Helly Hansen Alpha Jacket Review
The Helly Hansen Alpha Jacket is a performance-oriented resort jacket with a good range of smart and useful features. The Alpha has mid-weight insulation and is a great every day outerlayer for the resort skier/rider. 80 grams of PrimaLoft Infinity insulation provide warmth without a lot of bulk. For colder days, the jacket pairs well with a lightweight midlayer like fleece or micro-puffy. Helly Hansen included their innovative Mesh Flow system to help keep you cool when you start sweating. The system works by putting in a few strips of mesh that float off your back with some aerated padding. I found it did a great job of allowing air to move when I needed it to while not decreasing warmth. Good-sized pit zips also allow ventilation when it gets hot out.
The Alpha features Helly Tech Professional fabric, which is one of my favorite fabrics on the market. Combining waterproof/breathable performance with 2-way stretch and an awesome hand-feel is an impressive feat. The stretch and soft feel eliminate the ‘crinkle effect’ of many jackets and I love this about the Alpha. The jacket repelled wet snow well and is seam sealed to prevent leaks. Surprisingly, though, the pockets are not waterproof, which seems like an oversight to me but could have been a way to help keep the jacket at a reasonable price.
Helly Hansen gave the Alpha two small chest pockets and two waist pockets as well as an internal zippered chest pocket just inside the front zipper. I wish the waist pockets were just a little bit bigger but they are perfectly adequate for typical days on the mountain. There is also a small zippered pocket on left wrist that is great for chapstick and other small necessities. A goggle wipe attached to an elastic leash is a welcome bonus in the front left chest pocket. The hood is fully helmet compatible and is also removable. Well not removable, the powder skirt does have a mechanism for buttoning out-of-the-way when not in use.
Overall, I found the Helly Hansen Alpha jacket to be a good all-around resort jacket. While it doesn’t incorporate all of Helly Hansen’s top features, the Alpha gives you the most important things at a reasonable price. Top-end fabric and well-rounded features make me comfortable recommending the Alpha jacket to any resort skier. The jacket is available in Clementine, Racer Blue, and Black and retails for $400.