The Alpha Direct jacket aims to be a do-it-all jacket for alpine adventures with a Pertex Microlight outer and Polartec Alpha Direct insulation.
Polartec's comeback is looking ever stronger and the new Alpha Direct insulation used in this Rab jacket is their latest innovation. Put simply they've taken the highly breathable Alpha insulation and removed the liner so you get what feels like a waffle fleece directly against your skin.
This certainly feels cosy - much like a fleece does, and has great warmth to weight but does removing the liner equal better breathability on the move?
In a nutshell, yes, even though the Alpha Direct is warmer than your average on the move mid layer and doesn't have stretch panels to dissipate excess heat. This ensures it isn't consigned to your pack until you stop for a break or reach camp making it a properly versatile mountain mid-layer. It's a softshell wind breaker, an on the move layer for hiking, climbing, skiing or walking the dog in cold weather and a great camp and belay companion.
The fit of the jacket is described as slim but we sit between a medium and large and in this case the large on test was quite roomy inside, we'd have liked it to be a trimmer fit for technical use but then it might have needed stretch panels.
The two hand warmer pockets are cavernous and well positioned, being accessible when wearing a pack. The hood is comfortable, fits well on its own or under a helmet and moves with your head (which is always handy).
Overall, a versatile mid-layer that'll be on our kit list for many months and possibly years to come.