135 forum posts
For winter camping I've bought a Phdesigns rondoy jacket :
I give a preliminary or short term review here with more to follow.
it's a really lightweight jacket but really warm. To give you an idea I'll compare it to the MH sub zero SL jacket. They are not playing in the same category but they are comparable in terms of warmth and the sub zero is a well known model. Moreover I'll will also compare for which use, which one is best.
The fit :
almost indetical bit have a drop tail to protect ones ass. Both are roomy to allow serious layering. the sleeves in the rondoy are roomier. You can wear a light down jacket underneath to boost the temp rating. If you want to do that with the SZ, take a larger size.
the Rondoy is a minimalist alpine jacket. Two front above harness pocket protected buy water resistant zipper and one inside security pocket with a hook to store a bottle for example. On the contrary the sub zero has 4 outer pockets + one mesh pocket and 1 security pocket in the inside. the MH as 2 adjustable draw cords hips and waist. The rondoy has just one. I like the additionale draw cord on the sub zero.
The front pocket of the rondoy are huge. I can put my expedition mitts in it. You have less pockets but i thing the storage volume are the same on both jacket.
The front pocket on the SZ are tiny and a little useless.
the insulation :
i would say 350 grms of 650 FP down for the MH and 200 of 850 FP for the rondoy. Here the rondoy just execute the SZ. The loft is incredible and the arms are much more insulated on the rondoy. The down density in the SZ is much higher though. Consequently it resist wind pressure much better. So this is a disadvantage in terms of weight but an advantage in terms of wind resistance.
the construction :
both are fully baffled. The don't have vertical baffles in the sleeves. When you bent your arms the down shift and there a little cold spot. It's less pronounced on the rondoy. I don't why manufacturers don't put vertical baffles in the elbow compartments. The only manufacturers, at least to my knowledge, using vertical baffles in the sleeves is Valandré
The rondoy as well as the SZ don't have overfilled shoulder compartments. It's minor but I prefer that feature.
the SZ has a huge draft tube behind the front zipper. The rondoy has a tiny one. The zippers on the SZ is better but heavier of course.
The hood and the collar :
The collar of the SZ is a real bivy collar and the hood is really well insulated with a full draft tube around the forehead. The rondoy's hood is less insulated but really well insulated too. Mine don't have a draft tube but a coyote fur ruff. The collar is much smaller on the rondoy.
the hood on the rondoy is not so easy to adjust. I prefer the SZ one.
the sleeves :
the SZ sleeves are disappointing. The insulation is really thin with a down shifting quite relevant in the joint compartments. The rondoy sleeve are much more insulated with a much thicker layer of down. certainly due to the high fill power.
the fabric :
the rondoy fabric is drishell, it's water resistant (1500mm) and windproof. It repels water and spills quite well like many other fabric those days. The SZ fabric is conduit SL which seems tougher but that's just a feeling. It is said to be waterproof but the seams are not sealed so there's no point. It is totally windproof though.
the uses :
I would say that these jackets are not climbing jacket, you cannot raise your arm easily. you can use the rondoy as a belay jacket and put it over your garments any time you want. The rondoy is really lightweight 640 grams with the fur ruff and highly compressible. it feets in a 4 liter bag. It is my winter camping jacket as well as my cold canadian winter jacket and I've plan to take anywhere where the temp is higher -30F. The rondoy would be my first choice if I had to climb the Aconcagua (by the normal routes) and for belaying while doing any outdoor activity.
The SZ is to heavy and to big to be taken as a belay jacket. From my point of view it's well suited for everyday cold backcountry days or even downtown during northern american winter. I would take it for cold trek like the aconcagua but would be unhappy to do so because of its bulk. I would also take it if I have to store a lot of things. You can take it for alpine climbing but then you'll probably have to lighten your gear elsewhere (by taking a quilt instead of a sleeping bag for example) except you are really tough.
retail price :
The rondoy's retail price is 280 pounds with 20 pc tax. If you live in the us you just pay 220 pounds+shipping 38 pounds + US tax=258 pounds+ tax=403 usd+ tax. For that quality it is a fair price. Moreover you have a level of custumization you don't have with the SZ
the sz is 330 but you can have for almost half the price nowdays. for 330 box it's way to expensive. the 650 FP down is not worth the price. 200 dollars seems to be a fair price for that jacket. Anything higher is a scam
bottom line and personal insight:
The rondoy very lightweight, very warm, minimalist jacket. Very good outer fabric. I prefer the rondoy by far (of course since I bought it). It's so light yet so warm. It allows you to do all the things you can do with the MH and more due to its law bulk. It has a much better value for money ratio than the SZ. If you're short on money and can find a SZ for 200 box then go for it (except if you need something light with low bulk).
To be continued...
I hope this helps.