Get in the Zone…jacket.
Dakine has made a name for itself over the years for its ski and snowboard accessories, flirting on the edge with the big boys in the industry. Their products are legendary, especially their packs, for clean lines with flashes of bold color; uber functional with just enough pizzaz to satisfy the young. Personally, I used two sizes of Dakine packs out West – the Heli and Heli-Pro – for backcountry skiing and currently use the Session for mountain biking. They are bomb-proof, fit great, and have all the little, specific pockets I love in my gear. So when it was announced that the company would follow up their successful venture into the glove market with a full line of outerwear for the 2012/13 winter season, we were stoked to take a look at what they would offer.
We were not disappointed.
We plucked the Zone Jacket from their full catalog that includes socks, base layers, mid layers, jackets, and pants. The Zone falls in the mid-price level of their jacket fleet and is a fairly basic 2-layer 15K shell; not too heavy for East Coast riding, not too light for that occasional deep cold snap. This jacket has all the technical outerwear features that are more or less standard these days in the price range such as fully taped seams, water resistant zippers, closed cell mesh, DWR finish, etc. It also has the key features I love like pit zips, hand gaiters, drop hood, and that fine fleece around the collar that keeps my beard cozy. The inner media pocket is closed with Velcro instead of a zipper, which at first turned me off. I lost an iPod years ago from an interior Velcro pocket, so I’m very biased about this, admittedly, very particular feature. Upon further inspection, however, it takes two hands a quite a bit of elbow grease to open, so I’m satisfied that my media will stay in one place. We wore the Zone on cold bluebird days and during heavy, almost freezing snowstorms and it repelled the wetness and expelled the body heat like a champ.
In typical Dakine fashion, what sets this jacket apart is not in the technical department, but in the fit and style department. Slipping into the Zone is like unexpectedly running into an old friend at a bar: you’re surprised how comfortable you feel sliding back into your old routine. The fit is baggy, but not too baggy; toeing the line between geezers trying too hard and young bucks acting a fool. The sleeves are the perfect length; sleeves’ being overly long is a common problem I’ve found in today’s market – I used to be a solid large, now I often swim in a medium. The styling incorporates the bold colors and straight lines Dakine is known for and the two-tone works on the slopes, but is simple enough for just wearing around town.
Dakine built its brand by producing superior ski and snowboard accessories at a good price point and with a classic, instantly recognizable style. It may take a few seasons to catch on, but their new outerwear collection certainly inherits the same qualities.