Learning how to use a belay jacket is surprisingly simple. Considered largely to be an optional piece of equipment by hobbyists and weekend warriors, diehard alpine or ice climbers swear by these multitasking clothing options. Should you take a moment and discover how to use a belay jacket? If your rock climbing adventures do not end in early fall, the odds are good that this jacket will soon become a must-have bit of gear.
To use a belay jacket, you will need:
- Calendar dates and locales of likely climbs
- Weather pattern charts detailing wind, temperature and precipitation during the target dates
- Items you must carry on your person
- Belay ropes and tools
- Access to a climbing gym
Now that you are ready to learn the tricks of using this versatile climbing tool, here are the must-know steps:
- Check the amount of insulation. Some belay jackets contain various ratings for body, arm and hood insulation while others only concentrate on the body and arms but not the hood. When first learning how to use a belay jacket, the climber may have to convert ounces to grams, since not all manufacturers label their products uniformly for insulating material. Dedicated athletes own a number of different models to have adequate gear for windy, snowy or icy conditions.
- Experiment with the interior storage options. Two interior pockets and an internal bottle pouch are standard among plenty of manufacturers. That being said, it is up to the climber to decide how many items are comfortable to store in these pockets. Generally speaking, slender climbers may experience some discomfort with carrying numerous goods while those of more robust build may not even notice them.
- Test out the exterior hanging loop. A good place to start when discovering how to use a belay jacket is the climbing gym. In case of a fall, the rope will snag the climber, but this motion brings about varying results—depending on the loop’s location on the jacket. Knowing ahead of time what to expect avoids that momentary sensation of panic.
- Use backup safety. Remember that the use of a belay jacket does not provide a guarantee of safety and it is possible for the loop to rip. Relying solely on one piece of equipment is foolhardy in climbing.
Safety is the major concern when learning how to use a belay jacket. Take time to explore its features and do a dry run in controlled conditions before entrusting life and limb to it during an ice climb.