Helly Hansen Alphelia LIFALOFT Insulated Review
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Helly Hansen Alphelia LIFALOFT Insulated
|Price||$225.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Sporty fit, stylish, comfy baffled collar, removable hood||Warm and lofty insulation, breathable for an insulated jacket, very comfortable, good value||Relatively inexpensive yet high-quality, breathable, great mobility, great ventilation||Warm, three jackets in one, well-constructed with thoughtful features, versatile||Stylish, good hood and neckline, no frills, inexpensive|
|Cons||Not very breathable, runs small, short||Runs a little large, no insulation on collar||Non-insulating, thin shell material, not for most casual skiers||Slim fit, heavy, poor ventilation when both layers are worn||Feels cheap, not many ski-specific features, lacking in weather resistance|
|Bottom Line||A fitted, slim cut, insulated jacket oriented towards downhill and lift-accessed skiing||This reasonably priced jacket is a top insulated performer in many categories||An excellent value for a high performing technical shell that serves inbounds or in the backcountry||This jacket is versatile and has all the necessary ski features for a long day on the hill, all at a reasonable price||We got lots of compliments on this jacket's looks, but found it lacking in durability and full functionality on the slopes|
|Rating Categories||Helly Hansen Alphel...||Patagonia Insulated...||Outdoor Research Ca...||The North Face Ther...||Burton Jet Set|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Specs||Helly Hansen Alphel...||Patagonia Insulated...||Outdoor Research Ca...||The North Face Ther...||Burton Jet Set|
|Main Fabric||85% polyamide/15% elastane||75D postconsumer recycled polyester||100% Nylon||100% Nylon||Polyester, nylon|
|Insulation||70% polypropylene/30% polyester||80g Thermogreen recycled polyester; sleeves: 40g Thermogreen recycled polyester||None||100% postconsumer recycled polyester||80g Thermolite|
|Waterproofing||HELLY TECH Performance||2-layer H2No waterproof membrane||3-layer Pertex Shield||2-layer DryVent||DryRide 2L|
|Pockets||2 zippered hand, 2 zippered chest, 1 ski pass||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest, 1 zippered internal stash, 1 internal drop-in||2 zippered chest, 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered arm, 1 internal mesh, 1 internal zippered chest||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest, 1 zippered sleeve, 1 internal goggle Liner: 2 zippered hand||2 zippered hand, 1 mesh, 1 media|
|Weight||2.0 lbs||1.7 lbs||1.2 lbs||2.0 lbs||1.6 lbs|
|Powder skirt||Yes, removable||Yes, snap away||Yes||Yes, behind insulating layer||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This insulated jacket is a great pick for someone who prefers a more fitted and traditionally feminine cut. The compact insulation keeps the warmth of the Alphelia less bulky for all of your lift-access skiing pursuits. Thoughtful elements like a removable hood and silky wrist gaiters stand out among the competition on this stylish jacket.
With its proprietary Lifaloft synthetic insulation, the Alphelia kept us plenty warm in most weather. This insulation is created from the same fiber that Helly Hansen has used to make its base layers for years, benefiting from its compressibility and hydrophobic properties. This makes the Alphelia surprisingly warm for how low bulk it is. This insulation is found throughout the jacket, including the hood and high quilted collar, effectively keeping heat from escaping around the head and neck.
The severe taper, shorter cut, and wide hem could lead to draftiness in high winds. We found the insulation to feel a little dense, which, when combined with a slimmer fit, tended to trap moisture inside when exerting. This could lead to trouble keeping warm. On purely downhill pursuits, however, we found this jacket to insulate adequately and sufficiently.
The design of this jacket has pros and cons for keeping harsh weather out. Its high collar, spandex cuffs, powder skirt, and large hood keep snow safely out. On the other hand, the wide cut of the hem and the shorter length of the jacket meant we could feel drafts and even a little snow on very cold and windy days.
The Alphelia is equipped with Helly Tech Performance proprietary waterproofing treatment. This is a 15k/15k waterproof/breathable membrane treated with a DWR finish. We found this shell material to perform like a softshell in our testing. When exposed to high-pressure water, in the form of some of our isolated tests, the surface of the Alphelia stopped shedding water and began absorbing it. That said, this stopped at the DWR; we did not feel any moisture make it through to our base layers.
Comfort and Fit
The Alphelia leans heavily toward the tailored and fitted direction as far as jackets in this review go. Our lead tester is quite reliably a medium across manufacturers, and this jacket definitely runs a little small. The slimmer cut made it feel a little bulky with anything but the thinnest layers under it. If you prefer a roomier cut, we recommend sizing up. What sizing up does not remedy, however, is the shorter cut — the hem is decidedly short and rode up, especially on our taller testers.
The ventilation features on the Alphelia leave something to be desired. We did not find the mesh-lined pit zips to be very effective at increasing airflow — we think they would be more effective if they were unlined and a little wider. The benefit of keeping snow out is minimal compared to the benefit of a completely open vent. We also did not notice the perforated material in the upper back wicking away heat or moisture when we were working hard. The Alphelia has fairly typical breathability for an insulated jacket, but the compressed insulation tends to feel a little dense when combined with other layers. The breathability of this jacket performs best when paired with thin base layers.
As mentioned previously, the Alphelia is form-fitting and tailored. The tapered waist and shorter cut are flattering and sporty. The taped zippers are a sleek touch, and the two-toned chest zips stand out as a unique feature. There are relatively limited colorways for this jacket, but all of the options succeed at being understatedly stylish.
The Alphelia has relatively standard features for a resort-oriented jacket. The pockets are all functional, and the internal zip pocket is a great place to store valuables. The standout elements are a removable hood, silky wrist gaiters, and a large internal mesh drop pocket. We love how the hood can be removed for a lower bulk feel, but we wish that the powderskirt were also removable. Finally, the wrist gaiters never dig in and do an excellent job of keeping drafts and stray snow and ice out.
Should You Buy the Helly Hansen Alphelia Lifaloft?
If you prefer an insulated jacket because you tend to get a little cold even when everyone else seems to be fine, consider the Alphelia Lifaloft. Furthermore, this is a great option for the skier who prefers a more tailored fit and look. The Alphelia doesn't shy away from taper and sticks to a shorter hemline, making it stand out in a sea of freeride fits.
What Other Ski Jackets Should You Consider?
If you like the idea of an insulated jacket but prefer a roomier fit, check out the Patagonia Insulated Powder Town. Or, if having built-in insulation sounds like a bit much, the Outdoor Research Carbide is a great deal for a shell that will take you from the resort to the skin track.
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