Blackyak Pali GTX Pro 3L Women's Jacket | Review
Sophie Nicholson gives her verdict on this technical waterproof shell for mountaineering following some winter testing in the Scottish Highlands
Korean company Blackyak smashed their way onto our radar back in 2016 when they picked up a record-breaking 11 ISPO awards at the world’s largest winter sports trade show held annually in Munich, Germany. Since then the mountaineering clothing brand has continued to go from strength to strength, forging successful partnerships with influential climbers and increasing their presence in the European and North American markets.
This women's jacket, which is also available in a men's version, is the premium product in their Pali Line – a technical expedition collection aimed at backcountry skiers, climbers and mountaineers. Products in the Pali Line undergo rigorous testing at altitudes of up to 5,000m in Tibet so if you’re looking for a shell that you can rely on to deliver in the most extreme of mountain conditions, then the Pali GTX Pro Shell is certainly qualified for the job.
At 398g, it's exceptionally light for such a hardwearing 3 layer alpine jacket. Fully waterproof, windproof, breathable and stretchy, it’s designed to deliver all the essential features required to facilitate fast and efficient mountain expeditions.
"The fabric offers a heap of weather protection and it also does a seriously impressive job of keeping you moving when you really need to push on."
The Blackyak Pali GTX Pro Shell’s technical mountaineering DNA is immediately apparent as soon as you pull it on. The cut is long and slim, designed to protect you from the elements and minimise bulk so you may need to size up. I'm a UK size 10 and tested the jacket out in a 38/M and could have done with a little more room when wearing a hybrid mid layer underneath it. Style-wise however, it’s spot on. The colour combinations, lines and design are feminine without venturing into girly terrain so you’ll be taken seriously out on the mountain whilst still looking good. Result.
In terms of features, the Pali GTX Pro Shell comes with all the classics you’d expect from a technical mountaineering hardshell – 2 large front pockets, pit zips, a neat internal smartphone-sized pocket, Velcro cuffs and a fully adjustable hood. Skiers may lament the lack of internal stuff pockets to stash skins and whilst the hood is helmet compatible and easy to adjust on the move when wearing gloves, we would have appreciated it being a bit larger and offering a touch more cheek protection when battling with spindrift and horizontal Scottish hail.
On the subject of harsh weather, the jacket's hydrostatic head of 20,000mm means it's genuinely waterproof. The 20,000mm waterproof rating is the standard used at meticulous mandatory kit checks at the likes of the UTMB so you can rest assured that when it comes to keeping you protected, this jacket is the real deal.
The Pali Gore-Tex Pro fabric offers a heap of weather protection and it also does a seriously impressive job of keeping you moving when you really need to push on. It’s breathable (thanks to the Gore Micro Grid internal backer fabric) and the strategically placed Pro shell stretch material at the back combine to help you to go harder, higher and further in the high mountains.
At over £500 the Blackyak Pali GTX Pro Shell demands significant investment and will require consumers to stray from more familiar top quality brands and into the arms of a relative unknown. A tough ask perhaps but those who commit will reap the rewards of a fully waterproof, lightweight, breathable, stretchy, durable 3 layer mountaineering hardshell that will take you to the summit in style.
Blackyak Pali GTX Pro Shell: Full Specifications
Available in women's 34-42; men's S-XL / 2 chest pockets with zips / 1 inside storage pocket / 1 sleeve pocket / hood adjustment system / hood peak stiffener / comfort collar / no shoulder seams / hemline adjustment / exist slits for earphones / Velcro cuffs / 20,000mm waterproof rating / Breathability: < 6 m²Pa/W