Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Excellent material balances weather resistance with breathability.
Cons: Hand pockets get covered by pack and harness, small chest pocket, not long enough for climbing, no hood option.
Best Uses: It's OK for climbing
The Alpine guide is a midweight non-membrane climbing softshell for moderate conditions. The jacket uses the same high performance Polartec Power Shield fabric found on the company's Alpine Guide Pant-- it's highly durable and balances wind and water resistance with breathability. This jacket performs well, but misses several key features: the handwarmer pockets get covered by a backpack's waistbelt and harness, the single chest pocket is on the small side, and there's no hood option. For climbing, which is what this jacket is designed for, our testers also perfer softshells that are cut longer becuase they stay tucked under a harness and pack better.
Check out our full Softshell Jacket Review to see how this compares to the other jackets tested.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The best part of the Alpine Guide Jacket is the material. Polartec Power Shield is an incredibly comfortable softshell material that balances stretch with breathabilty and weather resistance in an Olympic caliber fashion. This is one of the best softshell materials we've tested and we love it both on this jacket and on the company's newly revised Alpine Guide pant, and on products from other companies.
Unfortunately, this jacket misses numerous key features that are, in our opinion, essential for climbing. There is no hood option, both hand warmer pockets get covered by a backpack's hipbelt and harness (don't be fooled by the copy on Patagonia's website), and the single chest pocket is one of the smallest found on any softshell we've tested. Furthermore, the jacket is cut to end just below the waist. More successful climbing shells are longer, stay tucked into a harness better, and are warmer. Though the material is great, updating this jacket with more technical features and a longer cut would greatly benefit climbers.
We recommend going with a cheaper shell like the Patagonia Adze if you're on a budget and don't need techy climbng features. Consider the Patagonia Simple Guide if you want better climbing performance and value. Ssee our Softshell Jacket Review for a breakdown of all the jackets tested.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 15, 2013
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