Macpac Pisa Polartec Alpha Fleece Jacket
Most importantly, it fits me well and feels good against my skin.
Winter base layer or lightweight midlayer
I have recommended friends have a look and try this garment out.
- Excellent fit and comfort and long enough to not pull out
- Good breathability
- Excellent layering with my existing kit
- Reasonable weight for the sizing; 470g in XXL
- Warmth-for-weight is very good
- Hip pockets are redundant if using a harness or hipbelt. Needs a pullover version for those who prefer that style.
- Fabric is slippery and rucksack shoulder straps may move, silicon dots needed IMO
- No stuff sack supplied
For the first time in an absolute age I have something from the iconic kiwi brand that actually fits and performs as the blurb says.
I just bought a Pisa Polartec Alpha Fleece Jacket top on clearance just to see what they are like.
The Pisa Polartec Hooded Jacket is a new product at a similar cost.
First things first, it fits my wide shoulders. I am an XL to XXL in most Patagonia clothing and for a long time not even an XXXL in Macpac would fit me. This XXL is true to size.
The Alpha Fleece feels good against the skin, but also slides nicely over other clothing such as Patagonia's R1 gridfleece Ninja top or any of my current LW base layers, it sticks to the Patagonia Cap4 tho.
The shell isn't windproof, but it does moderate the wind well and breathes very well.
I haven't owned the garment long enough to comment on wear resistance, but the quality of the stitching seems high and stitching is consistent in its length and tension and the zip is easy to close up and slides well without slipping position
Personally I would prefer to see a pullover version, due to ease of use and comfort under a hipbelt or climbing harness and reliability factors around zipper wear and tear, but I realise I am in a minority there, and I would really like to see matching pants to use instead of the three layers I currently need to use in winter.
I can see me using this in a few ways, as a standalone top on a mild day, over thin or heavy weight base layers when it's cooler, and as a lightweight mid-layer when it is very cold, perhaps with an additional windshirt or LW anorak/thin synthetically insulated top.
I have not calculated the Clo value, but it feels as warm as my synthetically insulated tops with 100GSM insulation that are several seasons old and warmer than my Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody which is new (I think this will be a substitute layer for the Nano Puff as it is more breathable and probably more robust), but not anywhere near as warm as my Patagonia DAS Parka that is now over 10 years old.
It layers well and the cut is such that it slides inside my Patagonia Nano Puff Bivvy easily and using an XXL Nano Bivvy over this garment in an XXL there is enough room to trap that all important free insulation of the 7 to 10mm air gap, something that a lot of garment layering doesn't do.
I have a couple of small niggles in the placement of the chest pocket, and the hip placement of the pockets is wasted as they can't be used when wearing either a climbing harness or a rucksacks hip belt. Matching breast pockets on either side of the zip would be better and weigh slightly less.
My XXL weighs 470 grams without a stuff sac. No stuff sack is provided with the garment.
I do a lot of winter skiing and ski touring in Australia's wet cold conditions, but I bought this as a possible lightweight midlayer for a deep winter trip to Canada and Alaska. Obviously I will need to do a follow-up report after the Southern ski season.
I have been a vocal critic recently of the brand's fit and sizing and of poor quality control and general second rate fabrics and fills. This is the first of what I hope is a new generation of technical clothing and a return to functional excellence
So far I have not had a chance to use it in winter conditions and I will need to do a follow-up report after the white season.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $135 AUD on clearance
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