Lowe Alpine Peak Jacket - First Look

A 400-gramme alpine shell with all the trimmings for £120 - too good to be true?

Posted: 19 June 2008
by Jon

Lowe Alpine Peak Jacket- First Look


Price: £120 SRP

Weight: 410 grammes (medium)

Features: Lightweight alpine jacket made from 2.5 layer Triplepoint XC fabric, Watershed seamless shoulders, helmet-compatible Swivel Sight hood with roll-away stystem, two-way front zipper with double storm flap, adjustable Velcro cuffs, zippered vents on rear upper sleeves, two chext pockets with water resistant zipsm hem drawcord with single-handed action, inner pocket with zipper.

What's It For?

Lowe Alpine says the Peak has been developed specifically for alpine mountaineering. It's a lightweight, very technical jacket that can be carried in the pack without a big weight penalty, then thrown on over a softshell or fleece when the weather comes calling.

We can't see any particular reason why you shouldn't also use it as a lightweight, general mountain jacket particularly if you scramble or do multi-pitch mountain routes where a helmet-compatible hood comes in handy.

The Techy Bits

The key to the Peak's light weight is the new 2.5 layer Triplepoint XC fabric, which looks very similar to the material used by the likes of TNF and Montane for their lightweight shell clothing. The PU coating is protected from abrasion by a raised microgrid pattern which saves weight over a full three-ply fabric.

The rest of the Peak's features appear to have been lifted wholesale from Lowe Alpine's top-end Gore-Tex technical jackets, so you get the Swivel Sight helmet hood with its complex but effective adjustable chin-guard closure system, well thought through cuff and hem closures and finally the distinctive zipped vents a the rear of the upper arm.

How It Performs

We haven't been able to use the Peak in alpine conditions yet, the Peak District long having been through its glaciated period, but we have worn it more generally and initial impressions are positive.

First off it's very light at a genuine 410 grammes - though that's more than the 368 grames claimed - for a medium and packs down nice and small, though obvously it's not as tiny as the ultra-lightweight fast-mover jackets on the market.

Fit is good generally, long enough on us and neat but with enough room for a soft shell or fleece underneath. Most of the features work well too, we like the intermediate Velcro spot on the cuff fastener which holds the tab out of the way and stops abrasion. If you're prone to rolling up your sleeves and have beefy forearms though, check before buying as the cuff is a little narrow.

The hood is the one area where it's clear that this really has been designed for full-on alpine use. It's massive and has only a simple Velcro volume adjuster at the rear. With a hood it's spot on with the whopping great soft-lined and multi-adjustable chin guard being capable of covering pretty much your entire face below your eyes, spot on in serious hoolie conditions. If you've ever been shotblasted by spindrift, you'll appreciate how handy that is.

The Velcro chin-piece adjustment may look clunky, but it's ideal for tailoring the hood to fit your face without pressing uncomfortably on your chin. Top marks.

The pay-off is that without a helmet, the hood struggles to cope. There's not quite enough volume adjustment to cope with a naked noggin, so your head tends to swivel inside the hood. It's useable, but not ideal, so try carefully before buying,. play with the adjusters and see if you can reach an acceptable fit for your head size.

Napoleon pockets are harness friendly and take a map, but there are no handwarmer pockets if that bothers you..

Finally, breathability seemed fine to us. Not quite as good as the expensive top-end fabrics, but on a par with most of the competition and we like the easily used rear sleeve vents too, much nicer than billowing pit-zips and pack and harness friendly with it.

It's too early to say how durable the lightweight fabric will prove to be with regular use, but it doesn't feel overly fragile at any rate.

Initial Verdict

If you're looking for an affordable, well specced lightweight jacket which will be used predominately with a climbing helmet in foul conditions then this should definitely be on your shortlist. Even though it's slightly heavier than claimed, it's still respectably light and has all the features you'd expect on one of Lowe Alpine's top-end technical shells.

The one area that compromises it for general use is the hood. It's superb and protective worn with a helmet, but less assured with a bare head, so try carefully. Other than that, an excellent jacket at an incredible price.

Light, affordable, all the technical features, hood works well with a helmet.
Basic hood adjustment system means it's less effective with bare heads.

Lowe Alpine web site

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