This season at the Lab we’re excited to be stocking Flylow; so excited that we’ve all been out testing it! Flylow design their freeride clothing to handle all aspects of deep powder skiing, though I can attest that it works just as well on piste. The focus is clearly on hard-wearing, good-looking clothing with all the features you’d expect and more, such as removable helmet-compatible hoods and zip-off powder skirts.
Born from two college friends’ need for more durable ski gear Flylow has grown steadily from it’s founding in 2006. Originally sold to locals in a few Colorado ski areas the brand quickly spread to virtually every ski town in the western United States. Now sold worldwide it’s reputation as some of the most bombproof kit on the market is renowned.
Having spent the last 2 months skiing in the Stringfellow jacket and Stash pants, the durability is clear to see. Despite numerous encounters with trees the gear looks as good as new – no worries of branches tearing your jacket or edges slashing your pants. Functionality has also been very impressive. With a total of 8 pockets in the Stringfellow you’re never short of storage space for your low-light lens, lift pass, or Genepi-filled hip flask. I’m also a big fan of the detachable hood and powder skirt, adding a bit of versatility to the set-up.
The hard-shell Stringfellow jacket offers maximum versatility when it comes to layering. Wear it with a base and insulating mid layer for the coldest days the season throws at you; yet come spring pair it with just a single layer and open the generous-sized vents when things get warmer. Offering a 10,000mm waterproof membrane and waterproof zippers there’s no chance of the outside elements invading. I’ve found the breathability of the jacket to be fantastic with help from the breathable hanging mesh lining; I’ve made use of the vents a handful of times when wearing a backpack – but only on the warmest of days.
The nylon face fabric offered on the Stringfellow will please the gear geeks out there; offering a higher level of durability than polyester, this really enforces Flylow’s reputation for tough, long-lasting gear. It’s also worth noting that the vents have two zippers on, thus allowing you to open and close from either end – handy when wearing a backpack. The removable helmet-compatible hood also had a neat peak to keep the elements from your face, with the hood being adjustable via pull-cords in two dimensions – it’s these little details that really set Flylow’s gear apart.
Like the Stringfellow jacket, the 3-layer Stash pants benefit from a ultra-tough nylon face fabric, a 10k/10k waterproof breathable membrane, and waterproof zippers, but also features 1000 denier Cordura reinforcements – no chance of edge slashes here! Again, 2 months in and mine are still in perfect condition. Long vents down either leg provide airflow when required, and the adjustable waist belt ensures a perfect fit around the hips. Six pockets provide ample storage (hence the name) but never hinder you when unused. Altogether they provide all the functionality needed, offer bombproof durability, and look great – what more could you want?
Joel from The Boot Lab has also been skiing in Flylow gear for the past 8 weeks – here’s his take on how it performs:
Right at the top of Flylow’s range are the Lab jacket and Compound pant. Retailing towards the top end of the technical outerwear price range this combo had to be top notch to justify the outlay. Having skied both jacket and pants all season I can safely say they do not disappoint. Having opted for the gunmetal jacket and orange pants the gear looks fantastic, colours muted slightly and a great fit.
The Lab jacket is a outer hardshell, allowing for good layering options to suit all weather. Personally I’ve combined it with just a merino base layer and it has been more than adequate, there is plenty of space to fit an insulating mid-layer in if you run a little colder than I do. The fabric is Polartec Neoshell which has been designed with breathability in mind while sacrificing no waterproofing. Soft and flexible while still being incredibly durable the fabric features a new membrane which increases airflow and therefore heat and moisture regulation is better (http://www.polartec.com/shelter/polartec-neoshell/). Including all the usual taped seams, waterproof YKK zippers and underarm vents this jacket is designed for backcountry lines and ascents. More evidence of this can be seen with the huge inner stash pockets, large enough to fit spare lenses, gloves, extra layers and even skins. Four further pockets mean you’ll never have to worry about fitting all you gear in. If I was pushed to find fault with the jacket I would have to say I’d like a wrist gaiter but that is being very picky and a personal preference.
Complementing the Lab jacket perfectly are the Compound pants, made from the same tough Polartec Neoshell as the jacket. The pants have reinforced Cordura cuffs to prevent ski slashes and an ergonomic reinforced knee box. The knee box particularly is a great feature allowing for very comfortable ski touring. Full length outer leg vents combine nicely with smaller non-mesh inner vents to provide great airflow on warm ascents. The pants have five pockets including two huge ones at the back and a smaller pass pocket on the front. Fully integrated with the jacket using the snapper system on the snow skirt and waistband the snow will be kept at bay.
All in all this jacket and pant combo exceeded my expectation and I can confidently say it is worth the money for someone wanting to look for a superb technical outerwear set-up. Equally adept on the ascent as well as the descent and featuring Flylow’s renowned durability this really would be a great choice for any serious skier.