The Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket goes way, way back over a decade. Now we have the Super Free Alpine. This carries on the kind of core essence of that original jacket while also bringing a very modern new fabric to the table, one that you could go as far as calling a game changer.
This is one of the first ever products to feature a brand new waterproof membrane from Gore-tex which is highly likely to replace the standard Gore-tex membrane that just about every outdoor enthusiast (and beyond) will have used at some point in their lives. It’s called ePE and the crux of it is that, unlike standard Gore-tex, it’s totally free from ePTFEs and PFCs, These are chemicals that have been deemed to be persistent and, in many cases, damaging to the environment.
Pros: Sustainable fabrics, excellent cut, climber-friendly details
Cons: Expensive, cuffs prevent airflow
According to Gore-tex, this new waterproof fabric, which is also 100% recycled, is just as waterproof and just as breathable as its standard membrane, but it’s also lighter and lower in volume. That means that technically it’s less resource intensive.
It feels somewhat different to normal Gore-tex. It’s softer to the touch and is thinner and less crinkly. From what we’ve seen from the ePE products that we’ve tested so far, there doesn’t seem to be a tangible difference in performance. That said, with the absence of the ecosystem-polluting chemicals that once featured in durable water repellent treatments right throughout the industry, it’s now a good idea to regularly maintain PFC-free jackets such as this one with home-treatment solutions from the likes of Nikwax and so on.
We think it’s worth highlighting the fact that Gore-tex’s hand has been somewhat forced here because environmental legislation is coming into place and consumer preferences are changing and this has meant that the use of ePTFEs, whether they’re of environmental concern or not, is going to soon become a thing of the past. Still, it’s a positive move by Gore-tex.