Review: Black Yak Calvana Hoody

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As someone who grew up in the Upper Midwest where half the year is winter, I’m not trying to spend any more time being cold. Which is why I was psyched to have the new BlackYak Calvana Hoody given the snowy forecast the day we planned to climb the 18-pitch Flyboys (5.9) near Mazama, Washington. Up on the route, I remained pleasantly warm and dry after pairing the Calvana, as a midlayer, with a wind shell. The continuous airFLOW technology, meant to keep humidity out while keeping heat in, was effective even on the last six pitches when the white flakes started flying. Not only is there an insulated, helmet-compatible hood (thank you!), but the jacket’s Cordura cuffs are tough and held tight when I slid up the sleeves to get in deep in a few cracks. Plus, the whole hoody is made up of Climashield Continuous Filament, making it more durable than a standard down. Meanwhile, the internal stuff pocket made swapping gloves on and off convenient, and kept them toasty between belays. The waist is fitted with an elastic, rubber-lined, 270° waistband, which kept the Calvana close to my body and tucked under my harness for almost the entire day—no, this isn’t the elusive miracle piece that will stay put even during reachy moves, but it did play nice during a time-consuming (read: timid) onsight of the steep Mazama classic Beta Male (5.12b). BlackYak touts the Calvana as the accumulation of 40 years of product development, and after many chilly days climbing around Washington, I’m inclined to agree. And yes, you read that right: 40 years. How come you haven’t heard of these folks? Only because you don’t live in South Korea. There, BlackYak is the dominant mountain-wear brand. If the Calvana Hoody speaks for the whole line, then I suspect they’ll soon be a staple in the States as well.