I have to admit; when it comes to outdoor gear I am a Patagonia slut. For me the fit and fabrics used far outweigh most other brands with only Arcteryx coming close for quality however, the Arcteryx fit isn’t suited to my shape – slim/athletic and short (5’7).
Ive been using the Knifeblade Pullover for two seasons now, joining the hordes of people wearing bright clothes on the hill, mine came through the door in bright orange – who wants to wear black anyway?! I’m that obsessed with colours I won’t actually buy black items anymore – sad yes, but let’s face it pictures look all that more appealing when everyone is in colour – enforced by the stars!?
People swear by different clothing systems but I would say I join the majority by favouring a layering system that incorporates an ‘action suit’ and heavier belay layer over the top. Currently I am using the following layers up top:
Belay jackets depend on how long I expect to be stood about and quite simply how cold I expect it to be. Further reviews of the other the other items above will follow but for now lets focus on the Knifeblade……
My size small topped the scales at 470g, it’s made from very wind and water resistant Polortec Power Shield Pro fabric, has a laminated peak, two chest pockets and comes with a sizeable hood to block out the elements. I bought the jacket primarily for Scottish winter climbing and knowing I was going to use the clothing system above.
Being the lightweight freak that I am 470g was perfect, meaning it would stand up to a bit of abuse whilst keeping the weight to a minimum. Patagonia have now stopped making the pullover and replaced with the Jacket which looks to be slightly heavier but with more usable features such as bigger pockets. I prefer the pullover style as I only really use the jacket for climbing and with a harness on I don’t need a zip that goes all the way down.
The Polortec Pro Shield isn’t insulated but blocks wind and snow with brilliant efficiency. Like many Euro jackets the hood isn’t the type you can block out everything the Scottish winter throws at you, instead it sits slightly back over a helmet which is a little annoying when you’re being battered by the elements – using a low volume helmet helps allot.
Being a minimalist I wouldn’t have bothered with the pockets, they are too small for a full map although a cut down version of your chosen destination fits nicely as does a compass, camera or energy bar/gel. Don’t expect to get your mitts or winter gloves in here either. You can tell the Knifeblade has been designed for climbing by the cut. If you are like me and detest baggy clothing then the Slim fit will put a big smile on your face, loose enough in crucial areas such as the arm for reaching but slim around the back and torso to avoid hiding your harness and gear at the wrong moment.
Light, fitted and superb fabric. The Knifeblade is a perfect for winter climbing, it blocks the wind and sheds snow without any sign of weather weakness. The hood is slightly too small to fit over some helmets and if you like stowing tons of kit in pockets then look at the new Jacket instead.