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Montane Alpha Balance Jacket

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Montane Alpha Balance Jacket fleece jacket

A mix of a lightweight, hardwearing, stretch fleece and breathable wind resistant Polartec Alpha Direct. The placement of the Alpha fabric makes it perfect for use with a backpack.


  • Stretchy
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Durable fabrics
  • Wind resistance
  • Water repellent shoulders and chest
  • Adjustable elastic at the bottom hem
  • Pockets with venting
  • Thumb loops


  • Thin fleece fabric
  • Tight hand openings
  • Price
  • Thumb loops are placed a bit awkwardly

Fabric Performance

This jacket is the perfect companion for a backpack trek/hike. The Polartec Alpha Direct fabric provides some weather and abrasion protection for the most exposed areas. The surface fabric covering the Alpha insulation has some PU mixed into it, which seems to add some durable water repellency.

The Pontetorto fleece has a special print pattern for added abrasion resistance. This technology is similar to Polartec's Hardface fleece, except Polartec covers the entire fabric surface in a special resin. Nevertheless it seems to work to reduce pilling and snagging to some degree. 


The only problem I have found with the fabrics is the difference in heating properties. The fleece is rather thin and I have a hard time imagining a situation where I need the extra heat from the Alpha fabric but a thin fleece on the rest of the body.

The thumb loops are placed on the upper side of the inseam, which results in the sleeves effectively being twisted, making it feel a bit awkward. Other than that the thumb loops work very well and I don’t even notice them when not in use.

The hand openings are a bit tight, so don’t expect to roll the sleeves all the way up when it gets too hot. Speaking of hot, the snug fit around the wrists makes for an efficient way too keep in the heat. See the dilemma?

The best use is probably with a backpack or at high level activities in cold environments


With this jacket I’ve done some hiking light trekking with and without a pack. I have also used for riding motorcycle, where both the hood and the thumb loops work great underneath my protection. Other than that I’ve had tons of different fleece jackets and shirts. I’d probably be embarrassed to actually count them.

Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (Work associate)

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Price Historic Range: $111.99
Weight 350g
Product Details from Montane »