This innovative approach to an insulated jacket keeps the wind off but breathes brilliantly and gives you all the room you need to move
Ultralight and warm
Stretchy and stylish
Breathable and quick drying
Two zipped hand pockets
Uses recycled materials
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Jack Wolfskin Prelite Alpha Jacket: first impressions
This insulated jacket is a bit of a departure from what you might think of as a typical insulated jacket. Rather than having insulated material sandwiched between an outer and an inner layer, it has a Pertex shell to keep the wind off and an insulated lining on the arms, chest, back and neck to keep you cozy. In addition, stretchy fleece panels on the sides and under the arms keep you warm while allowing unrestricted freedom of movement when you’re scrambling or hoisting your backpack. The result is an impossibly lightweight and warm jacket that serves as an adequate outer layer on cool hikes or a mid layer in winter.
• List price: $180 / £160
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes available: Men’s S - XXL; Women’s XS - XL
• Weight: 180g / 6.3oz (women’s small)
• Materials: Shell: 100% Polyamide; Lining: 100% Polyester
• Colors: Dark sea, Black, Silver grey, Picnic green, Rose smoke, Dolphin
• Best use: Hiking
When you pull on this jacket, you’ll appreciate straight away how stylish it is, but once you get moving in it, you’ll be impressed by the warmth delivered from such a lightweight package. It’s highly breathable for sweaty activities, and despite being made using synthetic materials, it doesn't get stinky as fast as a lot of fleece. A snug hood stays up in a gale and two zipped pockets work as hand warmers or for keeping your phone close to hand. The Pertex shell resists the wind and even keeps off a light rain. Given that they’ve incorporated recycled materials into the construction, and it’s reasonably priced for its performance power, we can’t find a single thing not to like about this jacket.
Jack Wolfskin Prelite Alpha Jacket : in the field
This has quickly become my absolute favorite jacket, and not just in my outdoor wardrobe. I’ve worn it for hiking in the Arrochar Alps and along the West Island Way, sure, but I throw it on when leaving the house to get groceries and have even been known to wear it at home when it’s chilly.
Here’s how it performed:
Sizing and fit
I tested a small and it fits true to size. Sometimes a small is a little loose on me but I was delighted to see that this fits perfectly. This slim fitting design is flattering and can be layered under another jacket but has enough room to comfortably wear it over a long sleeved base layer.
Warmth and breathability
I really can’t get over how much warmth this jacket provides for how little weight it has on the scales. It’s been adequate as my outer layer for a few chill spring hikes, and lately we’ve had some pretty mild and muggy weather which meant I was able to test out its breathability and I’ve never had to take it off yet. Like any insulated jacket, I imagine that in really warm conditions it would have to come off, but for a hike where a jacket is warranted, you can sweat without getting clammy.
Weight and packability
This jacket weighs no more than an avocado so I barely notice it on (except for thinking how fabulous I look) and compared to my other insulated jackets, it packs down tiny so it would be madness not to bring it along on any backpacking trip, day hike or for traveling.
Durability and odor control
Compared to other ultralight jackets I’ve tested, this one is a bit sturdier and I expect it to hold up well to my adventures and frequent use. It’s not treated with anything for odor control as far as I can tell, but also unlike my other synthetic jackets, it hasn’t got too smelly despite weeks of wearing it (including on an unplanned trail run!) and I’ve yet to have to wash it.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.