Home » Climb » Hike » Ski » Currently Reading:

Truly Tested: Stoic Bombshell

March 25, 2010 Climb, Hike, Ski No Comments

Cold day at Hidden Valley, RMNP. Photo by Doug Schnitzspahn

By Dougald MacDonald

I’ve been wearing the Bombshell Jacket, the flagship waterproof-breathable shell from Backcountry.com’s new Stoic line, for much of this winter. And after months of backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and a bit of ice climbing, I’m definitely impressed.

At first, I wasn’t at all psyched with the jacket’s fit. At a trailhead in the Indian Peaks, as I pulled on the coat, my female skiing partner gave me that look I know oh-too-well from my wife—the look that says: “You’re not going to wear that, are you?” Don’t get me wrong: The jacket looks sharp. Mine is black with turquoise highlights, and the cut and detailing are fine. The problem is the super-trim fit around the waist, which would have looked great when I was a 145-pounder in college but looks and feels a bit snug as a 162-pounder (OK, 164-pounder).

I almost always wear a medium jacket, and the Bombshell fit me perfectly in the chest, shoulders, and arms; if I sized up, I think there would be too much fabric bunched around these areas. I grew to appreciate the trim cut on long ski tours and while climbing; the jacket fit great under a harness, for example. But it limits your options for layering. If you wear your jacket as a true shell, over multiple insulating layers, think about a larger size. If you wear the shell over light inner layers while moving and throw a puffy over the top when you stop, as I increasingly do, this fit might be perfect. If you’re just thinking about taking up ski touring to lose a few years of accumulated paunch, consider another coat.

Despite my quibbles about the fit, the Bombshell hits nearly every other note perfectly. The weight (about 1.5 pounds for the medium on my postage scale) is perfect for winter, providing a measure of insulation as well as full wind and water protection from the 3-layer, slightly stretchy fabric. Five clean and well-placed external pockets give ample storage options, without adding bulk, and there’s a slick media pocket inside. The jacket’s zips are super-smooth and easy to grab. The powder skirt zips out (which seems to help with the fit, by the way). The hood fits well over most helmets, with a short, stiff brim for visibility, and it has effective adjustments; it feels like there’s a bit too much extra fabric around the neck and chin when the hood is up and the front zip is down, but I appreciated the protection and comfort when I had to zip up completely while skinning into a ground blizzard in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Wrist gaiter.

The jacket seemed to breathe well, with mid-length pit zips; unfortunately, the Bombshell failed one of my standard shell-jacket tests, which is ease of use for pit zips. I like to be able to grab the zippers and open or shut the pit openings with gloves and pack on and with no yoga contortions; the Bombshell required too much stopping and fiddling to make adjustments—it seems like the zips are placed slightly too far toward the back. On the other hand, I loved the jacket’s elastic wrist gaiter / monkey paw thingambobs. Normally I feel like these just get in the way, but the Bombshell’s are so clean and unobtrusive that I slipped into the thumb hole and slid into my gloves more often than not, and they definitely kept my hands warmer and drier; when I wasn’t using the gaiters, they seemed to vanish. Thumbs up! (Or is that thumbs in?) Note that I have fairly small hands; guys with bigger mitts might find these cuffs constricting.

After a winter of fairly hard use, including several days of multiple close encounters with the pines on nearby ski hills, my final observation is that the jacket still looks like it just came out of the box. I suspect the Bombshell will last for years, and that makes the quite reasonable $259 retail price look even better. Plus, right now you can get the jacket in most sizes and colors for $181.30 (30 percent off) at Backcountry.com. That’s a steal.

Comment on this Article:







Join Us…

We welcome stories, photos, video, and cool trip reports. Drop us a line, and we'll get you started.

Recent Comments

  • Jamie Jones: The secret chute was only a secret top all you easterners....
  • Jeff: Awesome!!!! Are they ever going to be published in book form! These stories need to be made into a movie!!!!...
  • Karen D McCall: What a story, I read every word, absolutely enthralled. As an aging outdoor enthusiast headed for hip replacement, I can...
  • Kirk Miller: New rats in the Platte. Well done sir....
  • Dale: I met Clerin Zumwalt hiking on the Long's Peak trail back in the 1990's. He was with his family and was wearing his RMNP...
  • Ben Collett: Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see MP.com for details) th...
  • Tim: Thanks for the great writeup. We just did this loop yesterday and had a blast. Do you know if anyone has skied the coulo...
  • 14er Sports: Awesome accomplishment!...
  • Kailas: Yes Wick there are that many people. And they are all from back east or Texass... booooo. I've skied up here for ove...
  • jeff: What amazing experiences Dr. Cook had. I feel so fortunate that I've found this website and have been able to enjoy Dr. ...

Supported By…

Category RSS Feeds

Firsts

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake [...]

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

Colorado’s Shelf Road , a network of vertical limestone cliffs near Cañon City best known for sunny moderates, has a new 5.13d pitch and may soon get its first 5.14. On Sunday, March 7, Mark Anderson redpointed a striking, super-technical arête at Cactus Cliff that was bolted in the early 1990s but apparently never free-climbed. [...]

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story.
While researching routes [...]

Supported By…

Classics

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

March 18, 2010

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

In the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, a granite spindle called Zowie protrudes from the convoluted south face of Mt. Otis. Just to Zowie’s left is a zigzagging chimney and gully system that holds an unlikely mixed-climbing gem. Brain Freeze was discovered very recently (early 2008) by Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan. Several parties [...]

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

February 19, 2010

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

Kevin Landolt is a skier/climber/student, based in Fort Collins, who writes the fun Alpine Ambition blog for the Mountain Shop. Here, Kevin describes a favorite midwinter ski tour near Cameron Pass offering a little of everything.
Trailhead: Lake Agnes Road, 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass
Tour Distance: 7.3 miles
Total Vert: ca. 2,900′
Season: Midwinter to spring; two [...]

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

January 28, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

Two of the wildest and most difficult water-ice pitches in the state are in plain view from Highway 50, en route to Ouray and Telluride from points north, plunging down the sheer face of Grand Mesa. Yet few people notice them, and far fewer have climbed them. The routes are tough, to be sure, but [...]

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

December 28, 2009

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

Mt. Bancroft’s rocky east ridge is a terrific mountaineering adventure for Front Range climbers, beginning less than an hour from Denver. The 13,250-foot peak is relatively close to the road, and avalanche danger can be easily managed, making this perhaps the most accessible technical winter summit on the entire Front Range. The east ridge offers [...]

Wild

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

February 5, 2010

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

Photographer James Beissel sent us this fantastic dawn-patrol shot of the full moon setting over South and North Arapaho in the Indian Peaks, shot from Flagstaff Mountain. Said Beissel: ”The first full moon of the New Year is often called the Wolf Moon. The name comes from Native American culture, in which it was associated with [...]

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

January 20, 2010

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

By Bob Berwyn
Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development, and water exports. Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May.
Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by Congress [...]

Supported By…