Review: Gajardoni Challenge Jacket 800N

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Review: Gajardoni Challenge Jacket 800N

Postby Yeknodathon » 27 Dec 2016 16:02

Firstly, I am a beginner so have little knowledge of other jackets, other than those I spot in a club setting.

However, I am an everyday motorcyclist so used to assessing protective kit for comfort and performance, but not in a fencing environment!

To be honest, looking at common jackets before choosing I wasn't too impressed. Yes, they seemed to function and I wasn't hearing many adverse comments but they didn't seem to be too robust or be standing up too well. So I wanted to choose well based on YouTube videos and other reviews and opinions.

The Gajardoni appealed immediately. An irrational thing, but it just seemed right for me so I took the plunge.

I chose the custom made option as I wanted to get the best fit and add a bit to the length to avoid undue lifting with raised arms. Although Gajardoni were a bit slow to respond after the order (I caught them in holiday; tip, please Gajardoni, wee messgae on website?) once they were ready the service to guide me through measuring and, yes, re-measuring and advice and help was extremely pleasant, responsive and thorough.

On receipt, first impressions were good. Before even trying it on, it just looked well made. On first wearing and a few practice moves, just nothing to say. And this is my greatest praise, once on, it does not feel on - I forget it. It does not feel bulky even with all the protective bits or cramp or chafe or get in the way.. Its rather like a skin.

The jacket comes with a whole bunch of protective cups (shoulders and elbows which are fitted in pockets) and even more pre-cut protective hard foam impact strips and shapes to velcro into the liner and adjust as necessary. To be honest, I took most out - as a beginner I am not sparring at full intensity and besides, a knock here and there will teach me good habits :). But it is good to have all of (and there is a lot) the protective pieces if I need them. Even out, I get far less serious bruises even doing beginner, newby things. However, this is my first issue, they attach with velcro on to the liner and some were falling off here and there when the jacket was open. I don't think this will be an issue with more velcro or when the jacket is closed. The gorget piece is a bit fiddly (there is also a collar protective strip, again secured by velcro in a neck cuff) and doesn't fit well when flat, but sorts itself out when worn. Some owners have cut the gorget "wings" to make it fit better. I just stuff them in if they poke out!

One of the advantages, to me, of the jacket is that it does not have a front zip - for a leftie this is a plus; I do not need to worry about a zip being on the wrong side and no zip at the front means it will not catch a blade (as all the protection is beneath the jacket shell, nothing catches a blade).This is where the fun starts, the zip is on the back. And that means reaching behind to fiddle a bit to start things off. This takes practice and is a bit of a pain. The more I hurry, the more difficult it is to get a good starting connection. Once done, the zip is on a long cord to pull it up. This is my second issue, if not done right up (the zip can snag 4/5 up) it will work slowly down again with time. I guess it is a technique thing and more me being impatient rather than the jacket.

The collar is fine and fits under the mask bib. Perhaps not as safe as other jacket systems but with the in-built gorget and collar protection strip I feel safe and allows for good head mobility with no snagging or dragging.

Due to the custom sizing the sleeves are just perfect. Gloves fit with no issue and there is no problem with the placement of the elbow and shoulder cups which do not make themselves present when I fence.

When sparring, I do not feel too much build up of warmth or discomfort from heat, but then riding motorcycles I'm sort of used to helmets and gear, so hard to make a realistic comparison with other HEMA jackets. The 800N resistant fabric is likely the lining which is perforated well to allow air to move; so tells me by the tailor who looked at it, sticking a needle into it proves "resistant", unlike the shell.

With most of the protective shapes off, the jacket folds down reasonably well into a bag. If needed, the inserts could be stored separately to allow easy transport.

As a first jacket, I am enjoying it - it has its issues, but at the end of the day I forget I am wearing it when it matters - it does not distract except when I have stopped when it does get a fair share of admirers! Italian styling is the bonus icing on a tasty 800N protective jacket cake. Well done, Gajardoni!

Alex
Last edited by Yeknodathon on 01 Jan 2017 21:54, edited 18 times in total.
Yeknodathon
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Re: Review: Gajardoni Challenge Jacket 800N

Postby gulnpatch » 27 Dec 2016 16:18

Great review Alex!
gulnpatch
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