I used a PBT “HEMA jacket with inlays” between early 2013 and mid 2015. It was a good jacket for my purposes at the time I bought it, but it wasn’t quite right for me in the long run. It is, however, probably the most comfortable jacket I have used so far!
This review: motivation and transparency
I bought this jacket for my own use in early 2013. I wore it regularly between 2013 and mid 2015, and then I stopped using it in favour of the SPES AP jacket. I want to share my thoughts about a jacket that served me reasonably well for a couple of years.
(Edit: this “motivation” section was added on the 9th of March 2019, as part of an effort to improve the transparency of the various reviews on this website.)
Level of padding
The material of the jacket is lightly padded, and the main padding comes in the form of foam inserts around the torso and rubber inserts over the shoulder. One of the first things I did was to remove the rubber inserts from the shoulders, as I found they hampered my movement quite significantly. The foam padding around the torso was quite reasonable, and gave some decent protection against hits – including protection around the kidneys, which are often left relatively unpadded by many other jackets.
The PBT HEMA jacket is not currently certified to have any penetration resistance.
Cut and mobility
The jacket has excellent mobility, as long as you remove the rubber inserts at the shoulders. It goes down far enough to cover the hips and pelvis.
Stiffness and breaking in period
The jacket needs no breaking in period, because it is so comfortable and flexible even brand new out of the box.
Zips and fastenings
The zip is perfectly durable and functional.
It is located at the back of the jacket, up the spine. This may seem daunting and awkward at first, but there is a lanyard attached to the zip, making it pretty easy to put it on and take it off again.
The jacket has a wide enough collar to allow a rigid gorget to fit beneath it.
The collar is fitted with a “blade catcher”, a pocket opening downward, that can provide some protection against a blade sliding upward from the torso so that it is caught in this pocket and does not go into the face or throat. The blade catcher has never worked for me, though, but it probably depends on how any piece of equipment fits a given person, how peoples hold themselves and move while fencing, also to some extent luck or bad luck. I think it is good to have this feature on the collar, but it is not correct to rely on it to prevent blades from going up beneath the bib of the mask.
The PBT HEMA jacket is is probably the coolest jacket I have worn, in terms of dealing with heat retention. It does not become particularly hot, and is much more pleasant to wear on a hot day than a more heavily padded jacket such as the SPES “Axel Pettersson” jacket.
The jacket is light, weighing around 1.5 to 2 kg.
The jacket looks tidy and modern. Because of the foam inserts, it does look a little bulky, so it is not the most flattering jacket to wear. Although I am a fairly slim person, my PBT HEMA jacket made me look a bit shapeless and bulky, which wasn’t an aesthetic that I particualrly enjoyed seeing in photographs or videos.
The jacket is not cheap, at around £160-£170. If you find a size of this kind of jacket that fits you well, or if you live in a hot climate, then it is probably worth it.
The PBT “HEMA jacket with inlays” is a decent jacket, although some of the inlays do impede mobility, and the other inlays make it a somewhat bulky proposition. Nonetheless, it is very comfortable, and does not retain much heat; it is probably the most comfortable HEMA jacket I have ever worn. For heavier hitting clubs, I probably wouldn’t recommend it over the SPES “Axel Pettersson” jacket, but if your school has a more relaxed environment and hard hitting is not so much of an issue for you, then this could be a very comfortable and very reasonable choice of jacket, especially during the summer if you live somewhere warm!
Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. I teach regularly at Liverpool HEMA, and help behind the scenes with running HEMA in Glasgow at the Vanguard Centre.