Having lived in the same climate for the last five years, which is a new record in my adult life, I now feel adequately informed to finalize (for the moment) my quiver of ski gear and technical clothing. Here is one of the most recent jackets to earn a prime spot in the gear closet: the Flylow Dolce Vita Jacket. As a journalist, I often report on gear, which means that I test-drive quite a few items throughout the San Juan Mountains and at my home hill, Durango Mountain Resort. If it seems that my reviews up on this blog are mostly positive, it's because I pick my favorites to write about. There's no point in telling you about a jacket you shouldn't buy, right?
Over the past few years I've tried a bunch of insulated ski jackets, and some honestly suck. I won't name names, but if they're not about as breathable as a trash bag, they're as stiff and loud as tin foil. I don't want to be scaring away the snow hares! It can't be rocket science to come up with a comfy, durable, warm, AND cute jacket, can it?
Flylow is a startup outerwear company started by ski bums whose mission is to make burly but affordable gear for people who actually ski. A lot. We're not talking about the ski-three-times-a-year crowd. The Dolce Vita is one of Flylow's first girls' pieces (thanks for finally catering to the ladies, Flylow!) and I can say that they nailed it.
It's warm enough for zero-degree days but it still breathes pretty well when I'm burning the BTUs on the downhills. Plus the soft and stretchy shell material blocks the wind but isn't all noisy when you move around. The best part is that it looks damn good on girls, if I do say so myself. I've gotten at least three (unsolicited!) compliments on its figure-accentuating look at the resort. It's always nice when people can identify you as a female from a distance.
Flylow threw in a number of nifty features for good measure, like four internal pockets, extra-long pit zips, a hood that fits over a helmet but still cinches down for hat days, and a fleecey internal neck cuff that feels pretty nice on the cheeks. Plus there are wrist gaskets to keep drafts out of your sleeves.
That said, all gear can be improved. I found this jacket a tad bulky and heavy for backcountry forays. When I'm moving against gravity, I prefer the lightest bang for my buck. (Admittedly, I rarely skin up with more than a base layer and a shell.) One other quibble: For those skiers who must have powder skirts, this isn't the jacket for you. It has a drawstring at the bottom hem but no powder skirt.
For my needs, those are fair trade-offs, so this has become my go-to lift-lapping jacket. Backcountry skiers in colder climes could potentially make it an all-around jacket. But for $250, hell, it's an outrageous value.