Author Topic: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation  (Read 477 times)

clyoung

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Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« on: 17:14:50, 22/12/18 »
A number of jackets are now available that use Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation, which doesn't need a lining. So you have the outside of the jacket, typically some sort of shower proof fabric, and then the fluffy insulation next to your skin. Examples include Rab Alpha Flux, Rab Alpha Direct, Outdoor Research Ascendant and Montane Hydrogen Direct. There's even the Rab Alpha Flash where they've done away with the outside layer too, it's just the insulation.


Has anyone tried this stuff out? Despite being a generally cold person, I get very hot walking uphill and these garments claim to be put on, wear the whole day active insulation. At the moment I wear a Rab Vapour Rise Alpine Light softshell over a base layer for autumn/winter/early spring, with a fleece or thin insulated jacket between the base layer and softshell in really cold weather. That seems to work fairly well but I still overheat at times then get chilly when I stop. Would there be any advantage to one of these Alpha Direct options? Also, how durable are they - when I tried one of the Rab ones on in Go Outdoors I thought it could end up shedding fibres everywhere and wear out quickly?

richardh1905

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #1 on: 19:23:19, 22/12/18 »

Interesting. Looks like a double sided fibre pile to me. Pricey though - the Rab Alpha Flash is 100!


Have you considered a Buffalo fibre pile jacket?

forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #2 on: 11:55:01, 23/12/18 »
They look good on paper, but if you already have a VR Alpine, base layer and fleece then I'd look at upgrading my base layer - I'm assuming you have a shell jacket in your rucksack - this should take you down to around -5C decently.  I'd try to stay clear of merino wool because whilst it's fantastic at keeping you warm in winter, it 'holds' moisture which can chill you if you switch between high intensity activity and stops.


I'd be looking at a good quality synthetic baselayer, or a belay jacket to put on for breaks.   An additional active insulation layer seems to make little sense when you already have two (fleece and VR).


On the other hand you could go for a Buffalo Mountain Shirt which is designed for this sort of thing and comparatively 'cheap', but again once you're inactive you generate a -hugely- reduced amount of heat, so I'd still take a belay jacket.

NeilC

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #3 on: 14:13:11, 23/12/18 »
From the marketing and reviews it is supposed to be a more breathable, less insulated and lighter than Buffalo. And buffalo us at least as pricey albeit long lasting.


I could not wear buffalo hillwalkinghunless it's below zero. I struggle with Paramo above 5C even with the lightest polyester t-shirt I own.


Sounds interesting. I'd give it a shot if it wasn't for the price.


But there is no single garment solution to the massive difference between walking uphill and resting in cold and wind. The solution is obvious - slap on a jacket when you get to the top. Paramo do insulation to put over your shell

clyoung

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #4 on: 14:37:00, 23/12/18 »
Interesting. Looks like a double sided fibre pile to me. Pricey though - the Rab Alpha Flash is 100!


Have you considered a Buffalo fibre pile jacket?


Yes - though I don't think I've ever paid anywhere near full price for a Rab garment. Buffalo look more expensive - and heavier.

clyoung

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #5 on: 14:40:38, 23/12/18 »
They look good on paper, but if you already have a VR Alpine, base layer and fleece then I'd look at upgrading my base layer - I'm assuming you have a shell jacket in your rucksack - this should take you down to around -5C decently.  I'd try to stay clear of merino wool because whilst it's fantastic at keeping you warm in winter, it 'holds' moisture which can chill you if you switch between high intensity activity and stops.


I'd be looking at a good quality synthetic baselayer, or a belay jacket to put on for breaks.   An additional active insulation layer seems to make little sense when you already have two (fleece and VR).


On the other hand you could go for a Buffalo Mountain Shirt which is designed for this sort of thing and comparatively 'cheap', but again once you're inactive you generate a -hugely- reduced amount of heat, so I'd still take a belay jacket.


I picked up a Rab Flux baselayer top in the sale a few months back, worked fine with the VR Alpine at around 3 degrees. Think I will see how it goes in some real cold if we get some this winter. By next winter these Alpha Direct garments might have been around long enough to know how durable they'll be.


I do always carry an insulated jacket to sling over the top, the problem is if I've got quite sweaty I still feel chill. I follow the "start of cool" mantra to try to prevent that but doesn't always work.


clyoung

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #6 on: 14:44:02, 23/12/18 »
From the marketing and reviews it is supposed to be a more breathable, less insulated and lighter than Buffalo. And buffalo us at least as pricey albeit long lasting.


I could not wear buffalo hillwalkinghunless it's below zero. I struggle with Paramo above 5C even with the lightest polyester t-shirt I own.


Sounds interesting. I'd give it a shot if it wasn't for the price.


But there is no single garment solution to the massive difference between walking uphill and resting in cold and wind. The solution is obvious - slap on a jacket when you get to the top. Paramo do insulation to put over your shell


I've seen some good discounts on some of the Alpha Direct jackets - like a women's OR Ascendant hoody for 99, which is what prompted me to post.


I do always have a jacket to sling on at the top, the trouble is if I've got sweaty rather than just a bit warm I still feel chill. I liked the sound of the claims about wicking away the sweat but I think I'll give my newish Rab Flux base layer a chance to prove itself in some real cold first before buying something else.

clyoung

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #7 on: 21:41:39, 03/01/19 »
So much for waiting ;D  - I saw a Rab Alpha Flux in my size massively reduced on the Taunton Leisure site and couldn't resist. Wore it today over a thin wicking base layer (Berghaus Voyager) with temperatures about 3 or 4 degrees and did a 7km walk with a steep uphill shortly after the start. Started cool, got pretty warm walking uphill - but not sweaty. Stopped for 5-10 minutes at the top then headed down without any adjustment in layers. Felt very comfortable all the way round.


Now this was a very easy start, I may just have hit the sweet spot for temperature today and time will tell how durable the outer is with a rucksack, but the first outing seems promising. Will be interesting to try it out in more challenging conditions with different combinations of base layers and maybe soft shell/hard shell/insulating layer over the top.

NeilC

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #8 on: 08:22:21, 04/01/19 »
So much for waiting ;D  - I saw a Rab Alpha Flux in my size massively reduced on the Taunton Leisure site and couldn't resist. Wore it today over a thin wicking base layer (Berghaus Voyager) with temperatures about 3 or 4 degrees and did a 7km walk with a steep uphill shortly after the start. Started cool, got pretty warm walking uphill - but not sweaty. Stopped for 5-10 minutes at the top then headed down without any adjustment in layers. Felt very comfortable all the way round.


Now this was a very easy start, I may just have hit the sweet spot for temperature today and time will tell how durable the outer is with a rucksack, but the first outing seems promising. Will be interesting to try it out in more challenging conditions with different combinations of base layers and maybe soft shell/hard shell/insulating layer over the top.


Cool. Thanks for reporting back.


Did you notice anything special over say a fleece and windproof combo, or other softshell?

clyoung

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Re: Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation
« Reply #9 on: 09:43:45, 04/01/19 »
Yes in terms of wicking sweat away quickly when I was walking uphill so I stayed dry and didn't chill on the easier stretches. It wasn't very windy so it will be interesting to see how it fairs with my Rab Aurora or Vapourise over the top on a windy day when I need more windproofing. If it was less sweaty simply through being more breathable that will be ruined by putting something on top but if the Alpha Direct is wicking the sweat away as claimed it won't.