The Niata down insulated jacket is part of Black Yak’s Pali expedition line. The namesake of the Pali line is the Pali Yak, an ungulate who resides 5000m above sea level in the harsh mountain climate of Tibet. These Yaks are able to thrive in the most extreme conditions due to their protective coats and strong bodies. While having a strong body is up to you, Black Yak has the coats covered.
Black Yak is a relatively new name to most North Americas but due to the quality of their apparel, you should get ready to hear a lot more about this company.
The Niata is filled with traceable goose down with a fill power of 750 cuin (cubic inches per ounce). The fill has a 90:10 ratio which refers to the down to feather ratio; the first number being down percentage and the second being the percentage of feathers. Down clusters offer better insulation than feathers, and 90:10 is about as good as it gets.
In high compression areas, G-LOFT synthetic insulation is used alongside the goose down. G-LOFT maintains superior insulation compared to down when compressed, as down is more dependant on loft for its insulative properties. The shell is made with RIPSTOP CORDURA and finished with a DWR.
The hood opening, sleeve cuffs, and waist hem are all elasticized to keep body heat in, and the weather out.
Black Yak Down Stretch Zones facilitate extended range of motion through the shoulders and upper back. This is accomplished with the use of select stretch materials and the YAK BOX-WALL construction.
The Niata has a total of 5 pockets. Two handwarmer pockets with zippers on the outside, and three on the inside; one stash pocket with a zipper and two larger mesh pockets.
The Black Yak Niata Down Jacket is an expedition ready jacket and is best suited for cold and dry environments. If the Niata is more insulation than you are looking for, Black Yak has a more casual insulator that still fits the technical needs of the backcountry athlete.
The Black Yak Betizu Hoody is a technical yet casual fleece garment. A unique combination of performance materials and casual design create something that looks and feels like a hoody, yet performs like a mid-layer fleece jacket.
The Betizu combines CORDURA and high loft fleece to create a durable insulator with a smooth finish. CORDURA HEAVYWEIGHT FLEECE and CORDURA 4WAY STRETCH provide uninhibited range of motion and the coziness that one expects from a hoody.
As I mentioned in the Black Yak Hariana Mid-Shell review, I am really impressed with this brand. Though they may be new to the America’s, Black Yak clearly has experience with producing premium products.
My one complaint with one of the two insulating layers is that I found that the Niata jacket was just barely long enough, and fit a little tight around the torso. While this may not be what we typically expect from a puffy, it does make sense if one is considering wearing it under a shell. I think with the way the Hariana fits, it would be totally reasonable to wear the Niata under the Hariana jacket without anything to complain about; except maybe the length of the jackets as they both fit a bit short. The Betizu hoody, on the other hand, was longer in the torso and had a comfortable, active fit. I can’t say I really understand the discrepancy there, but my advice would be to try on multiple sizes before you buy a Black Yak garment to make sure you find the size that fits the way you like. For the record, all garments reviewed were mediums and I am 6ft tall and 175lb.
Otherwise, these jackets are bomber. Comfortable, warm, and fully featured. Between the two, they cover both ends of the insulating jacket spectrum; the Niata being the full puffy and the Betizu being a more casual jacket that can be comfortably worn under any jacket.
Where the Niata comes in strong is, of course, it’s warmth and comfort. The added stretchy properties make it more suited to active pursuits, and while I took points away for its tight fit, if one was to wear it under a shell, that tight fit might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Another big win for the Niata is all the pockets! If you’ve read many of my clothing reviews, you’ll be familiar with my affection for pockets. Putting zippers on the handwarmer pockets is a plus; a zippered inner stash pocket and two inner mesh pockets really up the pocket game. The mesh pockets are large enough that one could put their skins in them, should they find themselves touring on a particularly cold day.
Both the jackets feature elasticized wrist cuffs and waist hem, which are quite comfortable and low-profile. All these little stretchy details add a technical angle to these insulators that make them better suited to athletic performance.
If you choose to look at the Betizu hoody like a hoody (because that’s what it looks like), it seems expensive, but if you look at it like the technical, stretchy fleece that it is, you might find that it’s just a step away from the typical softshell type jacket. And if you were to ask me, I’d say it was a step in the right direction.
All in all, these are both top quality jackets, and I would recommend to a friend (you, reader, are a friend).
Black Yak Niata Down Jacket
Price: $500CAN / $400US
Weight: 541g / 19.08 oz
Black Yak Betizu Hoody
Price: $250CAN / $200US
Weight: 600g / 21.1oz
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