The Oakley Beltline Pro is a ski- and snowboard shell-jacket. After testing it during some backcountry touring I am left with an overall good impression.
The Oakley Beltline jacket is a good allround ski- and snowboard jacket. I would say that the most important aspects when choosing a ski jacket today is fit and design details. The fabric- and production quality among the top brands are pretty much the same these days. Obviously, fit and design are subjective qualities, but my personal impression of the Beltline was that it had a good fit. Some design-twists on otherwise conventional solutions makes it a bit differentiated from the majority of ski-jackets on the market.
Now a days the quality on ski jackets are pretty much the same across the different brands. Which translates into gore-tex proshell membrane with a durable outer fabric. Snow skirt is a given when talking about ski jackets. The lack of insulation is also getting close to standard on these kinds of jackets. Especially in the segment aimed at backcountry touring. The Beltline definitively falls into this category. The lack of insulation allows for much more flexible temperature control as you can adjust warmth through layers beneath the outer shell. Not leaving your jacket useless for the warmer spring-skiing season. You can always get warmer by adding a layer, but making it cooler is hard if your jacket has insulation you can’t remove.
The main differences between jackets in this segment are found in the design details. In this area Oakley has some different solutions than most other manufacturers.
The most obvious is the design of the venting zippers beneath the arms. Where the convention is a straight zipper, Oakley has chosen to curve these around the arm. These are a bit harder to reach and open at first, as it is a lot harder to get enough stretch in the fabric to withstand the resistance in the waterproof zippers. But after breaking in the zippers it got easier to open and was not really a problem anymore. Although the curved zippers are a bit harder to open they give a much wider opening which enhances the venting function. Good for warmer days or if you easily start to sweat during the ascents.
Oakley has also placed breathing holes on the top part of the neck that is in front of your mouth when the jacket is completely closed. The breathing holes are covered by flaps in normal pro-shell material which prevent wind from blowing through the breathing holes into the jacket. These flaps have a nice feature as they are stiffened up, creating some space and air between the breathing holes and the weather protecting flaps. This might seem as a trivial detail at first, but makes breathing with the jacket completely closed more comfortable in the long run. This is because the space between the flaps and the holes allows moisture from your breath to exit the jacket reducing the condensation on the inside by quite a bit.
As to the general fit it was nice and comfortable without having a lot of excess fabric. This makes it very suitable for touring where you need good mobility. The sizes are fairly normal compared to most european brands.
All in all: I was really satisfied with the jacket. It is definitively worth checking out if you are looking for a new ski jacket for next season.