Patagonia Knifeblade P/O review

I had the pleasure of spending St. Paddy’s day with my good ole friend EJ Plimley. We decided to go check out a mixed crag that neither of us had been to up Evans Thomas Creek in Kananaskis Country. EJ lead one really cool funky WI 5 pitch and then we climbed a surprisingly aesthetic, long, and challenging M7 bolted mixed route.

I chose to wear my new Patagonia Knifeblade pullover as much because it was green (St.Paddy’s) as due to its technical merits. Aside from being an awesome day out with a great bud and some good challenging climbing, my opinion of this jacket really changed. Both Ross and Jason (Onwardup crew) have raved about this jacket for ice climbing and ski touring and it seems that Patagonia ambassador Steve House is also a big fan: I was a late adopter as I didn’t think it fit me very well when trying it on at home. It felt short in the torso.

I have been using the Patagonia Northwall which also uses Polartec Powershield Pro but has a slightly different fit and also some Regulator pile. I have been a big fan of the Northwall for colder days ice climbing. It is a soft-shell but is 100% wind proof and has a significant ability to fend off water (5000mm rating for the geeks in the house, about 1/4 as waterproof as a H2No or Gore hardshell) and has amazing breath-ability for something that is windproof. The Knifeblade Pullover has the same weather resistance as the Northwall but without the pile insulation so it is better suited to warmer days, layering, and summer use.

In a nutshell, I didn’t notice this jacket all day (which is a REALLY good thing), including while wearing it on the hour long hike out with a pace that prevented E.J. from being late for the evening celebrations of his wife’s favorite day of the year; it breathes really well. It is a minimalistic pullover construction but has a longer than normal front zipper to allow the user to blow off more heat and steam than a normal 1/4 zip pullover. With the waterproofness and windproofness of the Powershield Pro it is plenty weatherproof for any winter, below freezing, day.

The best thing about this jacket for me is the very fit. It is the only jacket I have ever used that stayed tucked into my harness on a long, acrobatic, pitch of ice and rock climbing. My standard for ‘excellent’ fit just changed. In the past I have expected even the best fitting jackets to come untucked from my harness on demanding pitches. One thing that compounds the classic ‘untucking’ is a heavy rack of hardware on the harness. In this case I only had 14 quickdraws and some anchor material but I was dragging an 8mm tag line so did have a fair amount of weight.

This is my new winter climbing go-to jacket. If I had to recommend one ice/alpine climbing jacket this would be it. I will personally still use my Northwall on the colder (-15 or less) days but that is really only because I have both. As for summer use, I think this jacket would be too heavy and warm for most days. In the summer I prefer something like the Houdini (for it’s light weight, pack-ablity, and wind resistance) or the Simple Guide Hoody (for it’s breathability and durability).

Hope you enjoy some of the photos.

Happy Trails!

Rob O.

(Photo Below: the Knifeblade still well tucked in even after a long pitch with big moves)



One Response to “Patagonia Knifeblade P/O review”

  1. Jake March 21, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    Phone’s ringin dude.

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