Lowe Alpine Flash Jacket
The Flash Jacket has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best waterproof jackets for 2023.
After reading all the rave reviews from this site (and from Backpacker magazine), I purchased this jacket which seemed to have a lot of good features: articulated elbows, full pitzips, all zippers equipped with double flaps and/or rain gutters, reinforced shoulders and elbows, a Napoleon pocket, wire stiffener in brim, and good looking to boot.
However, where my jacket failed was in the most critical area: Waterproofness. I wore it on three occasions in moderate snow and rain while backpacking. Each time, I noticed water on the inside of the jacket. I thought that my sweat was causing this condensation. So I decided to put the jacket to a test. I hung my jacket in the shower, making sure no water could drip into the pockets or pitzips. After dousing the jacket for 5 minutes, sure enough, the jacket had wetted out and was leaking water. I couldn't believe that the jacket had had its DWR wear out so soon, so I sent the jacket back to the store where I had purchased it, which in turn sent it back to Lowe Alpine. After about a month I received the news that my jacket had indeed been leaking and that Lowe Alpine had replaced it. I eagerly went to pick up my replacement jacket, only to find out that Lowe Alpine had sent a '95 model instead. The older model had a different hood, no Napoleon pocket, different slash pockets, and it was a different color. After waiting for so long to get my jacket back, I was tempted to just accept it. Bur after some consideration, I figured, "This isn't the jacket I paid for. Why should I have to accept a different jacket than what I bought?" So I returned it. It seems that Lowe Alpine had run out of Alpine Flashes this year and that if I waited till September '98, I could get a new one. Yeah, right, and miss out on some great backpacking trips this summer?!
Aside from this experience with Lowe Alpine, I'm sure that their products are good and so on, but every customer is important and wants to be treated with fairness and courtesy. I did not feel I received such treatment with Lowe Alpine. I called their offices 4 times, being put on hold and never actually talking to someone who could help.
As it turned out, I went out and purchased a 3-ply Goretex jacket.
Fabric: Triple Point Ceramic 1200 and 1600
Price Paid: $190 Can (usually $299 U.S.)
I got an amazing deal on this jacket, so I thought I'd take a chance. WOW! I love this one. The extra long pit zips keep me cool, the full mesh lining breathes far better than taslan linings, the zippers never snag, and the shell is tough as nails. I now leave my North Face Mtn. Light in the closet and wear this shell. It is a little on the heavy side, but it is a small price to pay. The hood rolls and stows nicely under its own velcro flap, the cuff velcro is easy to handle in mittens, and it is completely water tight. The hood on my XL can easlily accomodate a helmet, and the body is sized right for layering with a down liner. There is even a Nalgene-sized water bottle pocket on the inside (though I've never used it). Since it is a little heavier, this shell is better suited to cold weather travel, get something lighter for the summer. Overall, I highly recommend this jacket, save the $, and forget about the Mountain Light!
Fabric: ripstop nylon w/ Triple Point Ceramic
Fill: Full Mesh Lining
Price Paid: $280 retail, $65 sale
This jacket has countless small details that make it a great piece of gear. Obviously, it was designed by people that use these jackets or at least listen carefully to those that do. Lots of ventilation options and fit adjustments. There is even an opening at the back botton hem to remove snow or turn the jacket inside out for repairs, etc. All top notch quality components and careful assembly. Fit might run just a little small but sleeves are nice and long. The fact that I picked it up brand new on Ebay for $83 makes it the best deal I have ever gotten on outdoor gear.
Fabric: Triple Point
Price Paid: $83 (Ebay)
I was astonished at the difference between this jacket and my old Berhaus Gore-tex. It takes an age to wet out, and never lets water inside. It's warm, but controllable with the pit zips and venting pockets. The hood is very good with a nice soft lining to the face guard, but I'm not sure what Lowe mean by 'swivel hood' because it doesn't!
The fit is spot on for climbing - you can place both hands above your head with no pull on the wrists. The snow flap, and internal bottle pocket are nice touches.
A bit on the heavy side for non-winter conditions.
Fabric: Triple Point Ceramic
Price Paid: �200
this jacket kicks, i've owned tnf light, guide the marmot thunder light and an rei switch back and i can tell you the flash is the best out of them all! the hood is the best for coverage and usefullness and can also be stowed in the collar. after being caught in a downpour at 9000 ft in the desolation widerness area near tahoe ca. not a drop leaked through, and i'm talking about during a hasty retreat from a dangerous situation, and after all isn't that what it's all about?
Fabric: triple pt ceramic
Price Paid: $240
I got this jacket in the middle of a Minnesota winter, and combined with a 300 wt fleece, I was just toasty in -20 F weather. This spring I had a chance to test its water-repellent propterties, and it performed beautifully. It's light, well designed and tough. My only gripe is that the inside pocket has drawstring closure, which just doesn't close all that well. However, I have yet to have anything fall out of it.
Fabric: Triple Point Ceramic 1200/1600
Price Paid: $175 US (sale)
Superb jacket. I used a fleece jacket underneath it when I was in the Carstensz region of Irian Jaya and it was great. Kept me warm and dry. I wish it had the zip in for the Lowe's fleece jacket. I got a great bargain from the Sierra Trading Post of Wyoming.
Fabric: Tripe Point Ceramin 1600 and 1200
Price Paid: $149
I have had the jacket for three months and the water repellency, particularly in the areas with tpc 1200, is beginning to fail in heavy rains. This jacket requires a TX Direct treatment already! Besides that, I recommend the flash especially if it can be found at a sale price under $200. 10/21/96.
Fabric: triple pt. ceramic 1600/1200
Price Paid: $170 (sale)
This jacket is amazing. I was a bit skeptical that it wasn't gore-tex, but it has stood up to everything I've thrown at it. Everyone I've spoken to says that Lowe is very generous if you ever have any problems.
Fabric: Triple Point Ceramic
Price Paid: $300
This jacket is exceptional. It stands up beautifully in the heaviest of rains, and leaves your body free of persperation.
Fabric: 1600 Triple Point Ceramic
Price Paid: $285 srp
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