ProView – BlackYak Bakosi Jacket
As an ice climber, I am always searching for the perfect quiver of gear that will keep me warm in the coldest environment. Something simple, yet precise, that will provide just the right amount of warmth on high output days in the Canadian Rockies or in the frozen slot canyons of the Uncompahgre Gorge. This layering combination is worn like a suit of armor by ice crusaders around the world. Enter the Bakosi Jacket by BlackYak.
Ice climbing gear needs to withstand some of the toughest condition known to outdoor athletes. This jacket withstood exposure to freezing temperatures, continuous snowfall, fragmented ice shards, and razor-sharp tools.
BlackYak Bakosi Jacket
Product Description: For lower altitudes, the BLACKYAK Bakosi Jacket is an outstanding product. It features intelligent insulation mapping: where the body needs more insulation to stay warm, the insulation chambers have been engineered to create more insulation. In the sleeves the chambers get smaller, as less insulation is required. Inside this jacket, the padding level of the chambers also varies. There is traceable goose down (750 cuin) over the top area of the body for maximum warmth. At the lower parts of the arms and in the belt area, PrimaLoft® Gold has been used as its hydrophobic properties make it ideal for this. For the back panel, where more permeability is needed and stretch is vital for maximum freedom of movement, Polartec® Alpha® has been used.
Price: $350 MSRP
After multiple ice climbing trips in various conditions, I can say the Bakosi Jacket by BlackYak is a quality layer of protection that met my expectations. Some of the premium features that really stood out on this jacket are the athletic fit, high collar, and tall torso. Every ice climber likes to be fashionable, right? All joking aside, throughout my evaluation of the jacket I found it performs equally well as technical gear and something I could wear around town on a rest day. Having this versatility allows me to pack less on a trip but at the same time be covered for most situations.
- Athletic fit
- Appealing Design
- Restrictive with extended reaches while climbing
As an adventure photographer, I have spent the last decade capturing unique and exciting images of ice climbers from all around the world. Being an active participant in the sport adds a dimension to my images that distinguishes them from the average photos that saturate the image markets.
Performance and Features
First, let’s look at the fit of the Bakosi Jacket. Most insulated jackets on the market today have a bulky fit, one that is warm but leaves the impression you’re the Michelin Man blimp. The Bakosi, on the other hand, has more of a slim or athletic fit. The torso hugs around your waist with its anti-slip Y-band, keeping the jacket from lifting on high reaches and stopping the wind from billowing inside when you’re least expecting it.
Like the fitted torso, this jacket also includes stretchy arm cuffs that keep the snow and ice from finding its way into your sleeves.
As far as packability goes, this jacket comes in at about 600 grams and stows nicely in a stuff sack when not in use. I noticed the mapped insulation kept the jacket’s form and insured the insulation wasn’t clumped into one spot, even after being compressed in the sack. Almost wrinkle free!
Another noteworthy feature for climbers is the harness compatible pockets. This jacket includes two elevated chest zipper pockets that don’t interfere with the harness, allowing you to quickly retrieve items from each pocket without rearranging your gear. It also includes two external mesh pockets for fast stashes.
Looking at the back of the jacket you’ll notice the distinct back panel that is designed to stretch when you move. I found this feature fit well while wearing a backpack, but it didn’t provide as much elasticity as I was hoping for while climbing. Having a wide shoulder base, I could feel the jacket getting stressed with far reaches.
During the initial few days of wearing this jacket, I was skeptical about the unique hood design. The jacket includes a half-height collar made of the same mapped insulation as the torso and the other half then turns into stretch fleece hood. Contrary to my first impressions, I found the high collar kept the wind chill from biting at my neck and the hood was versatile enough to use with different helmets.
The Bakosi jacket is constructed of Cordura ripstop, Cordura 4-way stretch, and Polartec Power Grid Fleece which makes the jacket less prone to catastrophic tears. Cordura Ripstop fabric, made with a special reinforcing technique, keeps the jacket resistant to rip and tear propagation. Throughout the ice climbing season, my gear is bound to get snagged on ice screws and having this premium fabric gives me a peace of mind. Sometimes duct tape won’t even save the day!
After multiple ice climbing trips in various conditions, I can say the Bakosi Jacket by BlackYak is a quality layer of protection that met my expectations. Some of the premium features that really stood out on this jacket are the athletic fit, high collar, and tall torso. Every ice climber likes to be fashionable, right? All joking aside, throughout my evaluation of the jacket I found it performs equally well as technical gear and something I could wear around town on a rest day. Having this versatility allows me to pack less on a trip but at the same time be covered for most situations. I found it was best paired with a light, next to skin layer, like the Patagonia Capilene. There were a few things I disliked about his jacket that may be worth noting for potential buyers. First was sleeve length, which seems to come up a bit short when extending my arms out fully. As I am 6’5” tall, this may be chalked up to “gorilla arm syndrome” but a little bit more length would have been ideal. Secondly, as mentioned above I noticed the back panel and underarm gusset didn’t provide enough freedom of movement as I hoped. I found myself having to consciously think about not over-stretching while climbing with the jacket.
Overall, I would give this jacket a respectable rating of 4 on a 1-5 scale and would recommend it to others.
Elijah Weber is an outdoor adventure photographer and athlete specializing in rock and ice climbing, skydiving, BASE jumping, and paragliding. A lifetime spent in the outdoors, his images capture the essence of adventure and the beauty of the environment. Connect with him at @weberphotography or www.verticalperceptions.com