This is a new season update on the Keela Belay Advance jacket.
A belay jacket is aimed at climbers who spend time standing and belaying their partner as they climb. Belaying can be chilly because you need to stay still while looking after your partnerâ€™s safety on the ropes.
The idea of a belay jacket is that itâ€™s light and easy to pack into a climbing rucksack and offers good warmth and weather resistance while you are belaying.
Of course, the thermal properties of a lightweight or mid-weight insulated jacket mean it is also useful for many other situations, such as when hiking, camping and cycling. Lightweight insulated jackets are hugely popular as mid-layers and outer layers and for all types of outdoor activities.
I carry an insulated jacket with me for almost all my outdoor adventuresÂ because you never know when the weather will change or the temperature will drop. I look for something lightweight and packable but also easily wearable under a waterproof jacket and with good warmth to weight ratios.
The Keela Belay jacket is what I would call a light to mid-weight insulated jacket. The Belay Pro is a newer styled version of the Keela Advanced jacket.
The jacket comes in male and female-cut versions. It utilises Primaloft Gold fill and has a weather resistant outer fabric.
Other features of the Keela Belay Pro include:
- Two zipped hip pockets
- Chest pocket with concealed zip (on the outside)
- Adjustable cuffs
- Inner stormflap
- Shockcord at hem
- Flylite Ripstop outer fabric.
The updates to the older Advanced jacket include a two-way zip instead of a one-way; a neck baffle, which is an elastic system for pulling the neck in tighter to the skin for maximising warmth; and a shockcord hem.
The design has been updated to include a scooped back for better lower back coverage and contrasting coloured zips, presumably so the jackets look nicer!
The Primaloft insulation
PrimaLoft Gold 133g Insulation was formerly known as Primaloft One. It is claimed to be â€œthe highest performing insulation on the market for warmth, water resistance, softness and compressibilityâ€.
PrimaLoft Gold is an ultra-fine microfibre insulation that works whether itâ€™s wet or dry, unlike traditional down, which doesnâ€™t cope with being wet.
The ultra-fine fibres form tiny air pockets that trap body heat and keep the cold out. PrimaLoft states: â€œThe result is immediate warmth without the bulk.â€
On test: The Keela Belay Pro Jacket
This is not the lightest insulated jacket I have come across but it does offer a good warmth to weight ratio. Itâ€™s a mid-weight style jacket that I would put in my rucksack as an extra mid-layer for winter hiking and during spring or summer climbs when there is a potential for belaying out of the sun (this often happens!).
The jacket also does not stuff down into the smallest of pack sizes (in fact, it doesnâ€™t come with a stuff bag). I stuffed it into a small 5l dry bag and compressed as much air out of it as I could. It took up about half the space of the dry bag so it is fairly good for putting into the bottom of a rucksack.
The design of the jacket is well thought out. The womenâ€™s UK10 fits me almost perfectly and is a flattering look. I like the attention to detail with the baffle neck that can be pulled in around the neck when the wind or rain picks up.
Many brands add a hood to this type of jackets but I find the hood ends up getting in the way of waterproof jacket hoods and climbing helmets. It is great that Keela hasnâ€™t bothered with a hood.
In terms of warmth, the jacket does a very good job. The minute that I put it on, I felt warmth drifting around my body. It worked well in windy conditions and although it is only water resistant I would feel confident that the jacket would keep me fairly warm even if it was damp.
Instead of allowing it to get too wet I simply added my normal waterproof jacket over the top when it rained.