FlyLow Gear Baker Bib Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comprehensive protection, many pockets, ski bum styling
Cons: Stiff fabric, suspender buckles are uncomfortable
Manufacturer: FlyLow Gear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
FlyLow's Baker Bibs are stout. They are equipped to provide the utmost in weather protection for years and years. The main compromise is a lack of comfort due to the stiff shell fabric.
These pants are built to be extremely weather resistant. Their namesake mountain is one of the snowiest in the world, where they measure snow in feet, not inches, and sometimes rain, too. These pants can take anything mother nature will throw at them. Most pants in our review feature waterproof and breathable membranes and the Baker Bib is no different.
What makes the Baker Bibs stand out is the sturdy fabric that holds up to windy chairlift rides, complemented by the bib height to seal out drafts and leaks. These bibs feature excellent construction and waterproof zippers all around. Flylow has even updated their DWR coating to be much better than it used to be. The new stuff didn't wear off during our test period, even when we manually scrubbed the pants under a shower deluge, and kept water beading off the exterior fabric throughout our test period. These pants will keep the weather out, period.
Fit and Comfort
Our testers didn't love the fit and comfort of the Baker Bib. The shell fabric is extremely stiff, which instills confidence, but feels rough on the skin. The cut is fairly baggy, which might be a stylistic choice, but most of our testers thought it was too loose. Also, we noticed that the bib suspender buckles are large and intrusive. Other bibs in our review have much lower-profile buckles, whereas those on the Baker can rub into skin and collarbones. If the user is wearing a backpack, this can be quite uncomfortable.
These bibs are true to size, especially through the waist and bib, just expect the fit through the legs to be very loose. Online reviewers suggest that the Baker runs both big and small, but over the many years that we have reviewed this product, we have found these bibs to run true to size. Some people might be thrown off by the loose-fitting legs.
These bibs come with vents on both the inside and outside of each leg. This means that you can open the inner leg vent for some ventilation, the outer leg vent for more ventilation, or both open at the same time for cross-ventilation, which ventilates in a way that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Both the interior and exterior vents in these pants have no mesh backing, which we like. However, opening the mesh-less outside vents will show the whole world your inner leg. In the backcountry, that is ok, but in the ski resort, many people will end up just using the inner leg vents. Those will still provide good ventilation because they have no mesh either, but they are relatively short.
These are 3-layer shell pants, with no hanging liner or any other insulation device. These provide warmth by trapping the air around your body and keeping you dry. Any warmth that you need for your day of skiing must come from a thoughtful selection of layers worn underneath this shell.
The bib construction has some inherent warming benefits over regular ski pants. For one, the bib component seals in the air around the abdomen, which otherwise might escape through the opening between traditional pants and a ski jacket. Covering this space also prevents chilly drafts from blowing up and into the torso, in addition to keeping all snow out of the chest on deep days.
The Baker Bibs have a great selection of features. You get tons of pockets, plus elastic powder cuffs, reinforced kick patches and knee patches, and buttons that attach to a Flylow jacket's powder skirt. The bib component is not removable, unlike other bibs on the market. That is not greatly missed here, because removing the bib would reduce its weather resistance.
These bibs have two large handwarmer pockets and one thigh pocket, all with sleek, waterproof zippers. There is also one rear zippered pocket, and the bib has three pockets, which all stack on top of each other, but the options are impressive. The elastic powder cuffs are large enough to fit over boot buckles easily, and the buttons that fasten to a Flylow jacket allow these bibs to be used as part of a waterproof, weatherproof system from head to toe.
We get the feeling that one of the bib pockets is for an avalanche transceiver, but it is not well designed for that purpose because it is fastened shut with just one button,
FlyLow's style is usually loose-fitting and aims for the "core" look. When you buy FlyLow clothing, you make a statement, and you say you wish to look like a skiing "lifer." This style is popular where ski areas are close to major universities, like Bellingham, Burlington, and Bozeman, and it is less prevalent in more posh destinations like Aspen or Jackson Hole.
The Baker is one of Flylow's flagship products, and the look is decidedly "ski bum casual." This will fit right in with a younger crowd but may be out of place in après-ski cocktail bars. The bib is offered in five color options, from Carhartt khaki to bright red, and they all look good. Of all the pants we tested, the FlyLow Baker Bibs are some of the more fashion-forward. They don't blend in with the crowd unless the crowd is a young, freeride-oriented one. Whether or not you buy this pants may very well come down to how well you associate with its looks.
These aren't cheap, but they offer the high-end weather resistance and features of many more expensive pants. If you are an occasional skier, you can find better deals out there. But if you are part of the aggressive "core" of ski culture, you live near the mountains and ski as much as you can, these pants will protect you and look good, for a relatively low price.
These bibs do exactly what bibs should do: protect you from even the gnarliest weather. They also vent well and are loaded with features. You'll make some sacrifices in warmth and comfort compared to more insulated pants out there, but not compared to other shell pants. As such, these are our Top Pick for ski bibs.
— Jeff Dobronyi