Bombproof bibs with backcountry street cred? That's the Flylow Baker Bibs
. These pants epitomize burly. The fabric, fit, and feel all inspire confidence. It feels more like wearing armor than clothing.
Lead Test Editor and IFMGA Mountain Guide Jediah Porter in action in his home turf in Wyoming's Tetons. Testing the Baker Bibs in this relatively cold and dry climate wasn't as useful as we might have found somewhere closer to the coast.
Fit and Comfort
This pair of ski pants fit loosely and generously. The stiff fabric feels a little confining during extreme movements as well as in backcountry usage. Standard ski-resort travel, however, will indicate no limitations in mobility. The bib-style construction has some devout fans, while others prefer to stick with standard waist-height pants. If you are a bib fan, you'll find these are pretty standard in their fit and comfort. Note that if you ski with a backpack, either at the ski area or in the backcountry, the buckles on the Baker shoulder straps can interfere and be a bit uncomfortable.
Other bibs in our test included the Spyder Dare
and the Norrona Lofoten Gore Tex Pro Pants
. In terms of comfort, both surpass the FlyLow
. The Spyder Dare
has a silky nylon lining while the Norrona Pants
has much thinner and softer fabric.
The Baker Bibs
are the most weather resistant pants in our test. The fabric, waterproof/breathable laminate, and construction are all bomber. We've tested these in gnarly storms on Mammoth Mountain and in windy, wet storms in British Columbia's Coast Range. Nowhere has the protection been breached. Additionally, the bib construction effectively and completely seals the dreaded gap between uppers and bottoms. One-piece suits may be making a small come back, but otherwise bibs remain the best way to seal this gap.
In terms of weather protection, the only product to best the full Baker Bibs
is the Norrona Lofoten
pairing. If you purchase both the Lofoten jacket and pants, you can zip them together into a one piece suit. For this reason, we granted both these Norwegian products, the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pants
and Norrona Lofoten Shell
our Top Pick award for weather protection.
In slushy conditions, some water sticks to the outer layer, but nothing gets through. The stiff fabric lends additional confidence to the weather protection.
Just like with the Arc'teryx Sabre
and Norrona Lofoten
, the Baker Bibs
get all their insulation value from what is worn beneath. The Bakers
are constructed in "three-layer" style. The outer fabric is laminated to the waterproof/breathable membrane, which is in turn protected on the inside with a laminated lightweight tricot fabric. This sandwich of textiles behaves and insulates like a single layer of fabric. There is ample space inside to layer any amount of insulation.
In order to effectively vent the greater coverage of this design, bibs must be equipped with comprehensive ventilation. Flylow succeeds in this department. The Baker Bibs
have twice as many zippered vents as any other pants in our test. The inner leg vents are lower than those on Best Buy The North Face Freedom Pant
but not turned forward like those on the Mammut Bormio
. Like on the Norrona Lofoten Pants
, the outer leg vents run from the knee to up under the armpit. Without a jacket, this construction vents well. However, much of the airflow is lost with a top on. In the end, the plentiful vents satisfactorily negate the humidifying effect of full-coverage shell gear, and then some. Because of the additional coverage and additional vents, the overall ventilation feels on par with that of our favored Norrona Lofoten Pants
The ultra long outer thigh vents also serve to help the pants go on and off more easily.
Flylow aims their style at the hardcore ski bum crowd. This is a revered demographic among dedicated skiers. In this fashion, they hit the nail on the head. These pants inspire visions of 140+ day local skiers at gritty, steep hills deep in the wild. You'll feel like the bearded guy living in 120 square feet in the snow-socked neighborhood of Truckee or Driggs.
With five pockets, one containing a key/pass clip, the Baker Bibs
are well-appointed to organize whatever you want to carry. The Arc'teryx Sabre
adds a Recco reflector for an even better features score, while the Columbia Bugaboo II Pant
has fewer features than any in our test.
The FlyLow Baker Bibs, when paired with their Quantum Jacket (which we also tested), makes for a sweet shell combination. The two can be snapped together for even greater protection.
While FlyLow pitches these pants as designed "for mountaineering ascents", our testing team included dedicated backcountry skiers that would choose almost any of the other pants in our test for such application. Only the insulated Top Pick Spyder Dare
and Columbia Bugaboo Pant II
are more ski resort specific, in our collective opinion. Essentially, these are excellent lift-accessed ski pants. The bulk, weight, and shoulder-strap buckles make them less than ideal as backcountry skiing pants.
The Arc'teryx Sabre
pants and Norrona Lofoten
are more expensive than this contender. However, none of the pants in our test will last you as long as the Baker Bibs
. If value and how long a product lasts is a function of what you purchase, the Baker Bibs
will rate highly for your dollar.
We recommend any bib style pants for hard-charging skiers in gnarly weather. If you don't hesitate to head out into the storm, consider the Flylow Baker Bib
Jediah Porter rocking the FlyLow bibs in an earlier tested color scheme. The bibs have been updated in color selection and some minor features since then.