Dynafit Free Alpha Direct - First Impressions
I was recently lucky enough to be given one of the new Free Alpha Direct jackets from Dynafit to put through its paces, and thought it warranted sharing my initial experience of it and some info on it’s tech and construction.
The Free Alpha is a hybrid jacket with a polyamide outer, primarily Polartec Alpha insulation panels in the main body areas and on the outer of the arms, and throughout the hood, with inserts in the underarm and waist band areas being Polartec Powergrid. The cuffs and hem are finished off with an elastic material, so no need for velcro closures or tabs, helping keep the weight down to a very respectable 310g (size M). The Polartec Alpha does a brilliant job of shifting excess moisture away when working hard, moving sweat away at the vapour stage rather than waiting until you’re already damp, but with a doubled up surface area traps heat in when needed.
Polartec Alpha Direct, and Powergrid fabrics, 15% Elastane outer
This jacket blurs the boundaries somewhat between a synthetic insulation jacket, fleece, and a softshell...I tested it on an early November morning walk with MAM’s Matt and Ro, up into the Howgills (the backyard) a cool day at around 8-9 degrees, but with an increasing and significant wind chill as we ascended Green Bell. I purposely wore a single base layer, with a Dynafit Alpine Pro Tee to see how well the jacket would perform. I took a couple of other layers, and a Primaloft jacket just in case, but didn’t need any additional layers all day. On the ascent, when working moderately hard,the jacket surpassed all my expectations...I was never too hot/never too cold...I could see the hybrid nature of the fabrics working well together to keep my core warm, whilst allowing good ventilation and moisture management all round. The only time I was aware that the insulation didn’t fully encapsulate me was on the descent, where I was obviously not working hard...and with a strong south westerly hitting me side on, I began to feel a very slight chill where there was less insulation on the side panels, but nothing like enough to make me put another layer on, and as soon as we dropped off the tops I was ‘just right’ again.
The hybrid panel construction, working to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable.
Things I liked about this jacket (apart from the colour!)...first off, how light it is...you barely know you’re wearing it, and the Alpha Direct makes for a small packed size relative to warmth...coming in at approx. 20cm long with a 30cm circumference uncompressed. Coupled by how well it regulates your temperature, keeping you at an optimum throughout the day, with the fully Polartec Alpha lined hood, and a large baffle that zips right up to keep heat in and the cold and wind out, and with the outer being 15% elastane, making for a very dexterous jacket, easy to move in, and well suited to high levels of activity.
A high baffle, and fully lined hood help keep the ‘snug’ in
I would say it performs best when you’re active (it is technically recommended for ski touring) and if you were going to be standing around for any length of time on a cooler day, you’d need a warm layer, but if used for what it was designed for I’ve (so far) found it to excel. I’ll revisit this jacket when I’ve used it in further conditions and activities, but as an initial impression I have to say it’s an impressive jacket that delivers above expectations.
All these features tick a lot of boxes for me, and put it right up there as the jacket I’ll be reaching for in the coming months.