After testing the Alphelia on the slopes in the midst of an Austria winter season, I’d say it’s worth its steep price tag – but only if you’re after something a bit special. Beginners and once-a-year skiers can pick something simpler and cheaper, but if you’re a ski pro or just love to be out in the mountains all day, this jacket will be your winter bestie for inbound runs and backcountry escapades.
Beginners don’t need all the bells and whistles
Sizes are on the small side
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Helly Hansen Alphelia Lifaloft: first impressions
First let’s address the glaringly obvious: the Helly Hansen Alphelia Lifaloft jacket (available direct from Helly Hansen) comes with a pretty hefty price tag. For this outlay, you could buy two decent ski jackets, or five beginner-friendly basic winter jackets. So should you splurge it all on just one? I put the Alphelia through its paces to answer that very question and find out whether it really is one of the best women’s ski jackets out there.
• List price: $500 (US– although you can easily find it with massive discounts) / £480 (UK - ditto)
• Waterproof: Yes
• Sizes: XS–XXL
• Colors: Cream / Purple / Multi / Light Blue / White / Black / Navy
• Weight: 910g / 2lb
• Insulation: Primaloft
• Ski safety features: RECCO detector
• Compatibility: Designed for seasoned skiers, athletes and professionals
If you spend all day, every day out in the elements working as guide, a seasonnaire or a snow sports athlete, or if you’re just a seasoned skier who wants to invest in a great bit of kit, you’ll need something more heavyweight than your average ski jacket before you head to the mountains.
Enter Helly Hansen’s Alphelia, which is ready for whatever winter weather you chuck at it. This design is impressively waterproof and warm but still highly breathable, and lightweight enough that you can wear it all day. On test we found the Alphelia pleasingly comfortable thanks to a great cut and articulated sleeves; we reckon you’ll barely notice you’re wearing it. All the usual features we look for are present and correct in this smart piece of kit (see How to choose a ski jacket) – there’s even a clever pocket that keeps your phone warm to preserve its battery.
Helly Hansen Alphelia Lifaloft: on the hills
The Alphelia does really deliver a great level of performance – it is reliably wind and waterproof, and on test on the Austrian pistes I found that snow didn’t stand a chance against its DWR-treated shell.
It’s also insulated enough to keep you cozy in sub-zero temperatures, but is still impressively breathable when you start working up a sweat by hitting up jumps or tackling challenging off-piste (see also: Shell vs insulated ski jacket: which should you choose?).
And this jacket sports all the extras a good ski jacket should, including a detachable, helmet-compatible hood, a rucksack-compatible fit and well-placed pockets. It also has a built-in RECCO reflector (a small, electronic transponder that helps make you more findable in case of avalanche or accident). And did we mention that phone-battery-preserving pocket?
One final point, though: it sizes a little small, so I would recommend trying a size larger than your usual fit, to make sure you can wear a mid layer under the Alphelia on really cold days.
An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.