Armada Emmons 3L Bib and Grands 3L Jacket Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

Armada Grands 3L Jacket & Emmons 3L Bibs Review

Working outerwear reviews into this mix this season has been a lot of fun from a testing perspective. Testing clothing feels a lot different than testing skis, and has given me new found perspective and appreciation of all the different options on the market. This time around, we’re focusing on Armada, particularly the Grands Jacket and Emmons Bib Pants. Before we get into the details, there’s one major point I want to highlight in this kit: value. We’ll dig deeper into fabric and features, but this gear features 15k waterproofing and breathability in a 3L fabric. At full price, you’re spending $399 on the jacket and $279 on the pants. While those aren’t exactly cheap prices (nor should they be), from other brands, you could easily spend the near $700 total on literally just your jacket. Actually, you could spend more than that on just your jacket, so there’s certainly something to be said about the affordability and performance of this gear.

As has already become tradition, we’ll break this down into three sections: fit, features, and fabric. Fit is just about exactly what I expected from a brand like Armada. I’m 5’10 and hover around 160 lbs. I’ve been wearing the large in both the jacket and pants, which is consistently my size of choice in outerwear these days. Armada does, however, fit a little bit bigger than Strafe, Flylow, Orage, and other brands I have recent experience with. It gives it more of a freeride/park feel and look, which certainly doesn’t bother me, but definitely something to consider if you don’t want the baggy, oversized look. I would say the only thing about the fit that feels off to me is the sleeves. I enjoy the size of the jacket and the bagginess of the pants, but the sleeves are big. It just feels a bit awkward sometimes, or a little bit clumsy/clunky. If I was 6 feet tall, or had a bigger upper body build, I don’t think I would even notice it, and please don’t take this as a major complaint, but it is something I’ve noticed.

There are also some cool utilitarian, military styling to its look, which maybe falls more into features, but I think it does affect the fit. Big pockets on the front of the jacket add to the boxy style fit. I think the biggest benefit to the way this outwear fits is it should work well for a huge variety of body shapes. Sometimes outerwear feels completely pigeon-holed to skinny, athletic builds, but Armada is certainly intending this stuff to be worn by a huge variety of skiers, and I really love that mindset. Skiers come in all shapes and sizes, and shouldn’t be limited to what outerwear they can choose, or at least should have just as many options as anyone else. Last thing I’ll say about fit is the hood and collar closure of the jacket can be a little tight if you have a big head like me and have the hood up. I have to wear an XL helmet, which really fills out the hood, creating a bit of a tight fit around my chin and mouth area. More of a me problem than something that’s going to pop up across the board, but I suppose another thing to consider if you’ve got a big head. So, overall, I think it’s a good fit and I think it’s just what this stuff should be. I would consider sizing down compared to other brands if you prefer a smaller, tighter fit, but if you like the park/freeride style, stick with your normal size.

Armada Grands 3L Jacket and Emmons Bib Pants Outerwear Review: Lifestyle Image 1 Armada Grands 3L Jacket and Emmons Bib Pants Outerwear Review: Lifestyle Image 4

Moving on to features, for the price, this stuff is very feature-rich. First, all the seams are taped and sealed. We also get YKK waterproof or water repellent zippers in different areas of the jacket. The jacket features a plethora of pockets, both interior and exterior. Inside the jacket you’ve got 2 secure zippered pockets along with a stretchy mesh pocket. I wish the mesh pocket was just a touch bigger to accommodate for mittens and skins and stuff like that, but it’s still very useful. On the front of the jacket, you get all those big pockets I referenced before. This is awesome as it really does give you a spot for just about anything you can think or bringing to the mountain. The jacket is finished with features like Lycra wrist gaiters, microfleece chin area, pit zip vents, a 4-way stretch powder skirt, and more goodies.

The pants don’t feel as packed with features as the jacket, but they definitely have all the necessary stuff. I actually really like the more traditional pocket placement on the front of the pants. Sometimes pants really throw me off with their unique pocket placement. Like, we spend our lives reaching into normal pants pockets, so having normal pants pockets on the Emmons bibs just makes them feel more intuitive. It feels weird talking about the intuitiveness of pants, but it’s true. Again we have 100% sealed seams throughout, we get inner leg vents, Cordura cuff reinforcements, adjustable suspenders, boot gussets, and those same high quality YKK zippers. Probably my favorite feature on the pants is the zippered and snapping front pocket. It’s the perfect spot for a phone. Warm, well-protected, and you won’t leave it open by accident with the multiple closures. Even if you did, the buttoned flap and the fact that your jacket it closed around it would almost definitely keep your belongings in place.

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Lastly, let’s talk fabric. Armada uses a Recycled Brushed Canvas Ripstop fabric, which feels incredibly durable. In fact, it seems like the one trait that Armada is highlighting above anything else with this gear. If you’re the type of skier that’s super hard on gear through park skiing, trees, backcountry use with a lot of gear, mountaineering equipment, or anything else that puts a lot of wear and tear on fabric, this gear is awesome. I feel like you could saw at it with a chefs knife and it wouldn’t even rip or cut. Probably don’t try to do that with your new gear, but it really goes feel incredibly durable. Rocks, tree branches, rails, ski edges, backpack straps… all no match for the durability of the Grands jacket and Emmons bib.

Finally, I feel pulled back to the value of this gear. A 3 layer fabric with 15k/15k waterproofing and breathability is a high end fabric no matter how you look at it. The fact that it’s considerably more affordable than most brands that hit those figures is hands-down an impressive accomplishment from a manufacturing perspective. Armada’s customers are traditionally a little younger than most brands in the ski industry. Younger folks tend to have less disposable income, so it’s nice that Armada’s keeping the price down on this stuff. The only thing I would point out about the fabric is that it’s relatively rigid. Don’t expect any stretch properties to either the jacket or pants, which I suppose is supported by the idea that the fit runs a little big. I don’t exactly feel restricted, especially not when skiing, but climbing in and out of a truck bed or something like that, I do notice it. If you went with a more form-fitting size and you were doing some really demanding, technical mountaineering ascents, it might get in the way, but I think that’s a really small potential issue considering how good this stuff is at what it’s designed to do. It’s not the lightest, nor the most technical, so most mountaineers will be choosing much different gear, more like Bob’s last Black Crows review. So, any struggles from a movement perspective in the backcountry feels like we’re really nit-picking. But, this is a review after all, so might as well pick some nits.

Overall, I’ve been impressed by the Armada Grands and Emmons gear. Its value and affordability is undeniable, and I do think the highlighting characteristic of this gear. It won’t break the bank and you get technical fabric and a ton of features. If you’re looking for a park-inspired fit, but you have more specific demands than your cotton sweatshirt and Harlaut pants can provide (sorry Henrik, we love you), you should take a long look at Armada’s offerings.

Written by Jeff Neagle on 01/25/23

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