Alpkit's New Waterproof Jackets - Scoop!
Up till now Alpkit's clothing range has been limited to a selection of down and synthetic insulated jackets along with tees and baselayers, but that's all about to change with the launch of the brand's first waterproof shell jackets and we thought you might like a very early look at the women's Balance Jacket, an all-rounder designed for 'hiking, biking, scrambling or paddling'.
The jacket's in for our forthcoming women's waterproof round-up, but don't worry boys, a men's version coming too along with an ultra lightweight waterproof shell called the Gravitas - which sounds, erm, 'seriously' light, sorry.
Anyway, back to the Balance. In a nutshell, it's a sub-300g - just 270g on our digital scales for a size 12 prototype - complete with two pack-friendly hand-pockets using YKK Aquaguard water-resistant zips, adjustable cuffs, hem and hood and, as you'd expect from a UK brand, a stiffened and wired hood.
What you might not expect from a company making its first steps into the waterproof shell arena is the overall feel of quality components and thorough design, something you might find a little less surprising when you learn that Alpkit's new clothing designer, Ronnie Legg has joined the team from Rab.
Fabric Tech Onslaught
The fabric's a lightweight three-layer one using a PU membrane and, tech onslaught alert, 'a bi-component knit backer with permanent wicking function' which feels nice and comfortable against the skin and has lab-test breathability or moisture vapour transfer figures, of 30,000, right up with some of the most breathable fabrics around.
Not only does the fabric seem impressively state of the art, but all the design features and details you'd expect on a quality technical jacket are present and correct: we've already covered the wired and stiffened hood peak, you also get full adjustability all round, neat zipper garages, a handy drop-tail cut for premium butt protection and those map-sized hand-pockets are part mesh lined, so you can use them for additional venting.
The sleeves, which will be slightly longer for production jackets, roll up as well, always a good move for cooling on the go. Finally, the overall fit seems - according to our tester - 'just right' with no weird exaggerated voids or floppy bits or oddness bar the slightly too short sleeves, which are going to be modified for production. That's high praise given the way other shells have been dismissed on fit grounds... 'it made me look like a pregnant wildebeest' etc.
So while we can't yet tell you how it works out on the hill just yet, what we can say is that the first of the new breed of Alpkit waterproof shells wouldn't look out of place in the ranges of most specialist outdoor clothing brands with a mix of top-spec fabric, thorough design, all the technical features you could want in a lightweight waterproof for UK use and a neat, tailored not too tight / not too loose cut too.
Which brings us to the bit where you guess the price. Any thoughts? It's actually set to be £145, so not blindingly outright cheap, but looking like excellent value given the impressive quality of what you're getting, which to our mind is what value is all about.