When brands listen to the input of their team riders to develop and adjust products to their specifications, it’s a recipe for highly functional, practical gear. It sounds obvious, but sometimes shareholder interests or other corporate considerations, unfortunately, take precedent with certain companies. Not so for Burton.
In 1997, Craig Kelly approached the design team at Burton explaining that he needed a collection of uncompromising outerwear for missions in Alaska and in the backcountry. The result became known as [ak], in homage to Alaska. And in the spirit of Kelly’s early input in the design and materials used for [ak], Burton team riders including the likes of Kimmy Fasani and Danny Davis continue to go back and forth with Burton’s design team every season to test and refine [ak] products.
According to Burton senior global product line merchandiser, Charlie VanDerlip, the hallmark of [ak] is a commitment to best-in-class materials over anything else. The line also generally features a more articulated fit for increased range of motion which is essential in the backcountry.
Earlier this season, our own Dylan Heyden and Alyssa Eurell had the unique opportunity to put some pieces from Burton’s newest [ak] men’s and women’s lines to the test and weren’t disappointed. If you’re searching for top-tier outerwear with best-in-class dryness and breathability that also looks better than other stuff out there, you’re gonna want to keep reading.
Pros: Functional gear isn’t all about appearances, but let’s start there because the colorway I tested, in particular, totally pops. Under the hood, the Cyclic features a Gore-Tex 2L laminate that’s ideal for days when it’s puking. And Burton’s Living Liner wicks moisture. On testing day, the weather went from a chilly 20 degrees to sweltering 50 degrees and after opening the pit zips I was able to leave the jacket on to stay dry.
The location of the pockets on this one are also key. A small pass or chapstick pocket on the left bicep, outer chest pocket, inner cell phone pocket, and big mesh stash pockets all help to keep gear and other belongings organized and accessible, which is crucial. In terms of fit, I actually found that the medium fit perfectly (I’m 6’1″ and 190 lbs.). So, if you’re looking for a normal fit I might size down. Also, price is a major win here since shells of this caliber easily get into the five-to-six-hundred-dollar range.
Cons: For backcountry missions, the Cyclic isn’t the most packable jacket out there. Burton’s Stretch Hover jacket may be a better option if that’s a primary concern.
Pros: First impressions: the Therma-Pocket is a really amazing feature on the Kimmy Anorak. The insulated pocket for your phone prevents it from dying after an hour due to the cold. If you’re wearing bibs or even a mid-layer with pockets, the extra-long zipper also allows you to get into your inner pockets and grab what you need.
I’ve never worn an anorak before, and I really loved the whole pullover thing. It definitely looks great and it’s fun to stand out and also be super functional. Keep in mind that this is a shell, so you’ll want to layer accordingly, but because this features a Gore-Tex laminate, you can be confident you’ll stay warm in whipping wind and dry during the harshest weather.
Cons: Though I love the look of the pullover, when you’re frozen and have snow collected at the waist, pulling a snowy jacket over your head can result in snow or ice down the neck which isn’t ideal. Also, as I said, this jacket isn’t designed to stand alone, so I recommend a good mid-layer like this one.
Pros: These are your blizzard pants. Period. Deep Snow, lots of wind, cold temperatures. You name it. When you want to charge gnarly weather, the Summit Pants are what you need. I can’t recommend it enough to spend the extra cash on the insulated version. There’s nothing worse than freezing your butt off (literally) when you’re stranded on a chair. With a 2L Gore-Tex laminate, the Insulated Summit pants are super waterproof, with taping on the seams to keep the elements out. And despite the extra layer of insulation, these pants still had a great shape to them.
Cons: I’m not the biggest fan of leg vents without mesh, which is the case here. My worry there is if you need to vent heading downhill, you open yourself up to snow in your pants, which isn’t ideal.