The Outdoor Research Blackpowder II is a lightly insulated jacket that gets the job done as a basic and rugged resort jacket. The Outdoor Research Blackpowder II does a good job with temperature regulation especially since it’s a lighter jacket that can be used on warmer days at the resort or with more base layers for really cold days. However, it has quite a few shortcomings such as a lack of features to keep warm such as wrist gaiters and a full powder skirt and short fit in the arms and torso. While the jacket has a durable look, it showed some signs of fraying after testing that brings up doubts about its ability to hold up after repeated uses. Nevertheless, the Blackpowder II is a good choice for a simple resort jacket that will keep users warm and dry in mild conditions.
The Outdoor Research Blackpowder II is a lightweight jacket with 40 g/m2 Adrenloft insulation. The Blackpowder II uses a waterproof two-layer fabric that protects well against the elements and is lighter than heavier three-layer jackets. Since this jacket is constructed with minimal insulation, it wouldn’t be testers top choice for cold weather skiing, but is well suited for people who generally ski on warmer days or that usually run warm and would prefer to just wear more layers on colder days. Initial impressions about the fabric of the Blackpowder II led testers to believe it was highly durable. However, during the testing period of a winter season testers noticed some superficial fraying on the cuffs which didn’t compromise any functioning of the jacket. Testers doubted that such fraying would affect the structure of the jacket over time, still worth noting.
The Blackpowder II has plenty of useful features that are standard in a resort skiing jacket though it is lacking in a couple others. The jacket has two chest pockets; one of which is a vertical zippered pocket that has headphone accessibility, and another is a horizontal buttoned pocket with a flap. These pockets are a bit on the smaller side compared to other jackets but will still easily fit a smartphone. The jacket also has two hand pockets and an interior pocket that can also fit a phone. Testers like the two large interior mesh pockets that provided plenty of space for extra layers and lunch so that a trip back to the car or lugging a pack was unnecessary. Unlike most of the other jackets tested, the Blackpowder II doesn’t have a full power skirt and instead just has a hem that can be cinched with a drawstring cord. Testers noticed that the jacket didn’t stay on snugly over ski pants as easily with just the cinch hem. The Blackpowder II also features an insulated hood which is a bit on the small side though it still fit over the helmet we used. The jacket also doesn’t have wrist gaiters which not everyone likes but is still a nice feature to keep out cold air and would be especially useful on a jacket like this that is a bit short in the sleeves.
On snowy and blustery days the Blackpowder II held up to expectations fairly well. Testers had no complaints when snow started to fly and felt confident in their ability to stay dry in the jacket. Testers did mention, as previously stated, that the lack of a powder skirt would occasionally allow snow and cold air up around the waist.
This jacket is best used for resort skiing on milder days rather than sub-zero conditions. However, for its intended use as a minimally insulated jacket it works great to stay warm even when it’s snowing out. Testers also like the added versatility of it being lightly insulated since on days when temperatures fluctuated widely then they could put on warmer layers underneath or take them off and not overheat on sunny days. The jacket also performed well for breathability since testers never experienced any clamminess instead the jacket on warmer days. It has large zippered pit zips that allow for plenty of airflow to cool down when necessary.
Testers didn’t love the overall fit or style of this jacket. It has a tight fit partly owing to the stiff fabric that it is made of—it limits some range of movement. The arms were especially short and when wearing short-cuffed gloves, snow got onto wrists. One possible solution to this problem is to size up when ordering this jacket but then it may feel too loose in other areas. Another complaint that testers had was that the cuffs are a fixed size with only a Velcro closing to tighten it down. Testers weren’t able to easily fit gloves underneath the jacket cuffs so it only works well with gloves that can fit over the top of a jacket.
Value & Style
Value and style are a couple more factors to take into consideration but that don’t count towards the jacket’s ratings score. Testers thought the overall value of the Outdoor Research Blackpowder II was decent at $299 for a no frills resort jacket. This is a bit cheaper than most of the other jackets tested but not by enough to make it an obvious choice over other jackets with more features and more a comfortable fit. This jacket has a certain rugged style that is distinctive for a womens jacket. While this style may appeal to some people, female testers said they would opt for a jacket with a more feminine style and better selection of jacket colors.