Reviewers Paid: $153.00
made from 100% Alpaca fiber
8-12 oz, depending on size
Made in the USA / We knit our fabrics in our own North Carolina facility. Our garments are constructed in various sewing facilities located in the Southeast.
Alpaca is an incredible insulator, non-stinky, and still warm when wet. I love merino as a base layer, and have found the All-Paca Fleece to be a breathable, yet super warm next layer, functional even when wet. Lightweight and luxury feeling, is like wearing a hug, especially at the end of the day or during a break!
- Warm, insulates well
- Easy to layer
- Easily stuffable in pack
- Handles well if gets a little wet
- I'd like to see a version with pockets and perhaps a cinch for the hood.
- Cinch at wrists or thumb holes would be awesome too!
Truth is I love alpaca. The animal, the fleece, visiting alpaca farms. I also love merino and have long "heard" as a spinner of these fine fleeces, that alpaca is not as durable, and should always be blended to hold its shape. I've seen homemade alpaca sweaters that soon were down to the wearer's knees.
So, I was a bit skeptical when first introduced to Appalachian Gear Company or "AppGear" because they claim to use 100% alpaca. I have a lot of alpaca socks, and a couple of hats, and wasn't sure how they'd make a durable, non-stretchy fleece that would be beneficial out on the trails.
I've never been so happy to be proven wrong! Having now worn the fleece (OK, have just now purchased my third color and one as a gift) for "everyday" wear (cuz it looks nice enough), day hiking when chilly, damp and breezy, and for a couple multi day backpacking trips, I'm a fan.
I wore over my typical merino base layer, and was comfortable hiking in temps high 40's and low 50's. When it got in the 60's, on an uphill trek, semi-scramble, it was too much and I peeled down to base (as likely would with any fleece once moving and working). I was pleased with the All-Paca's performance on a drizzly day as well–fair job at wicking away, and not feeling too heavy when wet. When changed out at night, it was mostly dried out by morning.
Another recent trip was more base camp (not exactly car camping but short hike in to site), and sunny and warm by day, extra layers not needed for hiking. Night got down to around 40 and just touching 30's, and I used the All-Paca fleece as a sleep layer, felt great, was just enough, and the softness felt a bit like a luxury item-wearable hugs!
One thing different from a more traditional fleece that I would love to see Appalachian Gear Company evolve would be to have pockets for handwarming, and a cinch for the hood. I do not have long arms, and found the sleeves long enough to just about cover my hands for warmth, and would love to see a thumb hole, maybe foldover at the wrist also.
These are not cheap, but so far seem to be durable, and I'd consider quality gear. Trying out their bag liner next, stay tuned!
I've now worn around the local hikes, and on two multiday trips to Baxter State Park; look forward to testing even further soon in some white powder situations!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $153