Synthetic belay jackets

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    J D


    FYI –

    Trying to figure out which synthetic belay jacket is the best year-round piece for multi-pitch trad, ice, alpine, big wall, etc.

    For light weight but exceptionally warm, it seems Primaloft is where it’s at..

    This seems like the short-list. Any input?

    1). Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket

    This jacket seems pretty ideal, although a bit heavy (24 oz) AND spendy ($185). I like the detachable hood. All the reviews were really positive. It seems this is THE synthetic jacket for staying warm.

    2). Wild Things EP Jacket

    Currently 20% off (makes it approx $155) and only weighs 18 oz. However, it might be a bit thin/cold during winter pursuits.

    According to Wild Things, this jacket uses half the primaloft of their Primaloft jacket/sweater (see below), but offers approx. the same warmth due to material/jacket design, wind proofing, etc. This jacket is also less likely to rip (as compared to the WT Primaloft jacket/sweater).

    I think this might be the right “light” choice for an alpine layering system; maybe with a schoeller jacket, plus an alpine shell worn under (or worn over). Perhaps would be ideal for most conditions, except winter backcountry…

    3). Wild Things Primaloft jacket/sweater

    Only 15 ounces. Currently on sale for $80. Two layers of 1.8 primaloft insulation (totaling 3.6, as compared to 1 layer of 1.8 primaloft on the EP Jacket).

    It seems this jacket is more of a middle layer for winter, or thermal layer for multi-pitch traditional climbing.

    NOTE: Wild Things mentioned they are coming out with a 5 oz. primaloft jacket that might be best of both worlds (like a mixtuire of EP and Primaloft jacket features).

    4). Montbell Ultra Light Therma Wrap Jacket

    Super light at 9 oz. and only $129. However, no hood and perhaps a bit thin/cold during winter pursuits. It seems this jacket is more of a middle layer for winter, or thermal layer for multi-pitch traditional climbing. Does not utilize Primaloft.

    5). GoLite Belay Parka

    At 21 oz., it is a bit lighter than the Integral Designs Dolomotti or Patagonia Puffball jacket; however at $200, it is a little bit spendier. Awesome for winter. Too warm or cumbersome for anything else? Uses Polarguard, not Primaloft.

    6). Patagonia Puffball Jacket

    $170 and 24 oz. I compare everything within this category to the Puffball jacket, seeing how I’ve already burned through two of these synthetic jackets. I use it for everything. However, over time the jacket seemed to get colder, and occasionally the zipper failed.

    7.) EMS Belay Jacket

    On sale for $80; comparable to thicker belay jackets; currently only comes in weird pinkish-red color.

    Patrick Baker


    Patagonia Micro Puff
    BackpackingLight Cocoon

    Colin Thomas


    I would say a mid weight jacket is what you would most likely need. The EMS is a steal at that price and has me thinking about it, the ID Dolomitti always gets great reviews but there are a few things that turn me off of it like the Spandura cuffs and Taslan reinforcements. If they made the jacket with say Pertex Quantum or Endurance shell without the reinforcements you could shave like 3-4 ounces off and have the ultimate cold weather parka.

    For lightweight with a hood and with a proper layering system you might get buy with one of these. (the hooded version)

    BMW Hooded Cocoon (might be made in the near future, I sure hope so) it does not help you now though

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    For summer mountaineering in the mild ranges like Sierras or Colorado Rockies, a light-mid-weight hooded jacket should be fine, something like a Patagonia Micro-Puff hooded Jacket or Wild Things EP Jacket. Neither of these work real well over a hood, however, so there is some argument regarding whether to use a hooded jacket in the summer anyways. However, after having been caught out overnight, I find that a hood is real nice, and stows under a helmet fine if you still need to wear your helmet.

    For higher mountains or the off-seasons, you need to move to a more insulative parka, preferable with a hood that goes over a helmet.

    I love the GoLite Belay Parka – it’s warmth:weight ratio is really hard to beat; however, it has a small hood in that it does not go over a helmet and there’s no inside mesh pockets to stow your climbing gloves while belaying (a nice feature).

    I’ve climbed a lot with an ID Dolomitti, which has a terrific hood and is pretty warm as well.

    But my favorite still remains a Patagonia DAS Parka. Everything about this is dialed in, pockets, inside pockets, oversized cut, long hem, hood, two way zip, good insulation, very breathable fabric. Only downside is that it’s bulkier than the Dolomitti, so if that is important to you, you are better off considering Primaloft over Polarguard.

    I’m on my second DAS in as many years, and my current one has seen about 50 days of winter mountaineering, a few overnight bivies without a sleeping bag and dozens of long, cold, stormy belays. For me, the DAS has been my best insurance for surviving the night without a sleeping bag. It’s very light for what it does too – my size M is 25 oz.

    Jerold Swan


    The Wild Things EP Jacket is a bit thin for winter weather, but it’s great for 3-season use. It’s also almost waterproof. On my kitchen scale, mine only weighs 15 ounces in size medium.

    I picked up a brand new Wild Things Belay jacket on Ebay last spring for half price, but I’ve only worn it a couple of times thus far. Very warm, but a bit heavy.

    Peter Horan
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southwest

    Let me put in a good word for Wild Things. Their gear is usualy lightweight but not “ultra” lightweight. The giveback is that their gear is usually bulletproof. I have several pieces of their stuff and have never been disappointed.

    canyon steinzig
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nor Cal

    it depends on the weather
    for cold and wet I have an old version of the MEC magma, fixed hood, dryloft, and primaloft.
    Cold and maybe wet I have a golite six month night, got if for 50 bucks and it’s as warm as a DAS.
    Less cold, summer alpine, I have a golite coal, paid 29 for it.

    I have a dolomiti, dont think its much warmer than the coal really, I do like it however. alpine jacket
    just bought a micropuff jacket which should replace all the lighter ones, but not the six month night nor MEC.
    I have never used wildthings, it always seemed a bit steep to me compared to golite for what I was getting.

    Jeroen Wesselman


    Locale: Europe

    I don’t think there is ‘one’ jacket which can do it all. My top 3 is;

    Patagonia Micro Puff P/O for spring/fall backpacking.
    GoLite Coal for three season backpacking/climbing (still available for under $50 on the internet, great deal)
    Patagonia DAS Parka for everything winter.

    I have a Wild Things Primaloft sweater which is nice to but no nearly as efficient as the GoLite Coal. I never experienced a big difference in warmth between Primaloft and Polarguard so I would not limit my search on primaloft.

    I think the new OR Zero Jacket might be a good choice.

    canyon steinzig
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nor Cal

    I just got a micro-puff jacket, man it’s really nice. I think it’s as warm as my Dolomiti, is that possible? For sure as warm as the Coal. Not close to a Six Month Night or my MEC dryloft belay parka, but its about half the weight. I think the fit is a bit strange, Kind of baggy in the body, but it will serve as a light belay jacket as well as being light enough for three seasons. I guess if I put a vest under it I’m going to be pretty warm, and there is enough room .

    Gerry Chike


    I just picked up an EMS Belay Jacket (sort of an reddish/orange), Woman’s XL for $59.95 (no sales tax) from the EMS store in North Conway, NH. I typically wear a large, but this jacket seemed to fit well – just a bit tight in the shoulders, but for non-active wear PLUS the price and technology (Quantem Pertex + Primaloft) it’s a steal. After putting a hole in it my first day out w/ it ice climbing, I’m glad I didn’t spend $200+ for a high-end jacket.


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