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Topic - The enigma that is Polartec Alpha

blackreaver - on 19 May 2014
Polartec Alpha just doesn't seem to add up to me.
The only advantage to primaloft one I can see is that it allows manufacturers to use more 'breathable' fabrics on the jacket.
Many alpha jackets have a mesh back which I can see would increase breathability by a long way over conventional fabrics.
Alpha is less warm than primaloft one, so the only reason to buy alpha would be its claimed increase in breathability.

I thing that the 'controlling resistance' to breathability of a synthetic fabrics must be the outer and inner fabrics. The breathability difference between primaloft and alpha (only the actual insulation) is very small compared to the outer fabric.
Therefore the only advantage of alpha over primaloft is the ability to use more breathable outer/inner fabrics. Marmot have used pertex quantum in their isotherm jacket, therefore it has virtually the same breathability as a primaloft garment with the same outer fabrics.

My second point is about the 'air permeable' nature of synthetic insulation outer fabrics. Synthetic insulation works by trapping a warm layer of air close to your body. With alpha's supposed intended use of more air permeable fabrics, surely the wind will rob you of warm air you have trapped, therefore rendering your insulation somewhat useless!

I can see the point that polartec is trying to make, however I don't think the science behind it backs their claims up.

IMHO, the only thing an alpha jacket does a slightly better job compared to a primaloft one, is as a midlayer due to it's increased breathability beacuse of the mesh inner fabric.

N.B. I have no affiliation with Primaloft or any grudges against Polartec. I'm just a consumer who has done a little bit of research into the area and would like to get the highest performance synthetic jacket for his money!

Please prove me wrong :)
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