'VauDe's take on Polartec's Alpha insulation is a cracking jacket on the move, particularly if you're someone who goes hard and runs hot'
Outdoors Magic: Super breathable, dries fast, stretchy with a close fit, neat hood, harness-friendly pockets, works as mid or outer layer, light, packable. Eco credentials.
Outdoors Tragic: Not sure the side stretch fleece panels add much.
Outdoors Grabbit? Polartec's Alpha insulation is brilliant stuff on the move in cold conditions particularly when - as here - it's mixed with very breathable fabrics. Add in a neat, close, efficient fit, a head-hugging hood and stretch fabrics that help with mobility and you get a jacket that's great on the move in cold conditions, but keeps you warm at a stop too. On top of that, it's breathable enough to work as mid-layer when needed. Our only major quibble is with the stretch fleece side panels, which reduce warmth slightly and can feel cold in windier conditions. A great jacket for use on the move, stationary warmth takes second place though.
VauDe Bormio Jacket Ratings
Outright Warmth [rating score="2"]
Packability [rating score="3.5"]
Damp-proofing [rating score="3"]
Overall: [rating score="4"]
Breathable thermal layer for cold conditions / Polartec Alpha insulation / Performance Stretch inner and outer polyamide fabrics / stretch polyamide/elastane inserts at sides of trunk /twin Napoleon-style chest pockets / stretch cuffs and drawcord-adjustable hem / insulated, adjustable hood / packs into inside mesh pocket /
Full Review Below
VauDe Bormio Jacket - The Fill
When Polartec launched Alpha, it sold it as a type of 'puffy' insulation. In fact it's more like a pile fleece layer between two wind-resistant, breathable fabrics. More about it in our recent look at the technology.
What you really need to know is that while both down and down-like synthetic insulation's don't do much for breathability making even the best of them somewhat sweaty on the move, Alpha is far better at moving both vapour and moisture in liquid form outwards.
It also allows brands to choose highly-breathable, wind resistant rather than fully windproof fabrics to sandwich it, which again helps to improve the breathability. Alpha Direct, as used by Rab this year, takes things a step further by removing the liner fabric altogether.
Overall, that means it's far better on the move than more traditional insulation systems, less sweaty, faster drying and more comfortable all round, while still being decent when stopped.
VauDe Bormio Jacket - Performance
With its blue fabric and colour-contrasting green zips and lining, the Bormio looks ever so, well, 'alpine' and continental. That said, we found it worked fine in the UK too, so don't assume it's an alps-only option.
The fit is neat and athletic with a nice stretchiness to the fabric, no problems with mobility. We like the pack-friendly chest pockets, the elasticated hem and close-fitting, elasticated cuffs. No problems with zips or fasteners either and the close-fitting hood fits neatly and is adjustable to move with your head.
The jacket's not as warm as down or synthetic down pieces, but it's designed to be used on the move rather than as a throw-on stand-by. The fabrics have been chosen, particularly the liner one, to be as air permeable as possible plus those stretch side panels also increase venting and reduce the overall insulation effect.
Cool And Comfortable
The end result, we found, was that we could wear the Bormio as an insulated outer layer in cold, dry conditions and still stay comfortable and cool even when working hard. No boil-in-the-bag sweat-ups or clamminess when we stopped. In windy conditions you do sometimes notice those fleece panels, but if you run hot, it's rarely a problem given the placement.
For short stops we found the jacket worked fine, again no clamminess, but for longer pauses, in cold conditions you may need to layer up. The same's true in rain, though the jacket works well as a warm mid-layer as well as an outer layer in its own right.
If you need to stow it away, it packs down into the inside pocket and is surprisingly small packing too.
VauDe Bormio Jacket - Verdict
If you're expecting down-style instant heat you're in for a disappointment, what the Bormio - and Polartec Alpha generally - is all about, is being warm, but still comfortable on the move in cold conditions.
'A great choice if you move fast and run hot. Less so if you struggle to stay warm.'
The neat efficient fit and the combination of fast-wicking and drying insulation and highly-breathable, ecologically sound fabrics, means the jacket stays comfortable and non-clammy even when you're going quite hard.
That's also helped by the under-arm stretch fleece panels which have a noticeable effect, particularly when things get cold and windy. You could happily use the jacket for anything from winter hill-walking through to mountaineering, maybe even biking in really cool conditions.
You may, however, need to back it up with a more effective insulator for longer stops and accept that a shell jacket may be needed when things get gnarly. A great choice if you move fast and run hot. Less so if you struggle to stay warm.