In the Sierras a Goretex-Pro shell is the way to go. Totally bomber and waterproof I've got an Arcteryx with about 200 days on it still looks brand new. With a shell you just under layer up or down depending on the day. We ride storms 90% of our days so I know of what I speak
Yeah, a shell is probably the way to go, but I plan to use this jacket for all sorts of outdoor winter activities and some casual everyday wear, so just being able to pull it on and go outside without also adding layers is necessary.
Reviews sound like about what I want. Not warm enough to wear on the coldest days without some layers, but usable with varying base layers from 0-35. Hopefully the zipper complaints aren't a big deal...I got it for under $300, but that's still too much to have to do a premature zipper replacement.
Won't work for the warmest ski days (might not even bring it to Utah when I go in 2 weeks), but hopefully it isn't so insulated that I can't wear it during physical activity. For warmer weather, I've got other layers/lightweight shells/softshells I can wear, even if they aren't full on goretex beasts.