Selecting a mid-layer is often tricky and this decision was even harder for the TGO Challenge. The weather can vary so much across northern Scotland over a 2 week period, it might snow one day and be 20C+ the next.
I tend to get quite hot and sweaty so I wanted something fast drying and highly wicking. A bonus would be some wind protection in the torso so that it could be worn as an outer layer too.
Polartec Alpha is one of the top choices for packable, highly breathable, moisture wicking insulation. Alpha was designed by Polartec for the US special force so that their operatives could stay warm and dry when on the move and also when they stopped. Alpha is all about being warm and dry rather than warm and damp which is what many insulation ends up delivering. Damp air feels much colder, we have all felt that cold clammy feeling when stopped after working hard up hill.
The Switch Jacket uses Polartec Alpha in the torso sandwiched between a ripstop nylon shell and Pontetorto Tecnopile 187 fleece for the arms, shoulders and sides of the jacket.
The Switch jacket is comfortable over a short sleeve baselayer or T-shirt because the Pontetorto fleece feels so soft against the skin. I wouldn’t want to wear this jacket with no base layer as the smooth nylon inner lining in the torso protecting the Alpha would feel a bit sticky once you got sweaty.
There is plenty of stretch so you can move freely plus it could accommodate an extra layer underneath on a cooler day.
I found the breathability and wicking allowed me to keep the Switch Jacket on for longer during changeable conditions without overheating. When you are covering longer distances that means less time stopping to take off and put on layers. The wind resistant fabric in the body allowed for great heat regulation. There was no need for an extra windshell most of the time and the excess heat removed from the arms and sides keeping me dry.
When I wasn’t using the Switch is packs into one of the hand pockets which is handy.
The Switch Jacket has become one of my key items of clothing for Spring and Summer now this year. I’ve found it perfectly suited to the changeable and damp Scottish climate.