Made For Missions: The BLACKYAK Watusi Expedition Suit

Text by: Olivier Lasselle

BLACKYAK. Made For Missions: The BLACKYAK Watusi Expedition Suit

There are 14 peaks in the world that rise above 8000 m. Atop these mountains, you’re likely to face some of the deadliest conditions known to man. Temperatures dropping below -30°C are not uncommon and frostbite can occur in an instant. Strong winds have been known to knock climbers over the edge, and avalanches have buried climbers alive. Besides surviving the elements it takes grit and determination. It takes months of physical and mental preparation. It takes a team of Sherpas to map out the ascent and ensure a safe descent. It takes oxygen tanks, food, climbing equipment and a long list of gear. It takes all this and more, but it only takes one Watusi Expedition Suit.

In the Mountains Since 1973

BLACKYAK was established in 1973. From the beginning, the South Korean brand has designed its gear and apparel with the technical precision demanded of those climbers who put mind and body on the line to conquer the world’s most dangerous and breathtaking ascents. Global expansion continued attention to detail and advanced design have made BLACKYAK one of the most trusted brands in high altitude exploration. 

The Watusi Expedition Suit

The Watusi Expedition Suit is the culmination of over 40 years of testing apparel in the mountains. Every tiny detail is considered with climbers in mind, and every feature is made to take on the harshest conditions known to man. It’s a full suit of armour made specifically for those attempting to take on the treacherous icy ascents and bone-chilling colds of Himalayan goliaths like Everest, K2, and Lhotse. Here we take a closer look at some of the features that make the Watusi one of the most advanced mountaineering suits in the world.

Technology & Construction

When you’re facing ice-cold winds, rocky terrains and temperatures beyond what you’ve ever faced before, you need a suit that’s up to the task. The 2.5L BLACKYAK XD Laminate provides extreme durability, to ensure the shell doesn’t rip exposing the 750 Cuin Goose Down insulation. High Tenacity CORDURA fibres are placed to reinforce the spots that encounter the most wear and tear, mainly the seat, hips and knees. G-LOFT Synthetic Insulation is strategically placed to ensure the suit stays warm even in wet conditions. All down chambers are double stitched to ensure no air or insulation escape.

Design

From head to toe, every detail is meticulously thought out and designed to be fully functional. The expedition sizing means there’s plenty of room to move, while stretch zones are mapped for comfort. The hood is fully insulated, helmet-compatible and self-adjusting with a windshield brim and a high collar for max coverage.

The up and under ablution Access zipper goes from top to bottom, front to back which makes it easy to remove the upper half of the suit. The lower body is stitched to an inner vest meant to keep the suit in place. The vest features a zippered pocket, multiple mesh pockets and a hydration bladder pocket in the back. The front of the vest is also equipped with the Mag-Fix Sleeve Control System. This system works by using 2 magnets that connect to attachments on the sleeves meant to keep them in place so they don’t have to be wrapped around your waist where you risk damaging the suit.

 
The sleeves also feature reinforced thumb loops and glove/mitten fixing points to ensure high winds don’t carry them away. The synthetic insulated lower leg is double boot compatible and has a gripper band to hold the leg in place while keeping the cold from getting through. It can be worn on the outside or compressed and worn inside the boot for greater warmth. The suit also features plenty of pockets, including 4 inner mesh pockets and two large mesh pockets on the chest to ensure ease of access to your climbing essentials.

The Future of Exploration

BLACKYAK have quickly established themselves as innovators in the outerwear industry. Their state-of-the-art designs, made in collaboration with mountaineers around the globe, continue to push the boundaries of outdoor technical apparel. In their own words, the Watusi Expedition Suit is “the most technically engineered and thermally efficient product for use in extreme, high altitude expeditions.” We couldn’t agree more.*

(Full disclosure: we haven’t had a chance to summit Everest yet, but the Watusi Expedition Suit would be the first item on our list)

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