The Snozone fleece does a fine all-around job, performing…
Fabric: Polartec Wind Pro
Price Paid: $80 at Mountain Gear, mgear.com
The Snozone fleece does a fine all-around job, performing well as a breathable outer jacket and excellent as an insulating (mid) layer. This fleece I prefer over others for cool weather ski trips or backpacking where activity is high, as it vents better than laminated products and is not bulky or heavy. From a closet full of specialized high-tech thoroughbreds, this turns out to be the dirty workhorse.
Snozone is durable, the brushed nap has not pilled. The stretch wrist cuffs keep wind out of the arms and stretch drawcords seal at the waist and neck. Once so trimmed it is snug and effective. Its zipper is compatible with shells that take zip-in liners, the length happening to fit some Sierra Designs shells as well as Mountain Hardwear.
Snozone is 'wind resistant', blocking wind about 80%, not completely like laminate products such as Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Tech or Patagonia R4. The Snozone is relatively thin (like 100 weight but dense) and of medium fit, making it suitable for layering in athletic pursuits; the sleeves do not ride up. It has a DWR coating to fend off light moisture such as snow but is not as repellant as fleeces with lamination layers such as those noted.
The Snozone was discontinued after 2005. The Mountain Hardwear Ozone Jacket available as of this writing is similar but lacks the outer chest (Napoleon) pocket. It might perhaps be hoped to find the Snozone in future re-launched with detail improvements, as this seems to be a practice among the high-end gear makers.
I recently acquired a Patagonia LW R4 jacket, which seems to have everything, including a windblocking layer, in a thin trim package, although the wrist cuffs are not as close a seal. The LW R4 might take the Snozone's place.