I’ve now got about eighty days of skiing in the Lab Coat, and have bootpacked and shouldered skis up peaks a ton. I’ve worn a pack on about thirty of these days, and I don’t take good care of my stuff. (Except for my Anon M2 goggles, because they are awesome and probably the first piece of gear I’ve ever tried to be gentle with.)
After fifty days, the Lab Coat literally showed no signs of wear. Not a single stitch on the right shoulder (the side I carry my skis) or left shoulder looked distressed, nor did the fabric, anywhere. At some point during the next thirty days of use, I got a faint mark / scuff on the right arm from what was likely a sharp ski edge. You can barely see it. I have had no issues with the zipper tape, or tabs.
All I’ll say is that, on the breathability front, we know of no more breathable waterproof membrane currently on the market. If breathability is your primary concern, you could save yourself some time by only shopping for Polartec Neoshell jackets.
I won’t disagree with Sam Shaheen’s take on what that means in the real world, but I can tell you that on some very warm days this season at Taos, I have never removed the Lab Coat for the hike up to Kachina Peak. Once or twice, I have bothered to take my midlayer off (in both instances, I was wearing The North Face Thermoball, which isn’t a very breathable midlayer). I just unzipped the front zipper and the big pit zips and started hiking.
I probably don’t need to point this out, but just in case: this is an uninsulated jacket made of the world’s most breathable laminate. It’s not designed to be warm. That’s what base layers and midlayers are for.
More to the point is that, on the hottest days of the season (and on some very hot days down in New Zealand), I could happily wear a super light base layer and this jacket and be comfortable.
Since I’m prepared to put this jacket in league with another very high-end jacket I’ve been reviewing this season, the $650 Arc’teryx Caden, made with new GORE-tex Pro fabric, I don’t think the Lab Coat’s price tag is out of line. Especially since I actually prefer the Lab Coat to the Caden, given the fit and where I personally spend most of my time skiing.
The Arc’teryx Caden is a stellar, serious piece technical outerwear, no question, and I am not about to knock it. But I regard it as more of a premium, severe-weather piece. If I regularly skied in driving rain and sleet, or was doing unsupported, multi-day backcountry tours, it would be easier to make a stronger case for it. But to date, I am completely satisfied with the performance of the Lab Coat (and the Lab Coat 2.0 has seen a price drop to $480 USD.)
So far, so good. No issues, no leaks, no cause for concern. I’ve stayed completely dry in this jacket.
The Flylow Lab Coat is an excellent jacket, and we have become big fans of Polartec Neoshell. If you prefer a relaxed, freeride fit, and are looking for a fully-featured, durable jacket that you can wear every single day of the season for both resort riding and backcountry use, then I would take a very serious look at the Lab Coat, or the Lab Coat 2.0.