Yuki Tsubota skiing in Synergy Jacket

Gear I love: the Synergy Jacket

When we ask MEC Ambassadors about gear they love, one product rises to the top over and over again: the Synergy. It’s has been part of our MEC jacket line-up since 2007, which means it’s had more than a decade of field-testing and fine-tuning.

Bottom line: we’re way overdue on giving the Synergy time in the limelight. It’s been a hit for years and provides incredible value for the fabric and tech involved. If you’re hunting for one jacket to rule them all, find out why our Ambassadors love the Synergy so much, and why it could be your new go-to.

HD vs GORE-TEX

First up, there are two Synergy models to choose from. MEC Label product designer Nicole G. breaks down the differences.

MEC Synergy Jackets side by side

MEC Synergy GORE-TEX (left) and MEC Synergy HD GORE-TEX (right)

“The Synergy GORE-TEX is a great year-round jacket,” she says. “It’s the more packable lightweight version and has a softer GORE C-Knit backer against your skin. I have this jacket and it’s fantastic for backcountry ski touring and always bring it along for rainy hikes.”

“We’ve designed the Synergy HD as a burlier option. Think of ‘HD’ as Heavy-Duty,” she explains. “It uses a heavier weight fabric with a durable tricot backer against your skin. The cut is also longer and boxier with more pockets. It’s awesome for winter sports or cold weather where you’re wearing your jacket the whole day.”

A bombproof jacket

The Jacket: MEC Synergy GORE-TEX
Ambassador review by: Bruce Kirkby

Amongst the most critical key piece of gear I carry – and this stretches back to my earliest days of mountaineering – is a bombproof jacket, a final layer that acts as the ultimate protection against storms, snow, winds and rain. For many years, that piece for me has been the Synergy.

Bruce Kirkby, MEC Ambassador, wearing a bright Synergy Jacket as he's putting on ski skins in the trees

With generous pit zips and great breathability, the Synergy is my go-to on spring ski tours, when temps can fluctuate from sweltering to frigid in minutes.

I was involved with the jacket from its earliest days, testing early prototypes, offering feedback and suggestions. The jacket has evolved over the years, continuous tweaks improving subtle design features, but for me, the bottom line in describing the Synergy is “quality.”

The Synergy today is a trusted friend that has never let me down.

Hold one in your hands and it feels sturdy and robust. The best, breathable, non-rip material. The best zippers. A generous hood that fits over helmets and zips up to protect your face. Venting zips. Cinches in all the right places: sleeves, hood, waist. Sure, it looks great around town and on the ski hill, but when I stuff it in my pack, I know I’m carrying something I can trust to protect me in severe conditions. It’s my go-to on the ski hill, and any time conditions might whip up.

Bruce Kirkby skiing in a Synergy Jacket in Portillo, Chile

In Chile, the winds in Portillo howled during our ski trip. Luckily, with a hood that covered my helmet, zipper pulled right up to my nose, and everything cinched tight, I felt like I was in a perfect protective bubble.

I’ve taken the Synergy skiing in Chile, hiking in Ireland, on west coast sea kayak trips, and mountaineering in the Rockies.

The one I can’t live without

The Jacket: MEC Synergy HD
Ambassador review by: Yuki Tsubota

We all know the feeling when you find a favourite T-shirt or hat – you can’t imagine how you lived without it. The Synergy HD makes feel this way about a jacket. I’ve been wearing it for the past couple of seasons and it hasn’t let me down once. It’s become a staple in my gear closet.

Whether I’m spending a day on the resort or in the backcountry, it’s guaranteed the Synergy jacket will be coming with me.

Yuki Tsubota, MEC Ambassador, bootpacking uphill in the backcountry

When I used to ski competitively, it was crucial for me to find a well-fitting jacket that I could feel confident and comfortable. Looking good without sacrificing comfort and performance is still key, and the Synergy delivers every time.

I’ve been using the HD version, and the cut’s been great for skiing. I find there’s a bit of extra space under the arm, which eliminates the restrictive feeling other jackets often cause. The overall body is also just a little longer, dividing itself from the rest by allowing a women’s jacket with a bit extra room.

Yuki Tsubota skiing in the backcountry

Not going to lie, I’m quite the fair-weather skier. But sometimes the heavy wet snow days end up being the best… those days where you’re flirting with the freezing level and it’s threatening to soak you by the bottom of the lift, then freezing back up by the top. Those are the times when I’m really thankful to depend on a solid shell like the Synergy to keep me totally dry.

I’ve found the Synergy easily doubles as a great rain jacket, especially in the wet west coast’s climate.

A big thank you to Bruce and Yuki for putting this jacket to the test. Bring on the cold, the wet, the wind. The Synergy is good for it, time and time again.

MEC Ambassadors

Aficionados of the outdoor sports MEC promotes. They pioneer and innovate, test gear in the field, and inspire everyone who loves the outdoors.