clear the Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity 2.0 jacket is a worthy investment for any North American skier.