Most certainly not the best known brand when it comes to outdoor gear. However Simond does comes on the market with a good range of products at affordable prices. If you expect top quality and functionality then you’re barking at the wrong tree.
Simond Alpinism Jacket is designed to be a belay winter layer. I couldn’t certify this as the one I bought served a different purpose. While looking for a jacket to wear on rainy days around the city I came across a discussion on a facebook group. Reading some of the suggestions I went ahead and ordered it from decathlon for just under £30. Being on sale at that time.
The size is on the small side, very small in fact. I have an european M (92-95cm chest) and is just enough room for a fleece underneath. As a comparison, my North Face is an S and can also take a softshell. Therefore if you do intend to get one, keep this in mind.
The hood is big and can easily take a helmet. It has a draw cord at the back and two in the front, which go through some small lops to avoid hitting you in the face. Nice touch from Simond here. The issue though is when not wearing a helmet. And I don’t because it would look pretty stupid to walk around the city like that. The hood adjustment is just too clumsy and it just packs the extra material on the sides and back making it unaesthetic and bulky. When windy, you really have to pull those cords to make it effective.
The sleeves are just enough to offer mobility. Not too baggy and well cut. They have a simple elasticated band to keep it tight around the wrist. They do extend and cover most of the palm if needed. I obviously didn’t expect any velcro cuffs at this price.
The pockets are three in number. The chest one is a napoleon type but in a small size. It could take at most some bars, a headtorch and a phone or gps unit. Definitely not a map. The other two are waist height and fleeced inside, and also pretty warm. Just enough room for your hands. Unfortunately no internal pocket. All of them are easy accessible and have zippers.
The body is an alpine cut, slightly longer at the back for extra protection. It does have a slightly baggy aspect due to its 180g of filling. I’m pretty slim and still look like having a beer belly. The two way zipper is smooth and so far going strong. Also protected by a guard to stop it pinching the material. At the bottom there are two toggles in order to bring in the hem. I didn’t find the need to use them as it’s tight as it is.
The material is nothing special or any advanced technology. Outside is polyester while the filling is polyamide. As far as I’ve seen it only comes in black or orange. And as anything on these days, made in China. It can be washed at 30 degrees which I did and turned out perfectly fine.
Pros and Cons:
On the paper it looks to good to be true:
- 180g of insulation in the main body and 120g in sleeves and hood
- adjustable hood and waist
- 2 fleeced warm pockets and 1 napoleon chest pocket
- a two way zip
- reinforced shoulders and arms.
It does however miss some features I find quite important for a belay jacket, and not only.
- waterproofing is present only on the reinforced sections
- at 750g on a M size is pretty heavy
- no compression bag and it does not pack very small either
- no internal pockets
- the hood does not move with the head and restricts vision
As I previously mentioned, this jacked was bought for an urban use. Therefore its performance hasn’t actually been tested in the mountains. Is still has one season of winter use from which I could draw a few conclusions. If the warmth is what you are worried about, then don’t. This jacket is toasty. At -5C waiting for the bus in Glencoe kept me warm with just a thin fleece underneath. I can say is as warm as my 120g Primaloft Gold North Face. If on the other hand, the rain is your enemy, then you should be afraid. Just a few minutes in moderate rain and it was soaked. Doesn’t dry very quick either, especially in the pocket area. I wonder how will this perform on a snowy while belaying.
If you do have to carry it, then you should be aware it take a bit of space. I had it on a trip to Prague as a backup jacket and it took about a quarter of my 35L pack space. So not the most friendly when it comes to travelling light, especially at about 750g.
Quality is another important aspect that one should care about. Is normal not to be the same as a £500 garment. So if you have such expectations prepare for disappointment. The jacket has seen somewhere around 120 days of use. It’s in a very good used condition except for one part. The inside of the bottom hem. It appears that the waist cords have rubbed against the body through the material. Maybe 5 – 6 pinches along the band.
As for the fit, as already mentioned, I went up 1 size and even so is quite tight on the waist. Rest of the body is just fine, flexible enough and comfortable to wear. Well except for the hood.
This is a very well made jacket for its price tag. And if you get it on sale as I did, it’s a steal. Trust me, you won’t get any better. It obviously has some downsides the biggest ones being the weight and no proofing. Would I recommend it? It really depends on what you are looking for. I find this a good town/ visit to the country side jacket. It’s very warm and despite the quality issue mentioned above I still think is a good buy. For general mountaineering and climbing? If you are on a tight budget and not too fussy about the bulkiness and weight. Or if you are a general hill walker. Then go ahead and get it. It will probably do the job just fine and won’t break the bank. But if you are looking for a technical jacket to have for the next 3-4 seasons this is not for you. I would personally not use this up the mountains. And not because it’s an inferior brand but because it fails to meet certain requirements on my list. Those would be lightweight ( based on warmth/weight ratio), weatherproof (rain/wind) durability, packability, sleek design without being too bulky, internal pockets ( to extra items like a map or buff) and other technical features ( like wired hood peak and velcro cuffs). And I did find a jacket to tick all the boxes. It will be reviewed in the near future and I will add a link as soon as it’s ready.