Review: Ortovox Piz Boe Jacket
Ortovox has been making wool based clothing for the mountains since 1988, and it shows. The quality and craftsmanship are top notch and the Ortovox Piz Boe is no exception. The Ortovox Piz Boe jacket incorporates Merino wool, Swiss wool, Pertex and Schoeller into a great Ski Touring jacket. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a environmentally conscious mid-weight insulated jacket with a strange name (more on that below).
- Outer Material: Pertex Quantum and Schoeller Merino Naturtec Light
- Insulation: 60 g/m Swiss Wool
- Number of pockets: 3
- Hood: Yes, non-adjustable
- Cut: Athletic
- Country of Origin: Serbia
Who is Ortovox?
Ortovox is a mountain safety and clothing company based in Taufkirchen, just south of Munich, Germany. The company’s history goes back to 1985 when founders Gerald Kampel and Jürgen Wegner developed the first double frequency transceiver. Their first Ski pack came shortly after and then in 1988 they began making clothes with Walk Wool.
Ortovox puts a lot of emphasis on education and safety in the mountains. They have the Ortovox Safety Academy, they offer Avalanche + Climbing safety courses in Europe as well as online training tools for Snow Safety. It continues with online guidebooks, the Ortovox Safety Academy Lab and the Ortovox Alpine Touring App.
Ortovox also places a lot of emphasis on Sustainability. Their ProtACT2024 is an effort to be climate neutral and have their products be PFC free by 2024. They have also been Fair Wear Leaders since 2018.
What is the Piz Boe?
Piz Boè is the highest peak in the Sella group of the Dolomites at 3,152 meters. It’s a great peak with a rustic hut and epic views of the surrounding mountains. The summit can be reached via difficult hiking trails or a well known Via-Ferrata.
I’ve hiked to the summit at least four times on my trips to the Dolomites and can easily see why this jacket was named for this peak. It’s a great all around insulation piece and I will likely bring it along as a warm layer on my summer adventures, quite possibly to the Top of the Piz Boe.
What is the Piz Boe Jacket?
The Piz Boe jacket is an athletic fitting mid layer designed for ski touring.
The Ortovox Piz Boe jacket boasts a range of materials. The shell is made of Pertex Quantum. This is a 100% recycled polyamide that is water resistant and wind proof. I can vouch for the windproofing but after 40+ days it could use a touch up of the DWR. I’ve had to wash it once or twice, as it’s been soaked in sweat more than a few times, which of course impacts the efficacy of a DWR treatment. On the durability side, the jacket hasn’t torn nor are there any stray threads showing or other issues.
The lining consists of 60 g/m² Swisswool lining. The swiss wool lining is made of 88 % virgin wool. Like the name suggests, the wool is sourced from Sheep in the Swiss Alps. According to Ortovox it can absorb up to 35 % of it’s own weight in moisture without feeling wet to the touch. This aids in keeping warm when wet, which this jacket does relatively well. I never conducted a head-to-head comparison of the Piz Boe’s wool with a synthetic fill jacket, but I also never felt cold due from sweating in it and I appreciated the reduced environmental impact the natural fibers have.
The Ortovox Piz Boe jacket has a very unique quilted look to it. This is to keep the swiss wool matt in place, similar to baffles in a down jacket.
Under the armpits and transitioning to the back are Schoeller Naturtex Merino inserts. They are made of 75% recycled polyamide, 18% OWP Merino wool and 7% elastine. These stretchy panels allow your underarms to breath, the jacket to stretch with large movement and still retain some warmth.
Fit of the Ortovox Piz Boe Jacket
The Ortovox Piz Boe Jacket has a trim, athletic fit. Just long enough in the arms and just long enough in the body. I am 6’1” and anywhere from 190 to 200 lbs and the XL fits me well. Any tighter and I would want to size up. In this way, it’s an unobtrusive jacket. There are no large baggy folds to get in the way nor is it overly tight in the shoulders or chest to restrict movement. Even if it were, the stretch in the Schoeller Naturtec shoulders would help.
The arm length is just right. Any shorter and they would be too short. I don’t know my arm length, sorry, but I’m 6’1″ and usually enjoy extra long sleeves. The Long elasticated cuffs keep out the wind and cold at bay on freezing summits.
Harnesses fit over the Piz Boe easily with no interruption from the jacket thanks to its athletic fit. Finding the gear loops on glacier harnesses is easy. The pockets are well out of the way.
Features of the Ortovox Piz Boe Jacket
The Jacket has three pockets. A Chest pocket big enough for a radio or my iPhone 8 plus. The sizing is just right. The phone or radio are snug but easy to put in and remove. There are two hand pockets that double as vents. They are positioned high on the jacket for when you put on a harness. They are quite high, even for my high hips.
There is an elasticized hood. It fits over a helmet, but would be uncomfortable, so it is best under a helmet, but that’s more for alpine climbing that skiing.
The elastic waistband is not adjustable, and to be honest, it doesn’t need adjusting. Why would you want an insulation piece loose at the bottom? It would only serve to allow drafts in. It does tend to flip inside, but perhaps it just hugging my belly and telling me to stop eating croissants? Again, it does not affect the function of the jacket.
I’ve taken Piz Boe on 95% of my splitboarding and snowboarding adventures this winter. From days on the resort to teaching AST courses and long walks into couloirs, I have had it on. It has kept me warm, but not overly hot, when moving at a slow pace and when doing warm weather transitions. For downhill riding, it has served me well except for very cold chair rides (think -18 and colder). For mid paced tours and faster your going to want to keep it in your pack.
There are no signs of wear other than the two food stains I dropped on it. That’s my fault for eating too fast, and wearing this jacket all the time, even at the dinner table.
The Ortovox Piz Boe jacket is marketed as a Ski Touring Jacket and as such does a great job as a mid layer for ski touring. I think the Piz Boé is a great 4 season mid-weight insulation piece. Owing to its lightweight, light weatherproofing thanks to the Pertex shell and athletic fit, the Piz Boe will likely find it’s way in my summer guiding pack as well.
Pros: Good warmth when wet, ergonomic fit layers very well, great color scheme
Cons: Hand pockets are a little high, could be slightly longer in the arms,
If you think the Ortovox Piz Boe is for you, then head on over to Ortovox to get your fix.
Ortovox Canada provided Black Sheep Adventure Sports with a sample of the Piz Boe jacket but this did not effect my review at all.