Dakine Balkan Jacket Review
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Looking for an insulated, waterproof jacket, chock full of features with a more relaxed fit? Keep reading…
January and early February were super warm in Colorado. I was chomping at the bit to get this jacket out, but with the amount of insulation in the Balkan it didn’t make sense to take it out on the hill. Alas, during the final two weeks of February the temps dropped and the snow dumped. I skied this jacket a handful of times. The following comments are based on my time spent on the hill during cold temps and some pow days.
Dakine Balkan Features:
This Dakine Balkan literally has all the bells and whistles. Seriously, it has a safety whistle! There are too many features on the Balkan to write about all of them, so I will hit some that stood out.
- Helmet Compatible Hood – This is a key feature on any jacket. If you get caught in a storm you want a hood that works with your helmet. I rode with this jacket when the wind was whipping and the snow was dumping. I had to unzip the jacket a little to get the hood on. (This is common in most jackets). After I got the hood on, I used the single pull cord on the back of the hood to dial the fit. After I zipped the jacket up, I was able to breath easy thanks to the collar vent system.
- Media Pocket – In my opinion this is the most well thought out feature on the Balkan. The pocket is located on the outside of the jacket in a location that is easy to access (left breast). The pocket has a feed through hole to the interior of the jacket with a loop near the neck to thread your head phones through. The pocket is well insulated so your device keeps warm even during the coldest conditions.
- YKK® Aqua-guard Water Resistant Zippers – I like water resistant zippers. I do not like two-way zippers on the center zipper. They are awkward and a pain in the butt to use especially when you have gloves on. For future designs, I would recommend that Dakine go with a one-way zipper.
- Pit Zips – The pit zips are two-way zippers too. What’s nice about this feature is that you can open the zip in either direction. I found the zips easy to open but hard to close. I had to take my gloves off on the lift to get them closed. (Not good when it’s really cold out).
Other noteworthy features include, an inner pass pocket on the waist, powder skirt, wrist gaiters and shoulder prints for pack integration. Given the amount of features on this jacket, I am surprised they did not put a RECCO chip on the Balkan.
Dakine Balkan Performance:
I rode the Dakine Balkan on some cold blower pow days. I wore a mid-weight quarter zip wool and was super toasty. Dakine markets this jacket as “Standard Fit”. What Dakine calls “Standard” is more of a relaxed/park fit that is quite baggy (at least on my physique). I always wear a medium and the jacket was larger on me. Maybe size down if you are on the fence. The length of the sleeves was fine, but I had a lot of room around the torso. I would call this more of a relaxed fit. Even though the jacket was baggy for my normal fit preference, it was VERY comfortable and I had full range of motion. The upside is you can add layers as you see fit.
The shell of the jacket consists of a 2L Gore-Tex material. This coupled with 100G of PrimaLOFT makes for a pretty bombproof jacket. On a zero degree day with one layer, I was extremely warm. The flip side of 100G of PrimLOFT is that if you work for your turns you will get hot quick. This jacket becomes too warm within minutes of starting a bootpack or a skin.
As mentioned above, I rode this jacket on a cold blower pow day. It was dumping for the first part of the morning and the flakes slid right off the Gore-Tex. I do not foresee waterproofness being an issue with this jacket since it should only be used it when its super cold and unfrozen moisture will be nonexistent. I rode the Balkan during some windy days and I was impervious to any wind that was served up to the Balkan.
Dakine Balkan Final Thoughts:
Who is this Jacket For? The Dakine Balkan is excellent for comfortable resort riding on cold days. I think this jacket would be at home on an east coast resort in Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine. The Balkan is very baggy so a more relaxed fit needs to be in you wheelhouse. If you like hike-to terrain or dabble in the side country, this jacket would probably be too hot for you. Like I said before, if you are looking for an insulated, waterproof jacket, chock full of features with a more relaxed fit, buy this jacket.
The Dakine Balkan is available in a variety of colors; Black, Drizzle, Ocean and Rust. For more info visit amazon.com/dakine.
Dakine Balkan Specs:
- Shell: 2L Gore-Tex® Plain Weave
- Face: DWR finish
- Insulation: 100G PrimaLOFT® ONE in Body; 60G in Sleeves; and 40G in Hood
- Lining: Taffeta, Brushed Tricot
- Exterior: Helmet Compatible Hood, Bonded Hood Brim, One Draw Cord System for Hood, Collar Venting System, Shoulder Print for Pack Integration, YKK® Aqua-guard Water Resistant Zippers, Two-way Opening Center Front Zipper, Draw Cord System in Front Hand Pockets, Wrist Gaiters, Napoleon Pocket for Phone/Media Device, Sleeve Pass Pocket, Two-way Zippers at Under Arm Vents
- Interior: Fully Taped Seams, Full Inner Storm Flap, Chin Flap Zipper Cover, Goggle Pocket, Safety Whistle Pocket, Inner Storage Pocket, Inner Pass Pocket, Attached Powder Skirt with Lycra, Hook System on Powder Skirt, Stow Away Snaps for Powder Skirt