I’ve been using this for: 12 months
Where?: Scottish winter & Nepal
And here on Amazon.
I’ve been using this belay jacket for just over a year now, taking it out nearly every day during my time in Scotland winter climbing as well as taking it to Nepal in 2012 during my Ama Dablam expedition where I wore it a lot at basecamp and up to Camp 1 (around 5750m).
There are many jackets to choose from in the “belay jacket” category, but the main features I look for are:
- General durability, as it’s going to get abused (in Scotland anyway)
- Good pockets on the outside that I can get my hands into with gloves on
- A full sized helmet hood, which is really important for climbing
Everything else is a bonus really, if it looks good enough to wear it to the pub then great!
The Fitzroy jacket isn’t the warmest out there, but for Scottish winters, Alpine summers and some mid altitude trekking I would say it’s fine. The upside is that it is lighter than those heavier jackets and stuffs into my rucksack pretty easily.
It is also a dedicated “belay” jacket, rather than a fashion item, which means its fit and cut are designed to go over your other gear rather than underneath. It is easy and quick to get on over waterproofs when you’re on a belay somewhere and the hood is massive, going over everything (and I have a large head so it must be pretty big!)
It’s also snug enough when on that I can second in it fairly comfortably, although seeing my harness loops is pretty tricky resulting in me using a bandolier when I’m seconding.
I’ve given my jacket some pretty good abuse in Scotland, especially in the granite chimneys, and it shows no sign of wearing out at all.
Not so good bits:
There’s not much to write in this section, but I do tend to leave this jacket at home if I’m out skiing as I tend to like things fairly snug as otherwise it flaps about. In that situation I’d prefer a warmer jacket with less layers underneath. The Fitzroy jacket needs to go over the top of another jacket, otherwise it’s too loose for my liking.
Or if it’s really chucking it down with rain and I need to wear things underneath my waterproofs, then it’s slightly too big and bulky for that job.
A nice, medium insulated belay jacket very well suited to the job it’s deigned for. If your winter climbing in Scotland, or want a jacket in your pack in the alps then this is a good choice. If you want something to wear all day, or under your shell jacket, then look for something lighter and closer fitting.
When mine does wear out eventually, I’d get another. Enough said!