UKC

Alpkit Filoment Review

© Rob Greenwood - UKC

Rob Greenwood, UKC wearing the Alpkit Filoment Jacket  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
Alex Lowe famously said “the best climber is the one having the most fun”. Over the years I have come to agree with this statement, but would – were I to have known Alex personally – have suggested one small and slightly less catchy amendment: “the warmest climber is the one having the most fun (probably because they’re climbing the best)”.  Maybe I’ve ruined the sentiments of the original somewhat, but there is something to it - being cold is miserable…

I’ve always opted for having the largest jacket available, as a result I was somewhat unsure as to exactly what to expect from the Filoment (or quite how to use it). Micro-baffle down jackets seem to have become popular in recent years and, in all honesty, I was a little cynical about their actual purpose/use - not to mention their performance outside of looking outdoorsy down the pub.

The Filoment is probably best described – and perhaps used - as a super-warm, super-light, windproof fleece. As such it is actually quite a versatile piece and definitely became my go-to jacket to throw on and keep on between routes, attempts on boulder problems and walks down to the shops to buy milk. It’s an easy jacket to wear insofar as it’s light, fitted and snug; furthermore, it packs a lot of warmth in for its small size.

As with all Alpkit pieces, it’s been lovingly designed and sourced to bring a quality piece to the masses at a very reasonable price - £99. The jacket features 131g (sz. Large) 650+ fill (90/10) duck down that has been tested and verified by the International Down and Feather Beaurau. Whilst this isn’t necessarily the highest quality down available, it doesn’t have to be – it is perfectly matched for its intended use and helps keep the jacket to an affordable price. Due to the jacket’s fitted nature it keeps the heat close to your body, and this is the key difference between the Filoment and a larger duvet such as Alpkit’s Filo which is primarily designed to stop the heat from getting out. It was at this moment that the jacket’s purpose became apparent: they’re not just fashion pieces after all…

Rob Greenwood wearing the Alpkit Filoment Jacket on Captain Hook, Stanage Plantation  © Katy Whittaker
Rob Greenwood wearing the Alpkit Filoment Jacket on Captain Hook, Stanage Plantation
© Katy Whittaker

Whilst the micro baffles look good, functionally I wasn’t entirely convinced by their benefits: movement around the elbows was great and the lift from the waist was minimal, but I would attribute this more to the design/cut than I would the size of the baffles. Features such as the lyrcra cuffs around the wrists + base of the jacket were simple and effective, no need to fasten up any velcro – this is very much a pull-on and go piece. In terms of fit the jacket has quite a ‘snug’ feel, meaning that the large tested felt a little on the smaller side of expectation. Were I to have ordered the jacket I would probably have gone for a medium, but in retrospect that would probably have been too small – something worth bearing in mind whilst ordering online.

I am always a little paranoid about wear and tear with down jackets, all it takes is a small hole and you’re lovely warm jacket is…well…less lovely and less warm… That said, I decided to test this jacket hard by using it on both gritstone routes/boulder problems – this is enough to test the abrasion resistance of even the roughest tweed. The result: it’s held up well. Several months down the line there is no sign of abrasion shy of a few stains from blood, sweat and tears (maybe some coffee too). Washing it was less of a problem than with larger duvets simply because drying was so much quicker/easier.

Alpkit Filoment Review - Cuff Close-up  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
The lycra cuffs/hem helped keep heat where it was needed most - in the jacket
Alpkit Filoment Review - Baffle Close-up  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
A close-up of the mico-baffles that feature throughout the jacket


The only negatives I could think of were that an opportunity was lost to make the chest pocket reversible, creating a stuff-sac for the jacket. I use these ‘micro-belay’ jackets on multi-pitch trad routes all the time and this feature would have been a real benefit, using one of the Airlok Stuffsacks is suggested by Alpkit but I question whether that would have been necessary with a few design modifications.

What Alpkit say about the Filoment:
 

Alpkit Filoment Jacket  © Alpkit
Its distinctive look comes from its narrow down filled baffles, it looks good, it feels good but Filoment isn’t designed to be a catwalk item. The baffles become narrower around the elbow and help retain down in this area of articulation. As you lift your arms above your head to place a nut its not going to expose your belly button! It is an active, functional cut made to extend beyond your waist, over your hips with a long back length.

Filoment is not meant to be a replacement for your trusty Filo in cold weather, this class of jacket is much lighter and more fitted. Think of it more like a lightweight, windproof fleece, something you can throw on over a base layer or a t-shirt. The lightweight 20 denier polyester is down-proof and provides protection from the wind. It also has a light DWR coating helping to prevent dirt and moisture absorption. 

Soft and quiet to the touch, it is a real alternative to the traditional fleece jacket. Its low bulk packs down much smaller than a fleece, Filoment will easily stow away into a 1 litre Airlok dry bag, offering protection for lightweight adventure athletes on a mission.

The external breast pocket is big enough to stash your phone, gps or wallet in without having to undo your main zip and lose all that precious warm air! A neoprene hem and a snug collar also help trap air when you are on the move.


Alpkit Filoment Review - Zip Close-up  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
Overall:

A super-light, super-warm alternative to a fleece, perfect for putting on between routes/boulder problems and ideal as a multi-pitch belay jacket on trad climbs in Spring/Autumn. Original skepticism aside it does also make you look fantastically outdoorsy down the pub too…

 

Rob Greenwood - UKC's advertising manager, eater of fried eggs and climber of 8a routes.  © Rob Greenwood collection
Rob Greenwood - UKC's advertising manager, eater of fried eggs and climber of 8a routes.
© Rob Greenwood collection
About the Author:

Rob Greenwood is the Advertising Manager at UKClimbing.com.

He's a passionate climber, hot yoga addict and eater of vegetarian food. He has done more UK trad routes than he's had roast dinners (and that's got nothing to do with the vegetarianism).

Aside from UK trad, he's dabbled with alpine climbing, Scottish winter, Himalayan climbing and more recently Peak limestone sport climbing.

He keeps an occasional blog about his adventures here: Rob Greenwood Climbing



For more information visit Alpkit

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9 Feb, 2015
Nice to see a review. I'd been wondering about giving the jacket or the vest a go. Saw the vest in the flesh yesterday but stopped short of bothering the women wearing it for a closer look at it. Going from what I saw it's pretty similar in weight/size to the Patagonia nano stuff. I think I'll buy the Rab microlight vest rather than the Filoment vest. If I didn't already have a Patagonia nano puff jacket I might have gone for a Filoment, especially if both were full price.
9 Feb, 2015
Yesterday was a baltic day in North Yorkshire. Intermittent mist, very very windy. Very hard to stay warm whilst on the boulders. I'm quite keen to get a new down jacket of some description, but need something that is easy to get on and off between attempts on problems and, more importantly, is very very warm! It's a little unclear from the review whether Rob used this exclusively as his warm layer, with no other jacket, and whether he managed to get out in any particularly full on conditions. Rob, would a Filoment type jacket make an aqedquate substitute to the traditional enormous duvet jacket for bouldering on a very very cold and windy day?
I tended to use the Filoment in conjunction with a larger duvet jacket. The recent conditions we've had in the Peak/Yorkshire have been quite a solid test, being that it's been both cold and rather unpleasantly windy. I'm sure that the Filoment would do the trick as a lightweight alternative throughout cool Spring/Autumn evenings, but certainly not when it gets as cold as it's been lately. Hope that's of help! Rob
9 Feb, 2015
Nice review Rob and wise suggestion on doubling up when really cold with a large jacket for in between attempts and for coffee! I find leggings under my trousers great in this weather too, ron hills particularly durable. Anyway, good review and all the best with the new job. Mike
9 Feb, 2015
Cheers Rob
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