Black Crows Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket Review
August 20, 2018
GEAR INSTITUTE RATINGS
Durable face fabric
Lots of features
Not super breathable
Pit zips difficult to open
The Black Crows Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex jacket is a great in-bounds piece that has a comfortable modern fit and ample storage for a day on the hill. The Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex features a very durable face fabric and uses Primaloft insulation with a Gore-Tex lining for weatherproofness and great durability in a variety of conditions. Poor temperature control was testers’ chief complaint.
The Black Crows Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket features a 2-layer waterproof Gore-Tex shell and Primaloft Silver insulation for warmth. The Gore-Tex shell kept out the elements like expected and the soft Primaloft lining provided plenty of warmth for the coldest days on the mountain. The Corpus Insulated uses a tough, durable face fabric that looks like it would last for many years to come. The high denier face fabric stood up to lots of abuse on the hill, and testers were confident in the jacket’s ability to still look great despite many falls in steep terrain or chance encounters with stray branches.
This jacket is equipped with all the features expected from a resort jacket and then some. It has double hand pockets, as well as snap front pockets, a chest pocket, a pass pocket on the left shoulder and one oversized internal mesh pocket with plenty of space to store gloves, gear, and snacks. The Black Crows Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket also has a neoprene insulated internal chest pocket with a built-in headphone port to keep the cellphone warm enough to keep the tunes rocking throughout the day. Another handy feature is the removable powder skirt and wrist gaiters that also help to keep out cold air. While the jacket has waterproof pit zips for temperature control, testers found that they were a bit difficult to unzip on their own. Black Crows made sure to include a RECCO reflector which is a feature that doesn’t affect usability but can be a game changer in the unlikely scenario of being caught in a treewell or an unlikely avalanche while at a resort.
The 2-layer Gore-Tex fabric shed wind and snow like a champ and the Primaloft insulation kept testers plenty warm while out in the elements. The Gore-Tex fabric of the Corpus Insulated Jacket is extremely waterproof and testers had no complaints during testing even on wetter days at the mountain.
The one feature that testers had a few complaints about was the temperature control. While the Black Crows Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket is very warm overall, testers noticed a surprising lack of breathability compared to other jackets in the test. When the sun was out and/or testers found themselves hiking to steeper options in-bounds, the jacket quickly became clammy. The pit zips were difficult to use due to the toughness of the waterproof zippers, causing testers to frequently have to ask a friend to help unzip. Once the pit zips were opened, they had an “all or nothing” effect, causing a chill to blast through the jacket when the opening caught the wind, but with little to no relief otherwise.
The Black Crows Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket has a modern in-bounds cut, with a slightly longer length and loose fit giving testers plenty of flexibility and freedom of motion. The jacket never felt restrictive, but the Primaloft insulation in the sleeves did occasionally bunch up in the elbows, but usually only enough to remind us it’s there. It is cut a little longer than other jackets in the test which comes down to personal preference. The sleeves are a good length and provide enough room between the thumb cuffs and the rest of the sleeve to allow for under cuff gloves.
Value & Style
The Black Crows Corpus Insulated Gore-Tex jacket has a freestyle look with a fishtail cut. Despite Black Crows being from the heart of ski country in Chamonix, the jacket doesn’t have much of a European “alpinist” look to it, but rather what you might see in the park being worn by the Olympic halfpipe crew. This is a crowd pleaser for anyone looking to fit in and still have a good looking piece to wear to the bar after a full day shredding. While there is no denying the quality of material and abundance of features, this is still the most expensive of the jackets tested at the price of $599.
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HOW WE TESTED
All the ski jackets and pants reviewed are tested by the same five criteria; materials, features, weatherproofness, temperature control and fit/comfort. All the pieces were tested over multiple days in a variety of conditions to see how they perform throughout an entire ski season. Testers do all they can to try out every piece on the same day to compare each one in similar conditions and they get out on lots of days to test the jackets in a range from sunny spring days to stormy wintery days to see how they hold up.
For materials, the specifications provided by the brands is often very important. These specifications tell us what type (if any) and amount of waterproofing or insulation a jacket may have. With a wide variety of third-party insulating and waterproofing materials available, as well as the recent rise of “in house” proprietary materials being used, it is important to know exactly what fabrics and insulations are being added to each piece in an effort to distinguish what makes one piece better than the next. Since testers typically only have only one season to test these pieces, durability is determined in part by any obvious fraying, ripping or other signs of reduced durability.
Since heavily insulated jackets are primarily intended for lift accessed skiing and riding there is an expectation that features will be tailored to provide the ultimate in comfort and convenience when on the mountain. This means that features such as a powder skirt, pockets for gear, a dedicated pass pocket, a helmet compatible hood, and wrist gaiters are all expected and then extra features such as a RECCO reflector or insulated phone pocket are considered a bonus.
The weatherproofness of a jacket first depends on what the intended purpose of the jacket is and then is based on the specifications that the brands supply. Since most heavily insulated jackets will be used at the resort under cold conditions there is an expectation that the jacket be able to shed blowing snow for the stormiest of days yet also fairly breathable. Since these jackets are for very cold weather, waterproofness isn’t as necessary.
The temperature control of a jacket is also based on the specifications that the manufacturer provides. The line between a lightly and heavily insulated jacket isn’t clear cut but generally one would expect to use a heavily insulated jacket primarily when the temperatures drop well below freezing and need to still be comfortable when the day proceeds to get even colder. The jackets are then rated to how well they do in very cold temperatures and more importantly how well the jacket does when the temperatures fluctuate which is a common occurrence for any regular snow sports enthusiast. Breathability plays a big factor here because the breathability of a jacket will affect how warm or cold one feels as heat generated while skiing and then go sit on a long chair lift afterwards. The ability to fully unzip pit zips is a crucial part of temperature control since that is often the largest factor in preventing overheating.
Lastly, the fit and comfort category is fairly subjective but having multiple testers use the product provides for a good range of body shapes and opinions. Factors that are important here are how long or short a jacket is and if it is true to size. For determining comfort, the amount of stretch the jacket has and how soft it is on the inside often plays into the rating.