S/Lab is the AMG or M Sport division of Salomon, and if you're not au fait with your car analogy's, that means it's the division that designs pumped up, high octane reassuringly expensive versions of the company's mass market products.
Pricing a ski jacket in the over £500 bracket immediately makes it a niche product if only by virtue of the fact that you have to be seriously into your skiing or snowboarding, or not short of a bob or two to warrant buying it, you have to want the best.
The jackets usually found in this range are either high fashion or freeride specific and the S/Lab QST is the latter, although that's not to say that it isn't a great piste jacket for hard chargers.
The 3-layer Gore Tex Pro material is absolutely bombproof, being easily capable of lasting a season or two of big days in the backcountry. The protection it offers from snow, wind and even rain is second to none and the abrasion resistance is also excellent. This makes it a little stiff and crinkly but it's a worthwhile payoff, and the boffins at Salomon have realised the inherent stiffness could be a flaw so have engineered the S/Lab QST with 'Motion Fit 360' technology.
It's not easy to decipher exactly what this means, but in layman's terms Salomon have paid close attention to the way they stitch the fabric to allow for optimal freedom of movement. In real world use we were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the jacket felt to wear, with or without a pack.
Even though the fabric provides supreme protection it also offers freeriders, who might be doing a spot of hiking, a good level of breathability. Unusually for a ski jacket though, there aren't any armpit vents to dump out excess heat, so temperature regulation comes purely from the main zip.
In keeping with freeride conventions the cut is loose enough for layering and the hem and cuff lengths are long for maximum protection around the wrists and midriff keeping you dry on deep powder days.
The hood is fully adjustable and fits over a helmet. It moves with your head just like a hood should and with its wired brim it offers great protection from the elements. The jacket comes up high over your chin so with the hood and main zip up a large part of your face is protected.
There are a range of inner and outer pockets all with waterproof zips, pocket placement and sizes are well thought out and plenty enough for all your storage needs.
If you want the best and are willing to pay for it, then the Salomon S/Lab QST range and this jacket in particular won't disappoint.