Alex Lowe famously said “the best climber is the one having the most fun”. Over the years I have come to agree with this statement, but would – were I to have known Alex personally – have suggested one small and slightly less catchy amendment: “the warmest climber is the one having the most fun (probably because they’re climbing the best)”. Maybe I’ve ruined the sentiments of the original somewhat, but there is something to it - being cold is miserable…
I’ve always opted for having the largest jacket available, as a result I was somewhat unsure as to exactly what to expect from the Filoment (or quite how to use it). Micro-baffle down jackets seem to have become popular in recent years and, in all honesty, I was a little cynical about their actual purpose/use - not to mention their performance outside of looking outdoorsy down the pub.
The Filoment is probably best described – and perhaps used - as a super-warm, super-light, windproof fleece. As such it is actually quite a versatile piece and definitely became my go-to jacket to throw on and keep on between routes, attempts on boulder problems and walks down to the shops to buy milk. It’s an easy jacket to wear insofar as it’s light, fitted and snug; furthermore, it packs a lot of warmth in for its small size.
As with all Alpkit pieces, it’s been lovingly designed and sourced to bring a quality piece to the masses at a very reasonable price - £99. The jacket features 131g (sz. Large) 650+ fill (90/10) duck down that has been tested and verified by the International Down and Feather Beaurau. Whilst this isn’t necessarily the highest quality down available, it doesn’t have to be – it is perfectly matched for its intended use and helps keep the jacket to an affordable price. Due to the jacket’s fitted nature it keeps the heat close to your body, and this is the key difference between the Filoment and a larger duvet such as Alpkit’s Filo which is primarily designed to stop the heat from getting out. It was at this moment that the jacket’s purpose became apparent: they’re not just fashion pieces after all…
Whilst the micro baffles look good, functionally I wasn’t entirely convinced by their benefits: movement around the elbows was great and the lift from the waist was minimal, but I would attribute this more to the design/cut than I would the size of the baffles. Features such as the lyrcra cuffs around the wrists + base of the jacket were simple and effective, no need to fasten up any velcro – this is very much a pull-on and go piece. In terms of fit the jacket has quite a ‘snug’ feel, meaning that the large tested felt a little on the smaller side of expectation. Were I to have ordered the jacket I would probably have gone for a medium, but in retrospect that would probably have been too small – something worth bearing in mind whilst ordering online.
I am always a little paranoid about wear and tear with down jackets, all it takes is a small hole and you’re lovely warm jacket is…well…less lovely and less warm… That said, I decided to test this jacket hard by using it on both gritstone routes/boulder problems – this is enough to test the abrasion resistance of even the roughest tweed. The result: it’s held up well. Several months down the line there is no sign of abrasion shy of a few stains from blood, sweat and tears (maybe some coffee too). Washing it was less of a problem than with larger duvets simply because drying was so much quicker/easier.
The only negatives I could think of were that an opportunity was lost to make the chest pocket reversible, creating a stuff-sac for the jacket. I use these ‘micro-belay’ jackets on multi-pitch trad routes all the time and this feature would have been a real benefit, using one of the Airlok Stuffsacks is suggested by Alpkit but I question whether that would have been necessary with a few design modifications.
Its distinctive look comes from its narrow down filled baffles, it looks good, it feels good but Filoment isn’t designed to be a catwalk item. The baffles become narrower around the elbow and help retain down in this area of articulation. As you lift your arms above your head to place a nut its not going to expose your belly button! It is an active, functional cut made to extend beyond your waist, over your hips with a long back length.
Filoment is not meant to be a replacement for your trusty Filo in cold weather, this class of jacket is much lighter and more fitted. Think of it more like a lightweight, windproof fleece, something you can throw on over a base layer or a t-shirt. The lightweight 20 denier polyester is down-proof and provides protection from the wind. It also has a light DWR coating helping to prevent dirt and moisture absorption.
Soft and quiet to the touch, it is a real alternative to the traditional fleece jacket. Its low bulk packs down much smaller than a fleece, Filoment will easily stow away into a 1 litre Airlok dry bag, offering protection for lightweight adventure athletes on a mission.
The external breast pocket is big enough to stash your phone, gps or wallet in without having to undo your main zip and lose all that precious warm air! A neoprene hem and a snug collar also help trap air when you are on the move.
A super-light, super-warm alternative to a fleece, perfect for putting on between routes/boulder problems and ideal as a multi-pitch belay jacket on trad climbs in Spring/Autumn. Original skepticism aside it does also make you look fantastically outdoorsy down the pub too…
About the Author:
Rob Greenwood is the Advertising Manager at UKClimbing.com.
He's a passionate climber, hot yoga addict and eater of vegetarian food. He has done more UK trad routes than he's had roast dinners (and that's got nothing to do with the vegetarianism).
Aside from UK trad, he's dabbled with alpine climbing, Scottish winter, Himalayan climbing and more recently Peak limestone sport climbing.
He keeps an occasional blog about his adventures here: Rob Greenwood Climbing