Lowe Alpine Warm Zone Ninja
Weight: 360 grammes
pile Warm Zone fabric with Lycra, close-fitting hood, one
zipped chest pocket, full-length front zipper with internal
flap, bound cuffs with thumb loops and suede palm, bound
Great fit, Spiderman looks, light and effective.
Suede palm panels get wet and stay wet.
The Concept Once upon a time Lowe Alpine's Ninja Hoody was a
trim-cut technical fleece with a hood, the new version uses Lowe's
Warm Zone to update the concept and produce a close-fitting
technical, lightweight mid-layer for active use.
Warm Zone is Lowe's cunning technology that uses thicker areas of
fabric for more insulation in areas where your body needs to be kept
warm and thinner ones in less crucial places. Raised fabric blocks
increase insulation without upping weight and the garment is mapped
to your body according to need.
Features It's a simple, close-fititng design with a neat
stretch hood, full-length zip and a drop tail for close butt
protection and convenience with a harness. Like the old Ninja Hoody,
the new one has extended cuffs with thumb holes and a suede leather
palm for grip and wear resistance. Lycra in the fabric mix makes the
whole thing nice and stretchy, mmm....
In Action The original Warm Zone kits was hideous - in retail
terms it had the 'hanger appeal' of a rotting turnip, so much so that
Lowe Alpine actually asked us to treat it as a work in progress. This
year the company has completely reworked the Warm Zone fabric so that
it looks, well, actually quite sexy.
Maybe sexy's the wrong word. The name that crops up every time is
'Spiderman', yep, it's that distinctive and that close fitting,
figure-hugging. That means you need a certain amount of nerve and a
flat stomach to venture out in the NH in the first place, but we grew
to love the Hollywood looks.
good news is that the embarassment is worth it. This is one of the
best lightweight mid-layers we've used. The close fit is superb for
layering under trim-fitting technical shells and works well as an
efficicent insulation layer. It's hard to compare it directly with,
say, a 100-weight microfleece, but the Warm Zone always felt warmer
than you expected.
In truth its nearest rival is probably Polartec's Powerstretch and
it feels similarly clingy and warm and wicks to about the same level.
It's not quite as soft and luxurious, but we suspect in the long term
it'll be more durable. Wind resistance is better than fleece, but not
as good as something like Schoeller, so tick the 'okay' box for that
one. One downside is that it does seem to hold water more than fleece
thanks to a denser weave perhaps.
We loved the hood, it's great under a helmet or simply pulled on
for rest stops. Looks mean too, ahem... We were less convinced by the
cuffs with their thumb-holes. Not so much the concept as the suede
palms - the thumb holes keep your sleeves from riding up and slip
easily into most gloves for a gapless wrist. They're also good for
scrambling on days when you want your fingers out there on the rock,
but still need some hand insulation. The suede, while comfy and
hardwearing, gets wet and dries relatively slowly. A synthetic or
treated alternative might be a better option.