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Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

Which Shell

By Alpkit
20, Jan, 2017

Whether you try to or not, sometimes you just can't avoid the wind and rain!

Whichsell

In the last year we have shot from having no waterproofs to now offering 4. So how to choose which one is right for your needs? Well one of the first things you'll need to consider is what you'll be using it for and from there you can make a call on what features/benefits you want to keep or sacrifice. So are you after something lightweight and packable, need it to be highly breathable for fast moving activities but still give you full protection against the rain. Do you need something durable and solid for going head to head with the worst of the elements. If you can't afford to be specific about your waterproofs, maybe you just need one that's going to give superb performance across a number of activities

So on to our range, what's on offer?

Gravitas.

This is for your fast and light activities, where you really want to keep weight down but retain a high level of protection against the weather. The gravitas uses a ultra lightweight 3 layer fabric, meaning it packs down really small but still offers serious waterproofness and breathability with more comfort and durability over a 2.5 layer equivalent. This makes it ideal for trail running, bike packing and on adventure races where a shell is part of your regulation starting kit. But it's also a superb travel waterproof, where you know you'll be covered when you need it. 

Nick gives the first wave of Gravitas jackets a run out in Torridon

The stats...

170gms (Men's Medium)

47 gsm 3 layer fabric, 7d nylon face fabric, PU membrane, 7d nylon tricot back, Hydrostatic head: 20,000 mm, MVTR: 30,000 g/sqm/24hrs (minimum)

Balance. 

Your all rounder. If you want just one jacket that will do the job well in most circumstances. It's not as light and packable as the Gravitas, but you'll get the extra durability when out in particularly harsh conditions or carrying a pack. What's very special about this jacket is the technical performance of the fabric.  Making it great for just getting out onto into the hills and mountains when it'd be easy to stay indoors and watch the rain drops trace a path down the window pane. From hiking, biking, scrambling to, well, just about anything in the rain. 

Connie can't contain the enjoyment of being out and taking on the elements with her Balance jacket 

The stats...

315gms (Men's medium)

92 gsm 3 layer fabric, with nylon ripstop face, PU membrane and bi-component knit backer with permanent wicking function, Hydrostatic head: 25,000 mm, MVTR: 35,000 g/sqm/24hrs

Definition.

The tough one. If you're heading up into the mountains and going to hit the foulest, wettest, windiest, snowiest, wildest weather. With a full set of features, from well positioned pockets and vent zips, large hood and functional adjusters, it means you can adapted as conditions change or your work rate varies. This is the jacket that will take whatever abuse you want to throw at it, from Scottish winter, alpine climbing to Munro bagging.

Out testing the Definition in the Alps, despite the particularly fine weather!

The stats...

490 gms (Men's medium)

145 gsm 3 layer fabric, Face: 40 D x 90 D Nylon, Backer: 20 D Nylon tricot, Bi-component PU/PTFE membrane, 20d nylon tricot, Hydrostatic head: 30,000 mm, MVTR: 20,000 g/sqm/24hrs

Pulsar

Currently just in a men's cut, the Pulsar is our 2.5 layer half zip waterproof designed for comfort. The fabric we've gone for here has more stretch and a soft "quiet" face fabric combine, barely noticeable when you are wearing them but totally functional at the same time. Great for on, or off the hill.

The stats...

250gms (Men's medium)

2.5 layer PU membrane, Hydrostatic head: 20,000 mm, MVTR: 20,000 g/sqm/24hrs

Arro. 

The windproof in our range that is simple, light and packable. Not much else to add really, other than the fabric has a non rustle, great feel and it's well cut for mobility. The DWR means it's keep light drizzle at bay, so great for taking out biking and running when you want to cut out the wind. 

Giving the Arro a good ride on a Sonder Transmitter in Torridon

The stats...

135 gms (Men's medium)

100% nylon micro ripstop, 100% windproof, DWR finish

So first up let's cover off the fabrics. We often get questions regarding our choice of fabric. "So why none of those fabrics I've heard of, they've been tried and tested, so why should I trust yours?" For starters, what's in a name anyway, other than maybe some marketing spin? Ok so you might feel like you're getting some reasurance that it's been used on so and so's jacket, it's been tested here and there, but what exactly does that mean anyway? Fundamentaly it comes down to the performance of the fabric itself, not the name. We don't just lump for any old fabric off the shelf, we work extremely closely with our factories to make sure we are getting the best fabric for the intended use so we know that it's class leading and so making sure the finished garment is of the highest specification. Well we did trap our garment designer Ronnie, garment technician Gabe, chucked them in a room with product guru Nick and didn't let them out until they gave us a straight answer. You can find what they said in this Develop post. Where do we get our waterproof fabrics from, and why?

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