'Alpkit may be new to waterproofs, but they're learning fast and the Balance is a near flawless lightweight all-rounder'
Outdoors Magic: Sub-300g weight, very breathable, good hood and thorough all-round design and build quality.
Outdoors Tragic: Nothing really.
Outdoors Grabbit? Alpkit are newcomers to waterproofs, but they've created a cracking lightweight walking and all-round outdoors jacket here with a great cut and flawless function. And the price is super competitive for what you get.
Lightweight women's-specific waterproof jacket / 3-layer waterproof fabric with PU membrane / Hydrostatic head: 25,000 mm / MVTR: 35,000 g/sqm/24hrs / adjustable hood with stiffened and wired peak / 2 waist-belt friendly, map-sized hand pockets with part-mesh venting lining / YKK Aquaguard water resistant zips / internal storm flap and chin guard / cuff shaped over the back of hand / minimal visible stitching / bonded hem construction / fully adjustable hem
Full Review Below
Alpkit Women's Balance Jacket - The Tech
Alpkit is relatively new to waterproof jackets, but it's already right up with the major contenders. One reason that's possible is that 'non-brand' waterproof fabrics, like the lightweight 3-layer stuff Alpkit is using here, are simply getting better and better.
In this case that means waterproofing figures that are in the same region as top 'name' fabrics and breathability - that in the lab at least - is as good or better.
'You can get the hood on and off with the zip fully up to your chin and the adjuster tight as it goes thanks to the side elastic. Absolutely no messing about needed.'
The rest of the jacket is simply really thoroughly thought through and put together. Alpkit's clothing designer is ex-Rab, so should know a thing or two about what works and what doesn't.
The check list is thoroughly ticked: YKK water-resistant zip with storm-flap; venting pack-friendly pockets; wired and stiffened hood peak; artfully-shaped protective cuffs (not shown); full all-round adjustability.
It's all, says Alpkit, about creating a light but durable jacket which gives you the features you need, but without unnecessary details and fripperies.
Alpkit Women's Balance Jacket - Performance
'I'd buy this jacket' said review crew member Lynn and no-one had a bad word to say about it, which was slightly amazing.
For starters, the cut is a bob-on Goldilocks affair. Not too long or short, narrow or wide, just impressively woman shaped.
'At the back, the jacket glides gently down over hips, ending at a natural mid point, a nice length for a jacket, not ridging up around the waist, and not so long it restricts movement at all.' Said Alison.
'It was the only jacket on test I didn’t overheat in at some point going uphill or pushing the pace'
Then there's the light but not flimsy feeling fabric. It's comfortable against the skin thanks to the 'special wicking knit backer' and the lab figures don't lie. It really is decently breathable, 'the only jacket on test I didn’t overheat in at some point going uphill or pushing the pace a bit' said one tester.
The pockets are pleasingly large to take a map easily, have big openings and also double as useful vents thanks to a part-mesh lining. Easy-to-use pull tags make them easy to open and close as well and they sit above a pack waist-belt.
And then there's the hood. Everyone loved it for its slick fit, adjustability and combination of peripheral vision and protection. The stiffened and wired peak is good call. And the ace in the Balance hole is neat side elastication which means you can ease the hood off even with the main-zip fully closed.
It's a similar set-up to the Gravitas Jacket we've also been using and works really well. The hood will also just about take a helmet if necessary, though it's not really touted as a helmet hood.
Alpkit Women's Balance Jacket - Verdict
Everyone who tried it loved the Balance. From its school cagoule blue colour through to the thoroughly designed hood, it simply gets on with the job of keeping you dry and comfortable regardless of whether you're walking, biking or even running.
The fabric is very waterproof and properly breathable and the cut, oh, the cut is the polar opposite of the sort of 'shrink and pink' versions of men's jackets that used to pop up everywhere. It's shaped to fit neatly and unrestrictively with a 'just right' fit that's neither too long or too short.
And then there's that magic hood. If we were being really fussy, we'd have preferred a moulded tooth Vislon zip for its easy of, well, zipping, but in all honesty, there's nothing particularly wrong about the zips it has.
All this and a highly competitive price-tag of £175. Just a really good all-round, lightweight waterproof jacket. Recommended.