Our testing team has been reviewing ski jackets for OutdoorGearLab longer than the company Stio has existed. Years ago we found a benchmark jacket in the original Patagonia Primo Down. Patagonia still makes a jacket by this name, but it has changed. The original was warm enough (the new one is warmer), well ventilated, and fit close for reduction of drafts but tailored for freedom of motion. The Stio Shot 7 reminds us a lot of this original Primo Down. In all the ways we liked that original, we dig the Stio. The insulation and weather protection is carefully balanced. The features are minimal but there. The fit and style are modern and close. The Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Macai is all this and even more refined, but much much more expensive. For great performance at a more reasonable price, the Shot 7 is an alternative to the Macai.
Stio Shot 7 Review
Cons: Soft shell material collects snow, powder skirt zipper comes undone
Our Analysis and Test Results
This is a classic insulated ski jacket from a relatively new player. It is a proven design, well executed, with minimal flash and maximum utility.
Down insulation is king. Down insulation treated with a water-resistant coating and then protected by a waterproof shell reigns supreme. This is the insulation configuration of the Stio Shot 7. There is just the right amount of 800 fill power down. In super cold days at Wyoming's Jackson Hole, we had all the insulation we could want.
For most riders in most conditions, the Stio is just the right amount of insulation. Two jackets in our test, both those that also score higher overall, are more insulating than the Stio. The Patagonia Primo Down and Editors Choice Arc'teryx Macai are noticeably warmer. Additionally, the Top Pick Columbia Whirlibird Interchange 3-in-1 is more insulating than the Stio Shot 7. All the rest of our tested jackets are less insulating. It is no surprise that all the less insulating jackets are filled with synthetic puff instead of down.
The Pertex Shield shell fabric of the Stio Shot 7 is sewn together tightly, with those seams sealed and the whole thing shaped in such a way that it seals out the wind and wet quite effectively. The hood cinches down, the powder skirt does its job (though we did have issues with the powder skirt zipper coming undone), and the generous sleeves close off over top of your gloves. The one issue we had with the Stio is the outer shell material. It is soft and textured, which is nice. But that softness and texture collect a fair amount of snow. That snow can then melt and weigh you down. It also compromises breathability to have the outer fabric snowy or wet.
The Macai and Primo Down jackets both deliver similar weather protection, but edge ahead with better initial wetness and snow shedding. Also, each of the four shell jackets is just as weather protective as the Shot 7. The Shot 7 edges quite a ways ahead of the Columbia Whirlibird and the Best Buy Armada Carson Insulated.
The Shot 7 has almost everything we look for in ventilating an insulated jacket. The best venting insulated jacket will have a two-way main zipper and long pit zips that have two zipper pulls and no mesh backing. The only thing that Stio changes from this OGL ideal list is the mesh backing. Ski jacket vents are covered with mesh, ostensibly, to keep snow out. We've found that mesh covered vents also greatly slow ventilation. We'd rather have the option to fully open up, and have to close 'em down when snow entry is possible than to have compromised airflow. If this is your preference too, you can easily cut the mesh out of your Stio Shot 7 jacket and have the ideal ventilation regime.
Of the insulated jackets we tested, the Stio Shot 7 comes closest to this ideal. The latest iteration of the Patagonia Primo Down has vents with no mesh backing, but they are short. (A previous version of the Primo Down had longer pit zips. They were ideal and that is where we learned the value of the aforementioned configuration). The Arc'teryx Macai has mid-length zips with mesh backing.
Stio, as a newer brand, follows more closely behind Arc'teryx and Patagonia than Helly Hansen or Spyder. The ski feature set of the Stio is more like the Arc'teryx Macai (fairly minimal) than it is like the set of attributes on the Helly Hansen Alpha 3. Not everyone wants all the bells and whistles. Therefore we don't weight this scoring metric very heavily. Nonetheless, some will want more pockets and doodads than the Stio has.
Fit and Comfort
In so many ways the Stio Shot 7 reminds us of the original Patagonia Primo Down. That 2013 jacket still forms a baseline of our ski jacket reviews. The latest iteration of the Primo down is heavier and bulkier and looser fitting than the original. The original fit more like the Shot 7. The Shot 7 fits close, like a warm hug. In this way, it is similar to the Arc'teryx Macai, though the Macai is cut a little shorter. If you like baggy ski clothing, size up a full size in the Shot 7. If you like minimum drafts and a smaller article for packing, the Shot 7 fit true to your size is just right. Overall, our test team prefers the closer fit of the Shot 7, the Macai, and the original Primo Down. The Helly Hansen 3.0 fits this way too.
The Shot 7 jacket is either a classy jacket that tells folks you like to ski, or it is a purpose built ski jacket that can pull off a classier look. We tend to lean toward the latter. The design is largely functional, with form following that function. Don't get us wrong; we like the form of the Stio. It is just that the look is function-forward.
We like classic down-insulated ski jackets. The Stio fits this description. As compared to the top scorers in our test, the Stio isn't quite as refined. However, it is also far less expensive.
With performance and durability that approaches that of the highest scoring products in the test, at a lower price, this is a good value. It isn't inexpensive enough to earn a Best Buy award, but it is close. If you want the performance of the top scorers at a lower price, check out the Stio Shot 7.
We dig the Stio Shot 7. Lacking just a few refinements, it comes up short of an award, but it is still worthy of your consideration.
— Jediah Porter