“Wow, this jacket is so comfortable,” says everyone who tries on the Marmot Alpha 60 Jacket. In fact, the cozy, furry exposed Polartec Alpha insulation truly feels like you’re snuggling up with your favorite blanket. But, how does all that cozy comfort translate into real-world performance? Those details are a little fuzzy.
Marmot Alpha 60 Jacket Features:
- Pertex Quantum AIR© 20 CFM face fabric with 4-way stretch
- Light DWR finish for added water protection
- Polartec® Alpha® Direct insulation
- Attached hood with elastic binding
- Zippered handwarmer pockets
- Zippered chest pocket
- Weight: 255 grams (medium, actual)
- MSRP: $165
It’s kinda fuzzy (in a mostly good way)
Polartec is the originator of synthetic insulation for outdoor apparel. That “fleece” jacket that everyone wears was originally made using Polartec material way back in 1981. Since that time, fabric technology has improved leaps and bounds, with the primary benefits being breathability, reduced weight, and loft. Synthetic insulation and fabrics have become much more performant and Polartec is leading the charge by removing the lining and going direct with the Alpha Direct insulation used here in the Marmot Alpha 60 Jacket.
By using Polartec Alpha Direct, the Marmot Alpha 60 delivers a unique, cozy feel but also breathes like a champ. It’s funny… almost every jacket that comes through for testing gets tried on or used by my wife or kids. With this one, my wife instantly commented how cozy and comfortable it was. It’s like being wrapped in Chewbacca fur (or at least what I imagine his fur to be like). The surface area achieved by the open face of the Polartec insulation allows each fiber to conform to your body or base layers for unmatched wicking performance.
While the Alpha 60 isn’t billed as a running-specific jacket, that’s how I have put it’s breathability to the test. With temperatures in the upper-20’s to mid-30’s, I’ve worn a midweight base layer with the Alpha 60 on top. The fit is superb with no excess material to flap around. at 5’11” and 170 lbs, the size medium fits perfectly. It’s not super tight anywhere, nor is it restricting in any way, but there’s no excess. And, the sleeves are the perfect extra length to maintain coverage when wearing gloves or reaching overhead (hallelujah!).
Back to cold weather trail running… everything about this jacket performs awesome with the top feature being the breathability. You simply can’t overwhelm it. I can sweat up a storm and the back panel remains just a little damp and never gets saturated or soggy like other jackets do. And, when I’m done running, I can leave the jacket on and everything dries out at room temperature in 15-20 minutes. Again, I’m in Utah, so the humidity is minimal (35% inside my home), so your results will vary. But, I guarantee you’ll be surprised by just how well this jacket breathes and dries.
Oh, and cold weather isn’t necessarily this jacket’s forte if you’re not actively moving. Walking the dog in a brisk, cold wind will be a chilly affair. But, running, fast-paced hiking or snowshoeing in the cold is perfect as long as you’re moving.
I’ll add that the anti-microbial characteristics of Polartec Alpha keeps things stink-free as well. I can wear the jacket on a morning run and head out to run errands in the afternoon and it doesn’t stink — even after multiple uses!
Let me add a little more on the overall fit of the Marmot Alpha 60 Jacket. It feels like it’s moving with you and never does it inhibit mobility. There’s something about the combination of Pertex and Polartec Alpha that makes this feel like an extension of your body. The streamlined hood is fantastic to wear in a pinch and stays put quite well (maybe a little too well — more on that later). You can comfortably run with the hood on since the collar sits at your chin and doesn’t inhibit breathing. Should temperatures get really cold, it’s tall enough to pull up to your nose.
Okay, so I’m singing its praises, but there are some downsides to Polartec Alpha. One of them appears to be a “feature” of Polartec Alpha and the other is more of a personal problem. The biggest gripe I have is that this stuff sheds. And, I don’t mean a little… I’m talking “Locks of Love” quantities and particularly if you’re wearing a black Merino wool base layer without washing the jacket first. Whoa Nelly! I must have used several sheets of my wife’s lint roller and still wasn’t able to get it all.
I washed it a couple of times rightside-out and things improved slightly. It wasn’t until I washed it inside-out that the shedding issue improved dramatically. Still, it does shed a little on black Merino wool (most of my base layers). Other materials are more forgiving and certainly you’ll never notice it on lighter colors. I’ll continue to wash it inside-out and see if it continues to improve.
The second issue is more of a personal and a guy thing. I shave my head and when I have stubble, the hood grabs onto it like Velcro. Not only does it make it difficult to put on and take off, but I end up with Alpha fuzzies all over my head. The same things applies to my face and chin. On the bright side, the hood stays put in the wildest of weather. Bonus!
Fit: I’m 5’11” and the medium fits to perfection!
- Feels so comfortable to wear
- The best breathable insulation around
- Moves with you
- Pertex has been durable and weather-shedding
- Overall fit and cut of the jacket is on point (with extra sleeve length — thank you, Marmot!!!)
- Insulation sheds a ton initially (be sure to wash it inside-out before use)
- Front chest pocket could be a touch bigger
The Bottom Line: Marmot Alpha 60 Jacket
For cold weather activity or cool mornings in the mountains, the Marmot Alpha 60 jacket offers a unique blend of comfort and breathability. It’s not going to replace that puffy jacket, but for the right weather or activity, Polartec Alpha Direct insulation can’t be beat in terms of breathability. I’ll add that the cut of this jacket is spot on — with longer sleeves and a streamlined fit. It feels custom-tailored for my body.
Buy Now: Available at MooseJaw