By Rick Shandley
Just a couple days ago, the outside temperature was 15 degrees at two in the afternoon, and this Obermeyer COBRA Jacket performed great as a warm, unrestrictive, and well designed ski jacket. It’s still very cold and there’s still plenty of snow in Colorado. March and April tend to attract heavy, wet, snowfalls up in the Northern Rockies. Before writing a word, or even forming an opinion, this True Red COBRA Jacket was worn for several weeks in below freezing, high wind, and often driving snow conditions.
COBRA is a solid ski jacket. You can count on freedom of movement for your upper torso. Your arms and shoulders have complete ability to articulate, stretch, and move according to the dictates of your snow sport activity. There’s no binding, bunching, or riding up of the jacket which is a testament to how well it was designed by the folks at Obermeyer down in Aspen, CO. It is apparent that the COBRA and the other Obermeyer jackets our team has had the opportunity to evaluate, like the Kestrel and the Ketchikan jackets, are well thought out and tested for performance long before they hit the market.
Yes, it’s as fashionable a ski jacket as you’ll find on any mountain regardless of its price tag. At a MSRP of $400.00 we’d position the COBRA at a solid value for your investment. Slightly less an investment than the previous Obermeyer jackets we’ve worn, but with all of the most critical features and benefits in terms of fit, quality, warmth, water resistance and extremely wind resistant in the winter environments we live with. The COBRA is not bulky in any way. Yet, the cut of the garment provides for plenty of room for under layers to adjust for your level of activity without that sense of being cumbersome.
The interior of the collar is lined with soft, brushed material that makes things very comfortable when you have the jacket zipped up all the way. The cuffs are adjustable to fit around gloves or beneath gloves with extended forearm gauntlets. All the exterior zippers offer rubberized weld fusing to keep out extreme weather from getting at your valuables. All the zippers worked flawlessly. They didn’t snag, misalign, or hesitate to work in some very cold and windy conditions.
Although the insulated jacket hood is removable, it fastens securely to the jacket. The attachment points consist of a quick on/off zipper at the back of the neck and Velcro pockets on each side of the upper collar. The hood is cut with enough room to accommodate a helmet. In our case, we used a BERN Hard Hat helmet. But if you’re just wearing a watchman’s cap, baseball hat, or a bare pate, the hood is adjustable to fit comfortably without restricting your vision.
Pockets? Who doesn’t like lots of pockets? Two zippered upper chest pockets, one on each side provide good storage. The left hand upper chest pocket features a nice-sized , detachable, cleaning cloth, affixed to an elastic lanyard, to maintain your ski goggles or sunglasses. At the bottom of the COBRA you have two zippered hand warmer pocket lined with a fleece-like fabric called Tricot that works great to bring your digits back to room temperature.
On the interior of the COBRA, you have one zippered mesh pocket on the left, and a big mesh fabric glove pocket on the right. The interior zip pocket features a smaller cell phone or electronics pocket within, but the pocket is large enough to store valuables you’ll want to secure and know exactly where they are at all times.
We like the fact that the COBRA is good for wearing all day, day after day. When skiing, the body can heat up as quickly as it will cool down when you stop. The under arm meshed vent panels allow you to unzip partially or fully to get air moving inside the jacket. The underarm ventilation panels are easy enough to work with gloved hands and cycle open or closed as many times during the day as you require.
You also have ventilation options with the internal adjustable hem draw cord. The draw cord works well to seal out cold air and create an air pocket to trap warmth. A snow skirt at the lower back of the COBRA Jacket gives you a strong elastic band that clings to the body and prevents snow from blasting up the inside of the jacket. The same snap buttons that secure the snow skirt to the jacket are also designed to snap into ski pants to create a unified outfit.
It would be great to see an upper waist adjustable draw cord just above the top of the pockets to snug the COBRA’s coil a little tighter and trap more air when temp drops through the floor and the anaerobic activity stops. Nonetheless, we’re very happy with the available warmth the COBRA provides with such a slim profile and the capacity to keep the wind from piercing through the outer shell.
Although high-quality down insulation is hard to beat for wicked cold, we must also acknowledge some of the weaknesses of down-filled garments that the Obermeyer jackets provide a solution for. One of these solutions is the use of 3M Thinsulate, a thin, light insulating fabric that continues to provide warmth even if it gets damp. When down fill gets wet, the warmth goes with it whether the source is external moisture or internal perspiration. What we would like to see is the actual gauge/thickness of the Thinsulate membrane that is used in the COBRA, and what range of temperatures a specific gauge of Thinsulate will offer most people. Just like boots, you know how cold a pair of boots is good for by the thickness of Thinsulate used in the boot. Not a complaint, just an observation.
The outer jacket shell uses coatings that repel water but allows the material to breath. This coating, HYDROBLOCK® X, is the waterproof, breathable coating that’s 10,000mm thick. What we value highly is the rugged, abrasion resistant qualities of the outer jacket shell. Not only is the Obermeyer COBRA Jacket a barrier to wind, snow, and water, but you can have confidence in longevity and integrity of a fabric that will not easily shred if it gets snagged on something that would render a down jacket useless when all those little warm feathers fly out of a gaping hole.
Like the other Obermeyer jackets we’ve experienced, the COBRA uses Recco advanced rescue technology that consist of a reflector that is always activated, has a virtually unlimited lifespan, and requires no input from the person who owns the jacket. On the COBRA, this reflector is positioned within the fabric just below the right shoulder. The reflector is flexible and unobtrusive. RECCO is a two-part system where one part is the reflector within your COBRA. The RECCO reflector works like a beacon for rescue teams searching for a person compromised in an avalanche by bouncing back electronic signals of equipment used by S&R teams around the world. The reflector helps the ski resort or search teams to pinpoint the location of the person with great precision. It is still advisable to carry a location transmitter, but the RECCO system gives you another layer of preparation that is built into the COBRA.
In general, the Obermeyer COBRA jacket is a high-quality alpine ski jacket that demonstrates a ton of performance in a garment designed with cutting-edge materials. Not only does the COBRA offer warmth and cold weather protection, but the reflective exterior accents, the freedom of movement, and the overall design blends great features with functionality that won’t go out of style.