The Forecaster jacket and pant are 241 Clothing Design’s premium outerwear set. When the weatherman says it’s storm time, are they all the environmental protection you need?
241 Clothing Design is the outerwear company founded by snowboard legend, Mike Basich in 1991. While Mike has captured the snowboard media’s imagination with his off-the-grid living and his pioneering of selfies long before smartphones – yes, that helicopter drop! – his outerwear brand has gone under many people’s radar. If you looked closely, you might have seen 241 outerwear keeping Nagano native, Shin Biyajima, warm and dry as he flew around the Japanese powder with Travis Rice. 241 Clothing Design has built a core following in Japan since 1992, where it combines Mike’s independent rider-driven philosophy with quality construction.
If you are a snowboarder chasing powder and good lines both in resort and the backcountry, finding outerwear that can handle it all in style can be a challenge. All too often you are left with a hard choice of alpine function or resort fashion. The 241 Forecaster jacket and pants caught our eye with their combination of features and style, and we put them to the test this past winter.
241 Forecaster Jacket
Powder protection is the name of the game here. 241’s flagship jacket is a fully-featured 2-layer gore-tex shell with a mix of mesh and taffeta lining. The first thing you notice when you pick up the Forecaster jacket is the burly feel of the fabric. Not too heavy, thanks to the 140D nylon shell material (which means that one 9km strand of the fabric weighs 140g), it has a slightly textured weave with a solid and rugged feel. Putting it on, you feel like you can confidently push tight tree run branches aside without risking tears, and after a full season of regular use, there are no obvious signs of wear. The lining and tough exterior fabric make the Forecaster heavier than a pure backcountry shell, but make up for this in features, comfort and durability.
While there are a full compliment of features you’d expect to find on a high-end jacket, it is the powder-specific details that really make this jacket stand out. The single-handed drawcord compression of the hood cinches it nicely on your head. This gives good peripheral vision when riding with the hood up in storm conditions, as the hood turns with your head. The hood is well cut and can fit over a helmet smoothly, without feeling too tight or restricting movement. I’ve never been a fan of riding with my hood up – it tends to feel a bit constrained – but the 241 Forecaster jacket is one of the few jackets that felt fine for this, which was a bonus on heavy storm days.
The cut of the collar is on point as it stands up nicely for storm protection, without redirecting your breath up to your goggles.
The cuffs feature a sturdy velcro tab which pulls on an internal elasticated band inside the cuff, pulling the whole cuff powder-tight around your glove:
This a longer cut jacket which personally I really like – no waist gaps when reaching for grabs, and no boxy early 2000’s wide and baggy looks here. It does make it slightly less suitable for long multi-hour hikes, unless you cinch in the bottom hem elastic. For shorter hikes or boot-packing through powder, the longer fit gives great protection. The extra length combines with the waist gaiter on the Forecaster pants for bib-like protection.
I found the jacket and pants to be windproof and warm. When you need to dump heat, the vents were smooth opening on both jacket and pants. I like having the mesh lining so you can ride with vents open without getting snow down inside. One minor improvement would be moving the pit zips higher up and round onto the under arm, to give better access with pack straps, as this jacket wants to be used out of bounds.
The sleeves are also nice and long, with internal Lycra wrist gaiters – so you can reach for cross rocket grabs… and hot-tub into powder without the old ‘snow up the sleeves’. Some people don’t like Lycra wrist gaiters, but personally I like them – especially on a mid-winter pow jacket. Tip: If you don’t like having that extra layer over your hand, just leave them around your wrist. They trap warm air from escaping and on the most stormy days they keep the wind out as much as snow.
241 Forecaster Pant
The Forecaster pants continue with the same themes as the jacket: durability and powder protection in a well tailored package. The pants are the same tough 2-layer Gore-Tex fabric and feature boot and waist gaiters. You can see the designers had hiking in deep snow in mind with the Gore-Tex lining on the boot gaiters and the double (velcro loop and lace hook) retention point to keep the pants down on your boot, when you are post-holing back up from that pillow line to nowhere.
Like the jacket, the pants are in that happy medium between a baggy straight fit and a skinny slim fit. They are tailored with a 3D articulated fit that comes in slightly around the knees. This cut moves with you riding or hiking, and even looks okay around town. If full-on baggy is your thing, or you have a very stocky build you might want to size up, but for me they felt tailor made!
There isn’t much to improve in the pants for me. The jeans pocket-style patches of double layer reinforcement on the butt neither help nor hinder, but seem surplus to requirements as the fabric appears to be durable enough anyway. If the waist gaiter was removable, it would be better for spring riding, but these Gore-Tex pants are clearly designed for spinning off powder-covered natural features (and the crashes before you get the shot!) in mid-winter rather than spring park laps. The Gore-Tex is breathable enough, along with the venting, to handle spring riding, but that clearly wasn’t at the top of the list when these were designed.
The Forecaster pants have a useful drawcord hidden in the pockets that pulls the heels up for hem-saving walks through parking lots. I’ve never seen such features as essential, but it’s a nice touch for making your gear last longer. Color is a personal choice, but the 241 color palette for the jacket and pants this year are on point. I’ve always been a sucker for teal blue (called ‘Oceanus’ for these models) and with pants in matching or contrasting colors, you can go all teal blue for the fashion-forward, all black for ninja style.
All the powder-orientated features add up to good times doing this:
I am 174cm with a medium build, and fall right between M and L in a lot of brands’ sizing, but with 241 the large size was right on the money. For me, this was perfect, but as you can see from the size charts for the jacket (below left) and pants (below right), if you are an L or XL in larger fitting brands, you might be off the scale – so be careful with sizing.
The 241 Forecaster Jacket and Forecaster Pant fill a well-needed gap between alpine-style backcountry and freestyle-focused resort outerwear. Durable protection rather than backcountry minimalism, the tough fabric has remained waterproof, stood up to tree branches in early season bushwhacking, and always felt like a comforting layer of protection on storm days. They are perfect for powder exploring in style – perhaps the ideal resort and sidecountry outerwear. They are fully loaded with features with an eye on deep snow conditions, combined with the durability to last several seasons. If the sizing matches your build, this outerwear is well worth considering as your next deep winter protection against the elements.
The Forecaster jacket and pants, along with the rest of the line, can be found at the 241 North American site here.
For the full backstory of 241 founder Mike Basich, watch his excellent documentary ‘Open Space’:
Disclosure: The 241 Forecaster jacket and pants were provided by 241 Clothing Design.