Men’s Alpkit Balance jacket

Walk rating

23 November 2017

Price: £175

+ This is a lightweight and versatile waterproof shell from the increasingly highly-regarded outdoor brand Alpkit. Considerable thought has gone into the design and cut, which is very good indeed – trim fitting yet unrestrictive, with a decent hood that boasts three-point adjustment and a wired peak. You also get two large, well-placed hand pockets that accommodate an OS map and have water-resistant zips. The main zip is backed with an internal storm flap and has a soft chin guard. Cuffs are shaped to sit over the back of the hand and are partially adjustable, and there are hem drawcords to pull the jacket in at the hips if needed. The lightweight 3-layer waterproof fabric is Alpkit’s own, but in terms of waterproofing and breathability, the stats compare very favourably to the best membranes like Gore-Tex, eVent or Polartec Neoshell. On test we found it shrugged off wind and rain, but didn’t feel particularly clammy or sweaty – certainly no more so than other hard shell jackets. 

- There’s little to fault here, especially at this price. The jacket lacks pit zips, although breathability is so good that this hardly matters – particularly since the pockets are mesh-backed, offering some additional cooling if needed. We would have welcomed an internal secure pocket though. And although the cuffs have a Velcro tab they are also partially elasticated, which doesn’t work so well with thick gloves. 

VERDICT: A nicely designed lightweight, breathable shell with a good hood, great cut and outstanding all-round build quality that stands up against jackets twice this price. Given Alpkit’s current canny distribution model, you’re unlikely to find this at a price below the RRP, but even at the full £175 you’re getting a very good jacket for your money.