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Flylow Gear Lab Coat Review

A minimalist shell jacket with great weather resistance for resort and backcountry skiing.
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Price:  $550 List | $549.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, great ventilation, highly weather resistant
Cons:  Provides little warmth, limited color options, thin shell material
Manufacturer:   Flylow
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 3, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Warmth - 20% 3
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 6
  • Ventilation - 15% 10
  • Style - 15% 7
  • Features - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Flylow Gear has produced an excellent, lightweight ski shell in the Lab Coat. It is designed for those who need the versatility of a shell that can perform well both in the resort and the backcountry. We were impressed by its weather resistance, durability, and breathability at a price slightly below other models in the shell top-echelon. It has enough pockets and features to be useful, and nothing else, which keeps the weight down for human-powered missions. This jacket is also one of the more breathable jackets we have ever tested, due in large part to the eVent waterproof/breathable membrane. If you split your time between the resort and the backcountry, this jacket should be on your shortlist.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Editors' Choice Award 
Price $549.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, great ventilation, highly weather resistantExcellent performance in every category, durableImpeccable quality, clean lines, very warm, excellent weather protectionVery warm, great weather resistance, high quality constructionCompletely weather resistant, good ventilation, freeride style
Cons Provides little warmth, limited color options, thin shell materialMore snug fit than other optionsSuper expensive, too warm for some applicationsBoxy fit, unremarkable style, expensiveExpensive, too heavy and warm for most backcountry use
Bottom Line A minimalist shell jacket with great weather resistance for resort and backcountry skiing.This excellent all-around ski jacket wins our Editors’ Choice Award.Arc'teryx’s top of the line ski jacket keeps you warm, dry, and comfortable, for a small fortune.High quality warmth and weather resistance, at a price.A durable, weatherproof jacket that wins out Editors’ Choice Award for shells.
Rating Categories Flylow Gear Lab Coat Helly Hansen Alpha LifaLoft Arc'teryx Macai Patagonia Primo Puff Arc'teryx Sabre AR Jacket
Warmth (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
4
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
Comfort And Fit (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
Ventilation (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
Style (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
Features (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
5
Specs Flylow Gear Lab Coat Helly Hansen Alpha... Arc'teryx Macai Patagonia Primo Puff Arc'teryx Sabre AR...
Main Fabric 100% Nylon 2-layer stretch polyester N40p-X GORE-TEX 2-layer, 4-oz 75-denier 100% recycled polyester N80p-X GORE-TEX
Insulation None LifaLoft synthetic Coreloft 100, Coreloft Compact, and 750 fill goose down PlumaFill synthetic Light flannel backer
Pockets 2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal mesh 2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 sleeve 2 handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 1 chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 internal chest 2 hand, 1 chest, 2 interior 2 hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal
Weight (pounds) 1.46 lbs 2.56 lbs 2.64 lbs 2.54 lbs 1.66 lbs
Waterproofing eVent w/ Direct Venting Expedition Technology Helly Tech Professional 3L Gore-Tex Pro Shell Gore-Tex Gore-Tex
Hood Option? Adjustable Adjustable and removable Adjustabe and Removable Adjustable Adjustable
Pit-Zips? Open Mesh-backed Mesh-backed Open Open
Cuff construction Velcro Interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs Velcro Velcro Velcro
Ski Features Removable powder skirt snaps to compatible pants Powder skirt, fixed goggle wipe, high visibility brim, pass pocket Removable powder skirt, attached/removable goggle wipe, pass pocket Pass pocket, powder skirt attaches to Patagonia pants Fixed powder skirt buttons to matching pants, pass pocket
RECCO? No Yes Yes Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


Deep powder and cold temps were the settings for most of this ski jacket review testing.
Deep powder and cold temps were the settings for most of this ski jacket review testing.

Warmth


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.

The velcro cuff closures  high collar  and well-fitting hood all help keep warmth inside the jacket.
The velcro cuff closures, high collar, and well-fitting hood all help keep warmth inside the jacket.

Weather Resistance


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.

The Lab Coat provides adequate weather resistance for backcountry skiing  cutting through the wind on cold mornings at the trailhead.
The Lab Coat provides adequate weather resistance for backcountry skiing, cutting through the wind on cold mornings at the trailhead.

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.

We liked the flexible  thin fabric of the Lab Coat for backcountry ski touring and inbounds bootpacking.
We liked the flexible, thin fabric of the Lab Coat for backcountry ski touring and inbounds bootpacking.

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.

Ventilation


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 vents on this shell are long and mesh free  providing great airflow.
The vents on this shell are long and mesh free, providing great airflow.

Style


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.

Sharp lines and color panels give this jacket a distinct style and help it stick out in a crowd.
Sharp lines and color panels give this jacket a distinct style and help it stick out in a crowd.

Features


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.

On display are the removable powder skirt  internal chest pocket  and headphone port.
On display are the removable powder skirt, internal chest pocket, and headphone port.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

The Flylow Lab Coat is a great option for backcountry skiing and those who want weather resistance without much weight.
The Flylow Lab Coat is a great option for backcountry skiing and those who want weather resistance without much weight.


Jeff Dobronyi