The Trew Bellows jacket is made for mountain professionals and hard riders. It is designed to handle backcountry riding, and to have plenty of pocket room to store everything you need for a day of shredding. I have ridden in the Bellows in various conditions, from -15 to +15°C, from sunshine to blizzard, and backcountry to park. In this Trew Bellows review, I will look at what makes it a great freeride snowboarding jacket, and how those attributes make it a good choice for any skier or snowboarder.
Bellows is an apt name for this jacket. Of course ‘bellows’ has a few meanings, my neighbour bellows at his kids, you use bellows to stoke a fire, and you can bellow with laughter. But in the case of the Trew Bellows freeride snowboarding jacket it refers to how the pockets bellow out to accommodate far more than the average pocket.
Trew Bellows review: Keeping you warm and dry
Let’s start with the two cornerstones of winter sport clothing, what does the TREW Bellows do to keep you warm and dry?
It is a shell jacket, meaning there is no insulation, but with correct layering for the conditions it will keep you warm. In fact I found it is surprisingly warm, and that a thermal base layer was all I needed down to around 0°c. I put a sports t-shirt over the top down to -5°c, and swapped the T for a fleece when it got colder.
Of course most days you experience a range of temperatures, so the Bellows comes with elbow to hip dual zip vents. This means if you over cook the layering you can let as much, or little, air in as you wish to ensure you don’t roast.
The Trew Bellows jacket uses a 3 layer private reserve fabric to create a lightweight, durable but flexible, freeride snowboarding jacket. The outer ‘face’ layer is a 140 denier nylon with abrasion resistant water repellent finish. It is supple to touch but sheds water better than a ducks back.
The midlayer ‘membrane’ is made from Toray® DERMIZAX® EV, it is where the magic happens. It is 100% windproof, meaning that unless you open the vents, you won’t feel any drafts at speed and it will keep out a howling (or should I say bellowing?) wind.
The membrane is rated as 20k/20k waterproof and breathability. Which on the waterproof scale means it can handle a short immersion, so snow and rain are not getting through. The 20k breathability is achieved through a vapour permeable hydrophilic structure, it expands to increase breathability the warmer you get, sucking away all that lovely sweat that could make you damp and cold.
The interior ‘backer’ layer, is a 20 denier nylon tricot knit which is smooth and soft to touch. It is breathable and has fantastic wicking abilities to pull moisture away from your body. Having just returned from some very sweaty spring snowboarding, this wicking and overall breathability was severely put to the test. I won’t say I came out the other side smelling of roses, but my top half came away a lot dryer than my bottom half which was encased in some 10k breathability trousers.
To ensure no water comes through all seams are thermally bonded and lined. All openings use YKK Aquaguard® zippers, and the main zip also comes with a storm flap. To date I have not got wet in the Bellows, except when I fell in powder with the vents wide open, but we can put that down to user error.
Trew Bellows review: The bellowing pockets
One of the things that attracted me to the TREW Bellows was the cavernous pockets. I am happy to wear a backpack to hold avalanche gear when heading off backcountry, but when sticking to the piste or between piste off piste, I like to put everything I need in my pockets. I dislike overfilled pockets, that impede your movements, almost as much as not being able to carry something essential.
If you are a pocket lover then the Bellows will turn you on. With two large zippered handwarmer pockets, internal mesh pockets on both sides, wrist/lift pass pocket, and stormflap accessed zip secure large Napoleon pocket with internal phone holder. But the piste [sic] de resistance is the bellowing chest pockets on each side from which the Bellows gets its name.
In the above picture the pockets of the Trew Bellows are holding phone, wallet, suncream, board lock, board multi tool, piste map, pack of tissues, camera (OK camera is taking the picture), bottle of water, and a snack. In other jackets I would not have been able to do up my bindings with that much in the pockets, but I feel the Bellows could have held more. It also handled it well without sagging or looking like I had eaten all the pies.
Trew Bellows review: Comfort, fit and looks
The bellows is on the slightly baggier side of snow sport clothing but a long way from being full on skater. I am fairly short but broad in the shoulder and chest, for me the medium is a perfect fit.
The Trew team have developed an articulated fit so different parts if the jacket move with you as you attack the mountain. I noticed that this meant I never felt the jacket restricting my movements, which is important for a freeride snowboarding jacket or any boarding jacket really.
The Bellows comes equipped with a helmet compatible hood, with collar cord control, and a very soft microsuede chin guard. I found the hood and collar adjusted well and kept my neck nice and warm with no need for a snood or face mask in blizzard conditions. The only downside was, if not careful, all the cord can get pulled out one side meaning it flicks in your face at speed.
The Bellows also comes with an ergonomic powder skirt that has a range of poppers and Velcro, which when I remembered to do up stayed done up. There are also 3 anchor points that attach to your trousers, I found they were also useful for hanging your gloves from when enjoying a dance during alfresco apres!
I am the wrong side of 35 to be worrying about what is fashionable, but I still want to look good, and I feel the Bellows looks good. In emerald and gold (bluey green and dark yellow to me and you) it’s bright enough to be noticed, but not garish, and as my wife pointed out it goes with my trousers. It also comes in light grey or black, which both look good, or green, brown and black which to be I am not that keen on.
Trew Bellows review: True conclusions
The TREW Bellows is a very well made jacket that uses high quality materials. It’s perfect as a freeride snowboarding jacket but in reality it would be great for any skier or snowboarder.
The bellowing pockets are a great feature that give this jacket it’s name, but are not the only meaning of ‘bellows’ that I have fulfilled when wearing it. I have bellowed with laughter and joy, bellowed instructions at boarding buddies and at someone who cut me up, but most importantly, wearing the Bellows left me feeling stoked.