Flylow Gear Lab Coat Review
Cons: Provides little warmth, limited color options, thin shell material
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Flylow Gear Lab Coat
|Price||$549.95 at Amazon||$550 List|
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|$336.83 at REI|
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|Pros||Lightweight, great ventilation, highly weather resistant||Excellent performance in every category, durable||Completely weather resistant, good ventilation, freeride style||Massive vents, good pocket layout, great weather resistance||Weather resistant, good vents, plenty of features|
|Cons||Provides little warmth, limited color options, thin shell material||More snug fit than other options||Expensive, too heavy and warm for most backcountry use||No powder skirt, fabric wets out quickly||Hanging liner makes it a bit warm for a shell, fit isn't perfect|
|Bottom Line||A minimalist shell jacket with great weather resistance for resort and backcountry skiing||This excellent resort ski jacket nails all performance aspects to deserve a spot at the top of your wish list||A durable, weatherproof jacket that wins our favor among downhill ski shells on the market||This shell jacket offers great weather protection and ventilation for a bargain price||A high-performance shell at a great price|
|Rating Categories||Flylow Gear Lab Coat||Helly Hansen Alpha...||Arc'teryx Sabre AR...||Outdoor Research Sk...||REI Co-op First Cha...|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort And Fit (20%)|
|Specs||Flylow Gear Lab Coat||Helly Hansen Alpha...||Arc'teryx Sabre AR...||Outdoor Research Sk...||REI Co-op First Cha...|
|Main Fabric||100% Nylon||2-layer stretch polyester||N80p-X Gore-Tex||88% Nylon 12% Spandex||2-layer Gore-Tex|
|Insulation||None||LifaLoft synthetic||Thin flannel backer||None||Recycled polyester lining|
|Pockets||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal mesh||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 sleeve||2 hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal||2 Shove-It, 2 zippered chest, 1 internal media, 2 zippered hand||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 sleeve|
|Weight (pounds)||1.46 lbs||2.56 lbs||1.66 lbs||1.72 lbs||1.76 lbs|
|Waterproofing||eVent w/ Direct Venting Expedition Technology||Helly Tech Professional||Gore-Tex||AscentShell 3L||Gore-Tex|
|Hood Option?||Adjustable||Adjustable and removable||Adjustable||Adjustable||Adjustable|
|Pit-Zips?||Open||Mesh-backed||Open||Open, hem to bicep||Yes|
|Cuff construction||Velcro||Interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs||Velcro||Velcro||Velcro|
|Powder skirt?||Yes, removable||Yes||Yes||No||Yes, removable|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Flylow Lab Coat is a lightweight, waterproof hardshell that is at home in the expert areas of the resort and the backcountry. Weather resistance and ventilation are the main strengths of this jacket, but it also delivers good ski features and style.
The Lab Coat is a hardshell-only jacket that is not designed to provide much warmth. Rather, warmth comes from insulating layers worn underneath. That said, the jacket has great velcro sleeve closures and a well-fitting hood that keep warmth inside. Our testers noted that the shell seemed thin, and on a cold chairlift ride, wind penetrated the fabric more than other shell-only jackets. Still, users won't be buying this jacket to keep them warm.
Weather resistance is the main job of a shell-only jacket, and the Lab Coat performs this duty well. The waterproof, breathable eVent fabric is completely waterproof and performed well in the dreaded shower test, never wetting out. Robust sleeve cuff closures were appreciated, and the removable powder skirt can be snapped on to Flylow ski pants. All zippers are waterproof, and all seams are tape sealed.
We noted that wind seemed to penetrate the Lab Coat slightly easier than other shell jackets that we have tested, which might be attributed to its excellent breathability (more on that later) and thin fabric, which is appropriate for high-output skiing and backcountry travel.
Comfort and Fit
Overall, the Lab Coat is relatively comfortable for a shell jacket, which are often crinkly, stiff, and abrasive. The outer fabric is thick enough to inspire confidence, yet thin enough to be flexible. As such, this shell is great for users who do a lot of inbounds bootpacking and sidestepping, active freeskiing, and uphill skinning in the backcountry. The soft, fleece patch that protects the chin from the zipper closure is also very comfortable.
As with all shell jackets, the inner lining is less comfortable than other jackets that might feature a fleece lining or soft nylon. The weight savings are worth the sacrifice to those who will use the Lab Coat. Finally, we noticed that this jacket can feel slightly tight in the chest, so if you are on the fence about which size to get, go for the larger size.
This jacket has excellent ventilation. Long, mesh-free pit vents open up wide to dump heat while traveling uphill or skiing hard on warmer days. Furthermore, the eVent fabric is highly breathable, allowing water vapor to escape the inside of the jacket during exertion. This is perfect for hike-to terrain and backcountry skiing, where all of a sudden, those warm layers that keep you toasty on the downhill can make you sweat buckets on the uphill. If you are the type of skier that is not interested in moving uphill, there are other shell options that will provide slightly more weather resistance by sacrificing some ventilation.
The style of the Lab Coat is sharp and well-tailored. The cut is not too tight, and not too loose, meaning you don't end up looking like a park rat or a ski racer. The two-tone color panels look sharp and fast, and you'll stick out from a crowd. This can be a good thing, if you are confident in your skiing ability. Others will avoid the somewhat provocative styling. We wish the Lab Coat came in more color options.
The Lab Coat has just the right amount of ski features. Two handwarmer pockets and two chest pockets are all spacious and comfortable. There is a waterproof internal chest pocket that is very spacious and has a headphone port. The powder skirt works well and snaps into compatible Flylow pants, and is removable when you want to ditch the weight. We wish the jacket had a Recco reflector because its target user group is the type that might be wandering out of the gates and into the sidecountry in search of fresh tracks.
The Lab Coat isn't cheap, but it is cheaper most of the Gore-Tex shells. The high performance of this jacket for a specific user is a great value, but others who want a more robust shell for downhill performance in all weather conditions might want to explore other options. This jacket is constructed to last a long time, making it a good investment. There are thicker shells, and there are warmer jackets, but pound for pound, this shell delivers a good deal.
Looking for a high-quality ski shell? The Flylow Gear Lab Coat is definitely worth consideration. This is an excellent coat for those who split their time between the resort and the backcountry, with good weather resistance and ventilation. It costs less than most of the competition. It doesn't score the best overall, but for its target audience, it's a fantastic jacket. Our testers are fans.
— Jeff Dobronyi