Most of you know how much I love 'wind-shirts' for 3-season backpacking and hiking. In my opinion no other garment in my wardrobe is as adaptable or useful. The only time I ever found my current wind-shirt lacking was when skiing in winter where the minimal features and simple hood left me feeling a bit exposed. Enter Rab's new Alpine Pull-On, a wind-shirt for winter?
The two sides of Equilibrium. The fine outer filaments on the left and the larger inner filaments on the right.
The Alpine Pull-On is constructed from Pertex Equilibrium, the same wonder fabric used on the outside of Rab's legendary Vapour-rise 'true' soft-shells. Pertex Equilibrium uses the capillary action of the 'denier gradient' fabric to draw moisture away for the inside of the fabric to the outside where it disperses and evaporates. It's also wind resistant and carries a DWR well.
Design & construction:
Fixed hood. Crucial on any jacket calling itself a 'soft-shell' in my opinion. The hood on the Alpine Pull-On is a gem. There is an 'exoskeleton' external draw-cord that neatly adjusts the volume of the 'helmet compatible' hood (perfect when switching between headwear and eyewear during the course of a day) as well as a very structured foam and wire peak that should prove very useful at keeping wind driven snow out of my face. The hood also sports regular draw-cords for really pulling in the face aperture. There is also plenty of height and volume in the neck/face area preventing instances of torture when beards get chewed up by the zips on less generous garments.
The twin A-line pockets are an improvement over the 'kangaroo' pocket on my older model Vapour Rise smock. The deep pockets are mesh lined to allow even more ventilation. One feature that is a welcome cross-over from my Vapour Rise smock is the two-way deep chest zip offering plenty of ventilation adjustment, even while wearing a pack with a sternum strap. The sleeve cuffs are simple elasticated affairs that save weight and bulk .
Everything seems first class so far. The stitching is good and the YKK zips are quality. I may 'winterise' a couple of the zip pullers with lengths of 2mm dyneema to make them a little more 'glove friendly'. My size Medium weighs in at just 250g.
Long sleeves are wonderful, especially in winter when I'll be swinging around on the end of long cross-country ski poles. Good body length with a slight drop tail seals the midriff up nicely and a slim, technical cut make this ideal for most 'active' users. Despite this being a 'shell' I went for the Medium as this fits nicely over base-layers and assists with wicking while allowing me to layer a burlier 'storm' shell over the top.
A winter wind-shirt is basically what I'll be using this for, layering it over base-layers of various thickness, especially my Ibex Indie and Patagonia R1 hoody to hopefully give me a slightly more adaptable twist on Rab's Vapour Rise concept. The Equilibrium fabric should help keep me dry, especially useful during high aerobic activities such as ski touring and snow-shoeing. I will review the Alpine Pull-On in full in the coming months.