Worn and tested by Trek Scotland in the Scottish Highlands whilst Multi Day Trekking through Spring to early Winter 2019.
Mention the words “Polartec Alpha Direct” and you instantly have us hooked. Having used this type of insulation in various summer and winter jackets you can be guaranteed that this is a jacket in which unrivaled breathability, comfort, and warmth is matched with a low bulk and low weight in an item designed for high activity adventures. Paired with an outer fabric of Pertex Quantum AIR, which has become a common companion for Alpha Direct, and these features are only enhanced. This combination works with the body to regulate warmth resulting in a jacket that can be worn throughout the entire day.
The Marmot Alpha 60 jacket has followed suit by producing a summer option with 60g of insulation with an overall weight of just 254g in a size medium. The Alpha Direct insulation is made from 54% Recycled Polyester, which is a great environmental approach. Pertex Quantum AIR 20 CFM Face Fabric has a 4-Way Stretch quality that offers unrestricted movement. The fabric has a larger open weave to enhance breathability, and a slightly relaxed athletic fit with Angel-Wing Movement. This meant that reaching high whilst in rocky terrain or bending over to pitch a shelter there is no riding up on the arms or back. The Alpha 60 regulates body heat very efficiently and on steep climbs in the Mulladochs, Mamores, and the Cairngorm 4000 footers (areas in which we have spent a lot of time this year) the Alpha 60 was a solid performer. For a large majority of the time this would be our primary outer being paired with just a basic merino base layer underneath. Breathability is possibly the best we have experienced from an Alpha Direct jacket although it needs to be noted that its resistance against wind and rain is not a strong point. Even with a DWR finish, anything other than very light rainfall will have the Alpha 60 soaking through rather quickly. This wasn’t much of an issue for us, as it fits almost unnoticed beneath a lightweight waterproof whilst still achieving comfortable heat regulation.
A great feature of the Alpha 60 are the two large zippered hand pockets, and a small chest pocket. These are great for storing items on the move such as a map and compass and further stamp its identity as an ‘all day’ jacket.
Elsewhere the Alpha 60 is simple in design. An adjustable hood can be worn underneath a helmet or jacket to add some warmth if there’s a slight chill, whilst elasticated hem and cuffs are an uncomplicated choice that offer comfort even when wearing extra layers. It also packs into its own pocket to be stored inside your pack although, we only found this only happened on particularly hot days and was worn more often than not.
There are a range of colours to choose from to compliment every adventurer. We received ours in Turkish Tile which is a mix of a light blue outer with bright orange insulation on the inside. This is quite a striking piece of clothing and works great for ‘being seen’ in the mountains. An especially important factor as a guide.
Although Marmot claim this to be a summer option, we’ve found ourselves using the Alpha 60 as part of our layering system right through into winter. It fits comfortably as part of this layering system and can also be worn throughout the night. Due to its breathable nature it doesn’t become a stinker! This means use whilst on extended expeditions is no problem. Whilst on the subject of smell, as we have mentioned in previous reviews regarding Polartec Alpha Direct, it can be easily washed at home using a standard setting and detergent. We believe this type of insulation even improves over time, fluffing out and become even more comfortable to wear.
With any item of clothing that is lightweight in stature signs of wear will appear sooner than later. After just over six months of heavy abuse including trips not only to the high hills but also just out with the kids for a woodland walk, mountain biking, etc, signs of wear are inevitable. Two small holes needed repairing from a snag on a branch and a light bit of abrasion is shown on the shoulder where a full pack has mostly been sat. Usually this would be a sign of concern for us but with the Alpha 60 being neither decent at protection against wind nor rainfall, a basic bit of home stitching can easily fix the issue.
The Marmot Alpha 60 is our favourite piece of clothing we have used this year. Excellent breathability and regulation of body heat makes for a comfortable time in the hills. Steep ground, forest walks, bike packing, the Alpha 60 lends itself to a multitude of high activity sports. The 60 grams of Polartec Alpha Direct insulation is perfect for summer activities whilst also lends itself well as part of a layering system for when temperatures drop. Weighing in at a mere 254 grams in a medium size this is the lightest jacket of this type we have used. Pertex Quantum AIR 20 CFM 4-Way Stretch face fabric offers excellent movement whilst ascending steep climbs or working around camp. This is not a jacket that is particularly windproof or rain resistant but much more suited to occasions where comfort and breathability are key.
Trek Scotland is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...