Buying Guides / Climbing / Walking /
Psiphon FL Jacket Review by Charlie Woodburn
Trad climbing in the UK can be a tricky business when it comes to getting the correct attire. In my local area of the Lake District the weather is especially unpredictable and can vary from wind and snow to hot sun in a single day.
I hate being too hot when I’m climbing and equally hate being too cold on belay ledges, and so deciding what clothing to wear or pack for a day out trad climbing can be a complex business. Recently I’ve been wearing the Psiphon FL jacket and I have to say I’ve been impressed. I would not normally wear a windproof style shell for making the long tiring walk up to many of Lakeland’s higher crags as breathability can be a problem, however the Psiphon FL has been remarkably good. Arriving at the base of the crag without a sweaty back after an hour plus trudge up the hill with a heavy pack has been fantastic.
Whilst climbing in slightly cooler temps the jacket has been superb. In the past I would carry a Squamish Hoody or a Nuclei Hoody packed up and clipped to the back of my harness and then use them on belays. However, the combination of superb breathability and excellent windproof fabric means that I can wear the jacket at all times with great comfort.
The cut of the jacket is designed for a wide range of movement. The under arm panels allow your arms to reach above your head without the base of the jacket riding up and the slight stretch in the fabric means complete freedom of movement. Overall I would say that the sizing of the Psiphon FL is slightly larger than normal. I am 5’ 10” and wear a Medium. This size was quite spacious on me with just a T shirt underneath, however I can happily wear the Psiphon FL over the top of a warmer layer like a an Atom SL or Nuclei LT without compromising range of movement whilst climbing.
Another bug bear of mine is when a jacket rides up from being tucked into your harness and then flaps around restricting access to your gear loops – this is especially frustrating when pumped and run out from your last bit of gear! Arcteryx have solved this problem brilliantly with 2 Hemlock inserts on each side of the hem which hold the jacket down. This works extremely well as long as you don’t wear your harness belt slightly looser. I would also like to see a third Hemlock insert at the back of the jacket too to restrict the Psiphon riding up when bending forward.
The hood fits very well over a helmet, but can be reduced down too if you prefer to climb without one. A great feature is the hood’s stowaway capability for when the wind is causing it to flap around annoyingly. This feature is also helpful for when you are wearing several layers, each with their own hood. Too many hoods back there can end up being a gigantic cluster, so one less can help tidy things up.
The Psiphon FL is the main jacket I pack now for all styles of trad climbing due to its versatility across the weather spectrum. From windy sea cliffs to multi pitching in the mountains, this jacket is likely to have it covered.