Montbell is a well known Japanese gear chain, started was established in Osaka in 1975, by Isamu Tatsuno, a mountaineer and adventurer. He wanted good gear that WORKED, and so he ended up producing a huge lineup of gear including very tech clothing, tents, sleeping bags, climbing gear, a big range of hiking boots, etc. Previously, I've mainly looked at mainstream non Japanese gear, and at Montbell only in passing. I had the impression that it was kinda expensive, and maybe not as good..... I was wrong. I was looking for waterproof breathable jacket that had larger sleeves that would go over gloves (often mainstream stylish gear doesn't) as it seemed to me that the Japanese season this year might be wetter than average. I looked at Montbell's gortex, which was reasonably priced (around $350-$370), compared to some North Face gear(and others) which is just absurdly expensive. Then I looked at their OWN waterproof breathable Breeze-Dry Tec micro porous laminate gear(seam sealed) that was alongside the gortex gear. I found that the construction of both was superb, and the jackets had all the things you really want in a tech jacket. When looking at this stuff, you need to differentiate between ski gear and hiking gear. The hiking gear is lighter, no powder skirt, while the ski gear is more robust. They have a good range, and I got the one with the hood that tucks away, and the price was a shade over $200 AUD The jacket performs really well in the wet, is very waterproof and breathable (iirc 20,000/15,000) I was also after some mittens with the free index finger (I'd never had mittens before, but thought it would be good to have these for those extra cold days), looking at dozens of gloves, and finally coming back to Montbell. The gloves I got are waterproof breathable, and come in two pieces, the outer shell and a thick woolen glove insert, and they come way up the arm, and an easy to use & release drawstring. They are fantastic!!! I got them at the Montbell shop in Yokohama which has an outlet section for about $100) I also tried them with a pair of lighter ski gloves which fit inside, and this combo is also great, and adds flexibility. I pointed a friend to these mittens, and he said they are the best gloves he's ever had!! So then I started looking at what else they had at Montbell, both regular and in the outlet section.... They have merino wool thermals for around $45, compression tights (to just below the knee) about $45, reduced from about $90. I also got some merino wool ski socks (compression, shaped to left and right foot).... they are honestly the best ski socks I've ever had!! They are only about $28. They have a thicker toe cap section to keep your toes warm, and come up to just below the knee. They have slightly extra padding on the boney areas of your foot (sides of the fore foot and ankles) They have around 70 stores Japan wide, but it's the outlet stores which make Montbell tremendous value. Next time you're in Japan, check out their gear. It seems to be designed by a guy (and his team), who knows EXACTLY what is needed, not what just looks good.