BeyondFleece first impressions

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I just got my BeyondFleece Cold Fusion jacket on Monday and wanted to write a review. Since I ordered it back in November and Beyond claims to deliver your jacket in about 2 weeks you might wonder what took so long.

It's true that Beyond shipped my jacket in a week or so. Unfortunately, the jacket that they sent me appeared to have been sized for someone who weighed about 220 pounds. Since I weigh 170 pounds the fit was rather more like a burlap bag than a custom-fitted jacket. No problem, everyone makes mistakes and Beyond offers a perfect fit guarantee. I contacted Beyond and they told me to ship it back with a note. I did that around December 21st, but by the time I got back from Christmas, I hadn't heard from them and the USPS package tracking said that it hadn't been picked up. I called them and found out that they had been on vacation but would get to the jacket shortly. We talked a little bit about the fit problem and they agreed that there was some kind of systematic error and that they'd work it out.

When the new jacket showed up a week or so later, however, it was closer, but still too big. In particular, the lower torso and the arms were way too lose. I e-mailed Beyond and asked if they wanted to try to fix it or just give me my money back. They said they were willing to try again (they did agree to pay return shipping), so I sent it back with a very extensive note, including some more measurements and photos of me in the jacket. Two weeks later, the post office indicated that the jacket was in their P.O. box and hadn't been picked up. When I got Beyond on the phone, they said that they usually had people send things to their physical address--I didn't see this on their web site--and that they would go check the P.O. box. A week later I still hadn't heard anything and I called them.

When I finally checked my spam filter, I realized that Beyond customer service had told me that they hadn't seen a note in their P.O. box. However, a week later they went back and asked at the counter and found that there just hadn't been a note but the jacket was there. Customer service and I exchanged a few messages and I told them it would be nice to get the new jacket by Friday March 4 in times to take it to IETF. They asked if the 4th was OK and I said yes, but come the 4th--no joy!

The third iteration of the jacket finally arrived Monday March 14th. After all that waiting, it's basically pretty nice. The fit in the shoulders and torso is much better than any off-the-rack jacket I've seen (I looked at Arc'Teryx, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, and REI). The sleeves are still a little loose for my taste, but they're nice and comfortable in about any arm position, so certainly within the margin of error. Overall, the jacket looks good and the general level of comfort is quite high. I haven't had a chance to take it outside in any extreme conditions so I can't say much about how it performs in the cold and wet.

My general feeling about BeyondFleece is pretty mixed. The jacket is certainly nice, but having to wait this long (and send it back twice!) was pretty annoying. The whole reason I ordered a custom jacket was that I'm an unusual shape, so it's sort of disappointing that it was so hard for them to fit me. And while the Beyond customer service people were unerringly nice, they were fairly hard to get a hold of and didn't seem that interested in turning things around quickly. In general, if one of the off-the-rack jackets fits you fairly well, you might want to stick with that, since you can get a fairly predictable result in terms of fit and delivery time.

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