Pro snowboarder Freddy Ansara let me in on a secret: the fabrics, zippers, and seams used in the current “gold standard” winter coats could be better.
Freddy Ansara, professional snowboarder sponsored by the likes of Burton, rides hard. And over the years he has had gear fail him in both high-pressure situations and no-pressure situations, but always accompanied by justified frustration.
After researching the industry, he discovered something: a secret he shared with me and would love for you to know, too. The fabrics, zippers, and seams used in the current “gold standard” winter coats could be better. And, if each seam, zipper, and fabric choice is made with quality as the first and foremost priority, the resulting jacket isn’t just better — it’s a lot better.
Freddy is a man of action, and rather than sit on this secret he set out to create this quality-first jacket. He founded FA Design, humbly reducing his name to an acronym that could mean anything and letting the quality of his product speak for itself.
The result is impressive. FA Design’s line of snowboarding and snowsports apparel breathes like a base layer but is impermeable like a plastic membrane, tough enough for days bushwhacking in the backcountry but flexible enough to not really notice you’re wearing anything at all.
FA Design’s Sonic Series – Just the Beginning
FA Design has several different collections, all of which are impressive and built for specific needs. For the purposes of this article, with the goal of highlighting the innovations FA Design brings to the table, we’re going to focus on this jacket: the 3L Subsonic Hardshell.
The fabric is an ultrasoft eVent 3-layer waterproof and breathable layer, which is essentially what GOR-TEX should be but isn’t. It’s super light, super breathable, and full-on waterproof at the same time.
Take a look at the cuffs on this coat. You’ll notice something unique: there’s no velcro cuff cinch. Instead, Freddy uses an oval tapered design that gives your wrist range of motion but protects its outside. The built-in wrist gaiter keeps snow out, making this the ideal minimal wrist cuff, even if it’s one you probably haven’t used before.
The minimal design streamlines your experience, giving you the best of exactly what you need and nothing more — no excess. Freddy has taken this to such an extreme that he actually cuts down the zipper’s left and right trim fabric on the factory-delivered zipper. Compare this with almost every other jacket, which use the factory-delivered zipper as-is. The result is a zipper that does not buckle and wave when seated or bent over. It’s a minor detail, but this coat is a coat of minor details. All of which come together to make a major difference.
This cord lock feature will save you time when you need it most. Have you ever been stuck at the top of a powdery pitch fooling around with the cord around your waist — or worse yet, craning your neck to see the cord that runs through your hood? FA Design removes that pain with this Cohaesive™ Cord Lock System. Just pull the cord to cinch the system, and squeeze the circle to release. Elegant, like the rest of the coat.
The subsonic hardshell is also available in a pant as well, bringing the same benefits to your lower half.
So how much do these innovations cost? All told, it’s a fair price.
The 3L Subsonic Hardshell Jacket retails for 659 CAD, or 459 USD at the time of this writing.
PS – I had the chance to try out the FA Design’s extreme-temp coat as well: the Auxiliary Jacket, which features similar benefits as the Subsonic, plus Primaloft lining to make it suitable for the coldest temps. The Auxiliary Jacket is the lightest climate control insulated on the market. The innovations above combined with Primaloft fill mean you can wear it with just a base layer and be comfortable all day in any temperature. Stay in the loop with FA Design on their site here.