Monday, 20 October 2014

Review: Mountain Equipment Fitzroy Jacket

- Product provided for the purpose of review -

Manufacturer's description: "Light, durable and almost unaffected by wind, rain and snow, this is the perfect piece of modern all weather insulation."

First impressions:

Plenty of synthetic insulation, a great build quality and a brand with a superb reputation; I couldn't wait to get this jacket out in the rain and cold to see what it had to offer.

A good fit, plenty of fabric over the bum so the water can fall to the ground. Unfortunately the arms are a little short, my hardshell is Rab and I'm used to having plenty of sleeve so reaching above and around doesn't cause the cuff to move up my forearm - with the Fitzroy, Mountain Equipment haven't added enough sleeve which is a big shame. Even when wearing gloves the sleeve rides up enough to expose my arm and this allows the rain in, not good! 

 Large cuff tabs allow you to get a tight fit around your wrist even when wearing gloves, a feature which is easy to not think about but something which can really let a jacket down. If anything, there's too much velcro on the wrist, it goes right round the cuff, a little unnecessary but not a major issue.
The Fitzroy has got some great zip action. The main zip is a simple 2 way YKK zip but features an insulated baffle to stop heat loss through the zip, the benefits of having a 2 way zip on the front are great - a quick way of losing some heat if it's getting a bit sweaty on the trail or if you're wearing the Fitzroy over a harness. 

Two handwarmer pockets provide some serious comfort for hands, both lined with a microfleece material they are designed to be accessible with or without a harness on but I wasn't convinced, as a harness rides slightly above the hips and belly button it comes straight across these pockets. I really like the depth these pockets provide, they allow a whole hand to burrow into them and get some warmth out of the insulation within the jacket. 

A napoleon pocket provides some good storage, it lacks the microfleece material the handwarmer pockets are lined with but features a very smooth, soft fabric which is still comfortable to touch. I really like how big the pocket is, I can fit my OS Extreme map, and compass in with ease, a very well designed feature of the jacket. The picture is the pocket with compass and map within, not much strain on the outer fabric but you can feel it in the left handwarmer pocket.
A helmet compatible hood must have some good mechanisms in place for when you're not wearing a helmet, unfortunately I found the hood on the Fitzroy a bit frustrating. Because the hood is insulated it tends to ride up and come off your head, when walking into the wind this becomes a real annoyance. A big shame as insulation around one's head is rather lovely but not worth the loss of wind and rain protection a well fitting hood provides. I tried tightening the hood to a level where it wouldn't come off but found it painfully tight. The wire peak of the hood performed well and wasn't too stiff, I liked having a large overhang of hood when the rain was coming straight down. A photo of complete wind and rain protection, unfortunately I couldn't see a thing!
Overall the jacket features plenty of soft and gentle materials to keep you comfortable and warm. A super soft nose protector looks after the snout in cold winds, the handwarmer pockets are brilliant, the napoleon offers storage space and the zips feel secure and are all the right size for where they're positioned. The outer fabric looks good and the construction is great. Plenty of M.E logos and the bright fabric let everyone know you're wearing a great jacket. A friend of mine said it was the sort of jacket he could see Ironman wearing!

Getting out and about with the Fitzroy:

Some really heavy wind and rain has hit Devon and the UK over the past few weeks and it's provided the perfect conditions for getting Fitzroy into some yucky weather.

Drilite Loft II is the outer fabric for this jacket and it's seriously windproof with M.E claiming it's highly water resistant. I found both of these to be true to word and I wandered around in the stormy weather with a smug grin on my face, no water got through to me and the wind was definitely kept at bay. This fabric is also in the hood and around the bottom hem of the jacket, giving an extra bit of defense against the wet. One of the problems I faced was entering people's homes and shops after rainfall, the water beaded very well but didn't seem to go anywhere resulting in a small downpour whenever the jacket was taken off or shaken about.

To round it up, all the features came together really well when jacket was put to the test. Warm hand pockets provided sanctuary from the wind, the hood worked well when the wind wasn't head on and the jacket kept me warm and toasty. I felt like I was in my own little world with the Fitzroy on which is exactly what this sort of jacket should do, very impressive, just a shame about the length of the arms!

Thanks for checking out my review of the M.E Fitzroy Jacket, I hope you enjoyed it, any question then please ask away.

- Thanks to for providing the jacket for the purpose of review! :) -

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