Insulated waterproof jackets have long been out of favour over the years for a number of reasons. They don’t offer the flexibility of an insulating layering system, and too often it felt like wrapping yourself up in a duvet and popping a plastic bag over the top. In short, they were too warm and not breathable enough for the UK. But for the last couple of winters we’ve seen a few more being promoted. As material technology has improved (ie become more breathable) they’ve become valid again.
The Axion Neo Alpha (a Highly commended award winner in the TGO Awards) is easily one of the best examples of an insulated waterproof. Much of this is down to its combination of Polartec Neoshell waterproof material, an air permeable fabric that has proven to be very breathable, which used over 100g Polartec Alpha, their breathable insulating material. Montane describe it as the ‘world’s most breathable waterproof insulated jackets’, which it just could be. Compared with similar jackets, including their own, admittedly £120-cheaper Minimus Hybrid Jacket, it is noticeably less clammy. Don’t get me wrong, this is a winter jacket – I’ve worn this all winter so far in temperatures below zero it has regulated temperatures very well. As a result I don’t think it is too hot for UK temperatures. It feels bullet proof in fact – this stood up against what December and most of January threw at it.
The jacket itself is well-tailored and comfortable. The sleeves are long and I really like the stiffened cuffs. The hood also fits perfectly and moves well with the head – essential in a winter mountain jacket. It zips up to the nose and tightens without dragging the hood down. There are two huge pockets with long zips, above a hip belt, that is also important in the blustery weather. There’s a very small sleeve pocket too. Inside, there are another two pockets and a removable snow skirt. Whether you’ll be adding it to your wardrobe probably depends on the frequency you’re out in the snowy mountains. It does come at a price (although it’s worth considering the Minimum Hybrid Jacket, but this is an excellent winter mountain jacket and it’s changed my mind entirely about insulated waterproofs.
Reviewed by Daniel Neilson