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Versatile Belay Jacket for Texas Winter Climbing

Original Post
Patrick Macdonald · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 0

Hi Climbers! 

Wanting to take advantage of the sales. I am trying to find a solid belay jacket for Texas winter mostly. Is there a jacket that is durable enough to be climbed in on granite? Im still fairly new to the sport and still learning. I have the Marmot 1/2 Zip Preon that I wear with the Kuhl Firefly and that worked alright if I was moving. It got pretty chilly though if it was windy or if I was standing still ( i am a baby when its close to 30). Wondering if I should just buy a soft shell and continue layering or look into a synth insulated jacket. Plan on going to Colorado and Squeamish and would like a Jacket that could be used in colder weather as well but equally useful in 30s. I dont know if the Patagonia stretch nano storm is overkill? I liked the features except it lacked a 2 way zipper pull. heard that was fairly important, wondering if yall have any input on what features I should consider vital and which arent too important? 

thanks all! 

P.s. Sorry for the grammar and rambling (first post) 

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,476

This here is what you wanna wear in Texas to blend in. And get rid of that out of state license plate, son. The blue jeans will come in handy when you wanna go skiing in Taos.

Patrick Macdonald · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 0

HAHA Born and Raised in Texas....

Didn’t know any better · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 0

Since you are in Texas, I suggest continue layering. The amount of time with really cold weather is limited and an expensive jacket will sit in the closet 95% of the time.

I suggest a outer layer jacket/shell that is water proof/resistant, breathable, and wind proof/stopper.  IMO the key is stopping the wind and making sure that the sweat can evaporate through the layers. If the garment does not breath, you will get clammy and then freeze at the belay.

My wife who hates cold, layers and then puts a Patagonia Houdini jacket at belays.  She then takes the jacket off to climb. She has a packing cube that is clipped to the harness. The cube holds the jacket and snacks.

I use an acteryx shell in the same manner, but it has a stow pocket that I can pack the jacket into itself and then clip on harness.

We picked them both up on sale under $100. One of the benefits of living in Texas is you can find winter shells for cheap in the summer.

Also, I have never really used the 2 way zipper pull on a jacket. I understand why it would be used, just never have needed it. For myself that would be way down on the list of features on a jacket.


mattm · · TX · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,395

Pretty much by definition a belay jacket is NOT something you'll climb in.  Standing around static (or hanging around) will require a much different piece than actively climbing.  Unless you're an alpine glutton, you're not likely to be climbing when it's cold AND wet so skip the synthetics as they don't last as long.  Really the goal is how cheap can you get a decent mid-weight down puffy?  Do you want a hood?  Search like mad and buy the best value.  These really are mostly a commodity item right now so what ever you can find at 50% off will probably be a ok for standing around.  If you can, find one with double zipper (often in a "parka" vs a jacket) as these tend to cover your hind end and don't interfere with belay devices as much.  Actively climbing (say, multi in Squamish) I HATE doing anything in a puffy.  Just awkward and they simply will get trashed.  Here, I think good ole fleece and/or a softshell ala Scholler is the better better.  You can thrash in an R1 a LOT and then toss on a light jacket at the belay to cut wind (here's where a different weight jacket comes into play.  Belay Parkas are for the ground or Alpine.  A micro down puff is better when tossing it on over a fleece etc.  It cuts the wind and adds some warmth but isn't huge and can be packed away while climbing.

Example of Belay Jacket Marmot Ama Dablam   or even better priced Rab Axion Jacket

For the Toss on at a belay over fleece - EB MicroTherm Hoody or perhaps BD Forge Down Hoody 

Again, there are a metic TON of these things out there so just cruising around to find the best deal is your best bet.  

jg fox · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 5

Ain't a belay jacket if you have to wear it climbing because you got too cold belaying wearing it.

AlpineIce · · Upstate, NY · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 255

You should specify what you're trying to climb in Colorado & Squamish - Rock, ice or mixed?  From your post, it sounds like you're on rock, right?  What season(s) will you be visiting Colorado & Canada? That obviously matters as seasons dictate the amount of insulation you'll need to keep warm.

The Nano Storm Jacket is not a true belay jacket.  Personally, I wouldn't consider it a belay jacket at all.  You want something that's packable & warm with a two-way zipper, helmet-compatible hood and thermally efficient for static activity = belays.  Breathable insulation is awesome, but it's meant to be worn in true winter environments while actively climbing, not for belay duty.  They just don't (nor are they designed to) trap enough heat and resist enough wind to keep you warm during exposure and lack of movement. 

You'll get half synthetic recommendations and half for down.  Do a little research and make an educated decision, considering your climbing environments, on what insulation type will work best for you.  In my experience, down is much warmer and packable than any synthetic I've ever used.  Synthetic on the other hand, will insulate you whether or not it gets wet or traps perspiration.

A quality down belay jacket *should* last you a long time, whereas modern synthetics have a reputation of breaking down & becoming less lofty & warm with moderate use and compression.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Texas winter?  I believe that’s called a t-shirt.

Matt Sutinen · · Milwaukee, WI · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

Granted I'm from WI so cold is the normal, but at around 25-30 I was plenty warm with a cap3 baselayer, my nano air light hoodie, and a windstopper softshell at belays.  Basically once the wind was off of me I was good to go ice climbing in CO.  But I brought my hyperpuff along just in case, but I only wore it for maybe 15 mins in the morning on one of the days.  Otherwise it sat in my pack.

Also do you plan on ice climbing or what?  Standing around in crampons on ice for a period of time can really take the heat out of you so I could see some wanting some insulation there, especially if you're not used to the cold.

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,476
Patrick Macdonald wrote:

HAHA Born and Raised in Texas....

Dag nabbit! I can't see nuthin' through these interwebs. I'm more or less a native Texan as well, though I spent two months from birth in that Cajun state.

Don't worry about spending money on special clothing for belaying. Just make sure you get a nice soft shell jacket for windy days and some soft shell pants. You might be able to tolerate some colder temps at Enchanted Rock, but I used to just stay home those marginal days. Cold in Texas just bites a lot more into your bones when it has humidity added to it. Either a cheap synthetic jacket or a down one. Your choice. Of course you can pack down easier as it will compress. If you go for a thicker puffy coat, that will serve you well when you foolishly decide to get into ice climbing.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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