What I love: Cosy! Soft! Fluffy!
The Alpha Flux Jacket had me from the off. With its super-soft, comfy, insulated inner layer, this jacket could do no wrong. Nevermind its technical performance, I wasn’t going to be parted from it in my daily life, round the house, popping to the shop….is taking it to bed too far?
Where I tested it:
After a thorough test in very un-extreme conditions (around my house and while doing spot of gardening), I decided it was time for the real deal. Sea cliff trad climbing in Pembroke, with the wind and plenty of weather, offered the perfect opportunity. The Alpha Flux was exemplary in these conditions, drying fast after a couple of light showers, and offering a good degree of wind protection and warmth without ever being too sweaty.
Since then, it’s been scrambling in Snowdonia, experienced Welsh multi-pitch trad, survived the grit in the Peak, and been a faithful, toasty companion on night-nav sessions. I also took it on a bike/run/swim challenge (alright, I took it off for the swim) as an extra layer, since it was so light.
Less excitingly, but very usefully, I’ve also been wearing it on my bike commutes to work, often returning in the dark, wet and cold.
Fit and Sizing:
The Alpha Flux is definitely a snug fit, so if you’re not sure between sizes, I would go for the larger one. I got a size 12, although I’m frequently a 10, and found that a perfect fit. It means I can fit a fleece under it too, if I want to wear it as an outer layer.
For climbing, this jacket has excellent arm movement; the stretchy fabric means it is not restrictive in any way. It is cleverly designed with two outer fabrics. The more stretchy layer of ‘Thermic-lux™ stretch-fleece sewn in the under-arm side panels allows maximum range of movement. This functionality also works well around the mouth of the hood and for the thumb loops.
“The Alpha Flux is a comfortable, well fitting jacket.”
The Alpha Flux is a comfortable, well fitting jacket. Important features are the hood which fits perfectly over my helmet (hoods never do this properly, in my experience!), and the elasticated wrists with thumb loops. These features top this jacket off for me, offering extra cosiness and comfort, and stopping the wind from whistling up your sleeves.
Where to Use it:
This particular Rab Jacket works as both a mid-layer insulation piece or as an outer layer in mild weather. This spring and summer, I’ve mostly worn it as an outer layer for climbing and cycling when I need a bit of extra warmth. It is brilliant at keeping me just toasty enough, without being sweaty.
“…works as both a mid-layer insulation piece or outer layer in mild weather.”
It’s also pretty light considering it’s so warm, so it’s fast become my favourite extra layer to pack for longer runs, scrambles, climbs, walks…anything really! Generally, as a lightweight, warm layer to chuck in your bag, the Alpha Flux is perfect.
This jacket coped fine with many a rock outing, but I wouldn’t take it somewhere more extreme where it would get a real battering. It is thin, and not designed to be a durable outer protective shell.
It’s worth mentioning that it also repeatedly survived the washing machine, and it’s still fluffy on the inside!
Design and Look:
It does a good job, and yes, it looks good too! I’m not such a fan of dark, plain colours, but the bright sparks of blue and purple in the zips give the ‘Beluga’ option a little bit of pizazz. With its nice fit, and muted colours, although it’s not the most exciting, it’s actually nice to have a more understated jacket to wear in general life as well as on adventures.
There is a coral option too which has some cool colour combos going on.
I may have fallen for the fluff and the cosy thumb loops, but I must say that its technical performance did the Alpha Flux Jacket complete justice. The flexibility of this jacket, great as both a warm inner and a breathable, yet durable outer layer, is a big pro, meaning it has the biggest range of uses of any jacket I’ve owned.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s warm, but not the warmest option out there as it’s relatively thin. It is not as warm as lightweight synthetic down jacket, less durable than a soft-shell, but does the job of both far, far better than a fleece. It’s basically like a very cosy fleece, but better, as it offers more protection in terms of wind and rain.
The downside is that it’s thin and not super hard-wearing, but equally it’s not designed to be. I’d also like to see more colour options. I wasn’t convinced by the coral, and the beluga isn’t the most exciting.
Price: RRP: £140
By Ellie Fuller