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Weighing in against the big players Alpkit send their Balance jacket into the stratosphere with a cohesive blend of features.
alpkit balance jacket
Best for...
The enlightened generalist willing to look beyond the big brands
Overall Score
Excellent breathability
Not the best hood

Alpkit constantly surprise us with their ability to cut through the noise to produce gear that blends the primary concerns of the outdoor user into an end product, and the Balance jacket truly epitomises this approach.

The fit of the Balance is great, with a dropped hem that covers most of the bum and a trim cut that's just roomy enough room for layering underneath. Movement is unimpeded by the jacket (unless you've got Popeye arms) and the wicking knit backer inside is super comfy, adding a touch of luxury to an otherwise utilitarian piece of clothing.

The cuff is tapered to sit over the back of the hand and comes with a neat Velcro closure as well as being elasticated for versatility of fit and comfort.

The waterproof YKK Aquaguard zips are equipped with chunky pullers and run smoothly and snag free. The hand pockets sit perfectly clear of hipbelt and shoulder straps so are still usable with a pack on. Although there are only the two pockets they're huge, so you won't be short of storage space. Typical of other Alpkit gear the pockets are mesh lined so double up as ventilation when you exceed the phenomenal 30,000 MVTR (breathability rating).

The hood doesn't quite have the same brilliance as the rest of the jacket. The brim is wired but is just okay, when you cinch down the adjusters the material bunches and gets uncomfortable on the ears and there's a slight pull on the material when you turn your head all the way to the side. Having said that it's comfortable and spacious around the chin area and you get good peripheral vision with the hood up.

Although the jacket only weighs 315g in a medium size it still sports a thick 50d ripstop face material which is as durable as it sounds. The overall build quality is surprisingly good, if anyone still thinks of Alpkit as a low-quality brand just because they're comparably low cost then we urge you to try out some of their gear.

Balance is the perfect name for this jacket and we rarely see kit that strikes it so well. It isn't a bargain basement waterproof jacket at £185 but it is a well-priced 3-layer jacket all things considered, making it one of our top picks for 2018.

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