Monday, February 10, 2020

TOBE Outerwear Review: Youth Novus Jackets and Bib Snow Pants

My son has lived in his one-piece Novus Mono Suit from TOBE Outerwear for the past couple of years and wow, did we love that suit! We nicknamed the suit "Big Red" and it got to go out and play every time we headed to the ski hill, ventured into the backcountry, or took off for a wild mountain adventure.

Testing out the new TOBE Novus Jackets and Bib Snow Pants

Sadly, children grow, and "Big Red" had to go find a new home this winter. Fortunately, our friends at TOBE Outerwear were happy to work with us for another season or two, this time switching it up with a two-piece snow suit.

Background: Why TOBE Outerwear 

I remember when I first discovered TOBE a few years ago now and how impressed I was when I started doing some research into the company. 

Straight from their website:
"Designed by Vikings in Sweden. Built for backcountry conditions across the world. 
We design gear for a specific purpose - to keep you warm, dry and safe in whatever snowsport you pursue and wherever your adventures lead. 
Our motivation and determination to create the world's most reliable high-performance gear for the backcountry is renewed and intensified every day by the stories and experiences of the people we've had the privilege to protect in seasons past."

We have never been your "average" outdoor family, and when I say we're going skiing, it could mean that we're skiing into a backcountry hut for the weekend or that we're going downhill resort skiing (in -30 C weather.)

It was -35 C this weekend and my son was warm skiing in his TOBE Mono Suit

When I say we're going ice skating, it often means we're skating out into the middle of a wild windy mountain lake. And "come on a winter hike with us" usually means you'd better bring spikes for your boots, plan on getting wet, and dress the kids in their most rugged snow pants that won't get holes in them from bum sliding down a rocky icy path. This is our life, and it's why we need quality clothing like TOBE Outerwear.

You can read more about the TOBE Novus Mono Suit that my son first started out on in this review here: Guaranteed Warmth with TOBE Youth Mono Suits

We fell in love with the TOBE Mono Suit

Moving up to the TOBE Novus Jacket and Bib Snow Pants

While we were sad to let the Mono Suit go, at age 11 my son was definitely ready for a two-piece snow suit (like all the other kids his age wear) and he'd been commenting on how he felt a bit "babyish" in a one-piece suit. I disagreed and thought the indestructible Mono Suit was beyond rad, but it's hard to argue with a tween who wants to look the same as his friends.

We wanted to choose a brightly colored jacket so that we could easily recognize our son on the ski hill but if you choose the "Formula red" color for your child, there is a surprising amount of "dark pink" on the back of the jacket/suit that's not always shown on the website photos. My son was occasionally referred to as my husband's "daughter" while skiing in the red Mono Suit.

My son never really seemed to notice the amount of pink on his Mono Suit, but to be safe, we decided to go with a traditional "blue aster" color for the new Novus jacket along with the dark ink colored bib pants (the only color option for pants.)

Moving up to the TOBE Novus Jacket and Bib Snow Pants

TOBE Novus Jacket Review

I've broken this down into the top questions I know you all want answered: Is it worth the price, is it waterproof, is it windproof, is it durable, and is it warm? The answer is YES to those questions if you're short on time and want to skip ahead.

Outdoor clothing that's waterproof, durable, and warm!

Is it worth the price? I'm going to lose a bunch of you here with this one because the Novus Jacket is $259.99 if you buy it new. Is it worth that much for a ski jacket? Yes.

Consider that many/most families have more than one child and that you should get two years out of the jacket per child as long as you don't buy it too small. Because of the quality of the jacket, you'll easily get 4+ years out of the jacket - and it'll probably still look brand new when you go to sell it. So that's $65.00 per year for a quality winter jacket if it's worn for four seasons. If you have more than two children the price goes down even lower.

If you only have one child, it gets more expensive and you'll have to decide for yourself if you can justify the cost. Fortunately, the resale price for TOBE clothing is high so you should be able to get a decent amount back when you pass the jacket on to another family.

As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for" and that's the case with TOBE clothing. You'll pay for a durable jacket that will keep your child warm in ALL winter conditions, no matter how extreme.

Keep your kids warm in all conditions in a quality TOBE Novus Jacket this winter 

Is it waterproof? My son has been wearing this jacket on all of our resort ski trips, and it was raining at the bottom of the hill on one trip. On all of these trips my son's Novus jacket has never felt wet on the inside and I've never had to dry it out after a day of skiing. Even the outside of the jacket always feels dry to the touch.

Is it windproof? We've primarily used this as a ski jacket at resorts and we all know it gets windy at the top of a mountain. What you might not know is that my son hates wind (vehemently hates it.) He's never complained once about the wind though while wearing his Novus jacket. I'd call that a success.

TOBE makes outerwear you can trust to keep the kids warm and dry on the slopes

Is it durable? So far our Novus jacket has only touched snow and ice, but my son has taken some good wipeouts on his skis and has brushed up against trees in the glades without the jacket so much as showing a mark.

The seams are fully sealed, the jacket is double stitched, and the Aquaguard zipper is strong enough to take a beating. (Myself, I'll pay more just to have a strong zipper.)

Is it warm? We were super curious about this one because the jacket is not insulated. It's a Nylon hard shell jacket and not one of those 3-in-1 type jackets so popular at ski hills. My husband was convinced that it wouldn't be warm enough on the ski hill without layering underneath.

My husband wears a hard shell skiing but also has to wear a separate heavy fleece windproof jacket underneath (sometimes even a light puffy insulated jacket if it's really cold.) - Clearly though he's not wearing a TOBE jacket.

So far, our son has never had to wear anything under his Novus jacket other than his base layer shirt and a light fleece hoodie as a mid layer. Granted we haven't had a -30 C ski day yet, but we have had a backcountry touring day where it was at least -25 and he was toasty warm in the jacket. He's also spent hours outside in the jacket sledding and playing in the snow while it was easily -20, again in complete warmth.

So yes, the jacket is crazy warm and you shouldn't need to add extra layers underneath it beyond your normal base/mid layers. We have yet to pull out a light puffy or insulated coat to add warmth.

It was easily -25 C this weekend and he was toasty warm in his TOBE Novus jacket 

Other factors we like about the Novus Jacket: 

  • It is breathable. My son's fleece hoodie is never damp underneath, he never appears to have been sweating, and he doesn't complain about being hot. (I know with my own insulated ski jacket I alternate between feeling hot and cold, and definitely feel sweaty when I take it off after a warm ski day.)

  • It has great pockets!! It has two big pockets for stashing snacks on the ski hill and it has a separate card holder pocket for his ski pass at chest height. All pockets have zippers.

  • We love the hood. So far we haven't really used the hood because we're always skiing with the coat, but I could see it being very useful in the rain! The hood provides great coverage and would shelter my son's face from rain, snow, or wind if hiking. The hood is also removable should you choose to take it off.

  • There is Velcro at the cuffs to synch in the sleeves If you want a tighter fit around gloves.

  • We like the bright color contrast of the zipper because it makes the jacket stand out.

  • There is venting at the  collar. If your child pulls the collar all the way up to keep their neck or face warm on a windy day, they will still have air holes to help them breathe easily.

  • Reflective piping

Shopping tips for the Novus Jacket: I'd recommend buying a size larger than your child's age. We got size 140 (age 10) but I fear my son will only fit the jacket for a year. It's sufficiently big now, but it's the perfect fit without much room to grow.

Read more about the TOBE Novus Jacket here from the website.

TOBE makes durable clothing you can trust!

TOBE Novus Bib Pants Review

Are they worth the price? - This is another pricey item at $259.99 if you buy the bib pants brand new. Again, it comes down to getting what you paid for, outfitting your child in quality clothing that can withstand the elements, and knowing you'll never have to fix holes, patch rips, or buy new pants mid-season after they've worn out.

My son wears cheap snow pants from Walmart when he goes to school on cold days and they're fine. They get him to school and back. However, I wouldn't let him wear them on the ski hill where I want to be confident that he'll stay warm and dry all day. Also, are his cheap snow pants waterproof? - No. Could he slide down a rocky trail on his bum without tearing holes in them? - No (which I know for fact.)

I've patched up more pairs of cheap snow pants than I can count over the years. Invest in TOBE gear though and you're buying a pair of snow pants that will survive several years of use, go through multiple children, and still look new.

Quality bib snow pants that will last years of use!

Are they waterproof? Yes! My son has been wearing these pants on all of our ski days and his base layers underneath are never damp. I can't say the same for his school snow pants which are always soaked when we take them off - even after light skating or walking.

I've never even had to dry the TOBE bib pants out after a heavy day of skiing deep powder, sledding, or playing in backcountry snow banks. They honestly never feel wet to the touch, inside or on the outside.

Think of an indestructible shell that repels all moisture and that's what you're getting.

Are they windproof? We've had no complaints here. Nothing gets through these pants! Not snow, not wind, not moisture... Nothing.

You can spend the whole day outside and TOBE gear never feels wet to the touch

Are they durable? I'd cringe every time my son would slide down a rocky trail on his bum while wearing his TOBE Mono Suit, always fearing holes, but it never happened. The one-piece suits and the bib pants are both made with the same durable rugged fabric. Your child is virtually indestructible in these pants and you might as well be giving him or her a super suit.

As with the jacket, the seams are fully sealed, the zippers are strong, and the fabric is double stitched for rugged use.

Are they warm? My son wears a thin pair of long underwear bottoms along with a pair of fleece pants underneath his TOBE bib pants. He's never complained about his legs being cold. We had some very chilly ski days while wearing the one-piece suit, and his legs were always warm (down to -35C or colder.) The bib pants are constructed to be equally warm.

As with the jacket, the pants are not insulated but most children will be wearing layers underneath the pants so this should never be a problem. There is fleece padding in the seat area.

Ski resort to backcountry trails, your child won't be cold in TOBE clothing 

Other factors we like about the bib pants:

  • These are bib snow pants with great coverage. If you're out cross-country skiing or hiking on a warm day, your child could take off their jacket, and still have a good portion of their chest covered thanks to these bib pants.

    They offer amazing coverage and protection from the elements and no snow is going to get  between the pants and the jacket.  (There is no pant/jacket gap.)

  • The pants fit large to allow for more than one season of use. Note that even though they fit large, they never seem to drag on the ground. They're just baggy with loose suspenders that will grow with my child.

  • You can easily layer under the pants. If you're looking for a slim fit pair of snow pants, this is not it. These pants are nice and baggy so your child can move around, play in the snow, get up after falling down, and layer underneath.

    On a warm day you could easily have a hoodie underneath the suspenders without a jacket overtop and it would fit with comfort.

  • The pants have two large pockets for stashing snacks on the ski hill.

  • Reinforced knees!!! Every parent knows this one is important because it's impossible to keep kids off the ground. It's also important when ice skating so you don't get holes in the knees.

  • Reinforced boot bands. I bought a new pair of snow pants for myself and they are already showing wear and tear around the boot band from walking to and from the ski hill from the parking lot. Meanwhile, my son's TOBE bib pants still look like new.

    I appreciated the heavy duty construction of the one-piece suit as well for this reason. The pant legs never look beaten up, torn, or ragged where they brush against the ground.

  • Reflective piping on the legs. 

The TOBE Bib snow pants are very comfortable for all winter sports

Shopping tips for the Novus Bib pants: These pants fit large. We got size 140 (age 10) and my son will easily get two years out of them. They're quite baggy now and the suspenders are a bit loose.

Read more about the TOBE Novus Bib Pants here from the website.

Toasty warm in the backcountry in TOBE Bib Snow Pants 

Overall Recommendation 

I realize that a $500.00 snow suit will not be in the budget for every family out there. The average child can most definitely survive winter as well with a more affordable clothing option. That being said, we loved our TOBE Mono Suit and we are seeing the same great quality with the Novus jacket and bib pants. 

Winter outings are stressful enough without having to worry about cold children who feel grumpy and miserable because they aren't comfortable. We are confident that we can take our son anywhere this winter, in any conditions, in any temperature - and that he'll be warm. 

Investing in quality winter clothing is something you'll never regret and it definitely makes for easier days on the ski hill, in the backcountry, or out on snowy trails. 

We'll always have challenges when we head outside, but warmth won't be one of them. Comfort has been secured and guaranteed for us this winter.

Comfort and warmth guaranteed this winter with TOBE outerwear 

Disclaimer: My son was given a TOBE Novus Jacket and pair of Bib Pants for this review. As always, all opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any other way.  

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