Backcountry Cardiac Gore-Tex Pro Bib Review
Cons: Funky fit, not warm, expensive
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Backcountry Cardiac Gore-Tex Pro Bib
$249.98 at Backcountry
|$438.93 at REI|
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|$650 List||Check Price at REI|
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|Pros||Excellent weather resistance, many vents||Immaculate weather protection, excellent fit, fleecy lining||Extremely weather resistant, stylish cut, good freedom of movement, vents well||Great performance at a low price, tons of features, weather resistant, breathable||Great value, warm, comfortable, relaxed vibes|
|Cons||Funky fit, not warm, expensive||Expensive, light on features||Not warm||Lacks good style and warmth, average comfort||Limited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent design|
|Bottom Line||This weather resistant bib has tons of vents and an awkwardly snug fit||This model is perfect for those who demand the best from their ski pants||This refined model are the best ski bibs that money can buy||An affordable hardshell that provides great weather resistance, ventilation, and features||A good insulated ski pant for budget-minded resort skiers who don't need a technical pair of pants|
|Rating Categories||Backcountry Cardiac...||Arc'teryx Sabre AR...||Arc'teryx Micon Bib||Outdoor Research Sk...||The North Face Free...|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Fit and Comfort (25%)|
|Specs||Backcountry Cardiac...||Arc'teryx Sabre AR...||Arc'teryx Micon Bib||Outdoor Research Sk...||The North Face Free...|
|Main fabric||100% Nylon||N80p-X Gore-Tex with Cordura Nylon 3L cuff fabric||80-denier plain-weave nylon||88% Nylon, 12% Spandex||100% Nylon|
|Insulation||None||Laminated fleecy lining||None||None||60 g Heatseeker Eco Polyester (50% Recycled)|
|Waterproofing||Gore-Tex Pro||N80p-X Gore-Tex (3-layer)||3-layer Gore-Tex||AscentShell||DryVent (2-layer)|
|Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?)||Bibs||Snaps. Built-in elastic belt||Zipper fly, belt loops||Snap/zipper fly with external velcro adjustment, belt loops||Snap and zipper, Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops|
|Weight (in pounds)||1.48 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.28 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.32 lbs|
|Weight (in grams)||671 g||599 g||581 g||599 g||599 g|
|# of Pockets||4||3||3||4||3|
|Vents?||Inner thigh zips||Exterior thigh zips, no mesh||Outer thigh zips||Inner thigh zips||Inner thigh zips, with mesh|
|Ski-specific features||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs||Key/pass clip inside pocket, touring cuff, scuff guards||Scuff guards, powder cuffs, barn door seat access||Scuff guards, powder cuffs, articulated knees, beacon clip||Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Backcountry Cardiac Bib features a Gore-Tex Pro waterproof/breathable membrane to provide a dry user experience. It also has waterproof zippers on the pockets and vents and sealed seams throughout the garment. In our testing, we could not get water to penetrate these pants. Bibs tend to be the most weather resistant of all ski pants, and these rise to the top of the class. We could not find a weak point anywhere.
Fit and Comfort
Unfortunately, we were disappointed by the Cardiac's fit. Our lead tester wears a size Medium in most other pants, but he's on the cusp and sometimes needs a large. With the Cardiac, he could barely spread his legs due to a tight crotch fit in size Medium, and the chest was a bit tight as well, even though the legs were comfortable and long enough. We have also noticed some online reviews that echo our concerns about the fit. It seems like certain parts of the bib may fit your body, and others might not.
The Backcountry Cardiac has a long vent on the outside of each thigh, as well as a shorter vent on the inside of each thigh. This is our favorite configuration for vents because it allows air to flow through the pant, picking up and moisture and heat on its way through. This is useful, especially in a bib, because the pants cover the torso and chest, which is the warmest part of the body. Also, the Gore-Tex Pro membrane isn't as breathable as other technical membranes, and the dual vent system helped our testers ditch heat quickly.
These bibs are a shell-only pant, meaning they come with no insulation below the outer shell fabric. Typically, bibs aren't insulated, meaning the user is responsible for layering appropriately to match the expected temperature outside. Still, these pants provide some warmth, due to the "overall" component which covers the torso up to the nipple line. Heat from this warm part of the body is trapped inside the shell, keeping the user warmer than they would be if they were wearing pants with a traditional design, everything else being equal.
The Cardiac is light on features, with only two thigh pockets and one chest pocket. The chest pocket has an internal elastic strap that is fixed on both ends, which we used to stow an avalanche transceiver in vertical orientation. There aren't any clip loops in the pockets for a transceiver, but we used the elastic strap for this as well. There are no belt loops, but there is a small front zipper for bathroom breaks. We found this zipper a bit too short to use easily.
Our testers were on the fence about the style of these bibs. The lines are clean, but the black zippers and two-tone color panels seemed a bit off. And, there's a big company logo on the right thigh, in contrasting white. Our testers weren't crazy about the Cardiac's style, but you might disagree.
For the materials and construction principles used in these bibs, they come for a fair price. However, the awkwardly tight crotch feels poorly tailored and disappointing. These pants are less expensive than other Gore-Tex pants, but in general, these more expensive options come with major upgrades in fit, features, and style. There are also less expensive bib options that perform better overall.
The Backcountry Cardiac Gore-Tex Pro Bib checks almost all of the boxes for a great pair of ski pants, but the poor fit, off-putting style, and relatively high price tag make us think twice before recommending this product ahead of some other bibs we like more.
— Jeff Dobronyi
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