Lowe Alpine Arête 2009

While fashion says shorter jackets are the ones to be seen in, if you want to stay dry a longer jacket is best. The Lowe Alpine Arête is longer than most jackets here so you are well protected. It has four external pockets too so there is plenty of storage space. Add on a helmet-compatible Swivel Hood and this could be the most comfortable and practical jacket here.

Design
The Arête uses Gore-Tex Pro Shell with a mesh lining for top-of-the-mountain waterproofness, breathability and comfort. The extra length in the body not only means you are better protected from the cold and wet, but also there is space to have base pockets below the waistline. These are mesh-lined too for extra comfort and breathability, while stormflaps help keep the rain out. A fifth pocket behind the double stormflap protects the front zip. The hood can be rolled down and secured with a Velcro tab. Open it up and the hood has a wire peak and volume adjustment, with a loose lining for added comfort. The extra length allows for a drawcord to be fitted at the waist as well as the hem, for a double barrier against draughts. A nice smidgen of luxury comes from the brushed polyester chinguard. This is a functional and comfortable design.

On the hill
I loved the extra length of this jacket instantly. I could put my hands into the base pockets while wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt too. Also I didn’t have to get overtrousers out so often as the jacket was so much longer. I found the mesh lining a little irritating, as it tended to cling to wet hands and would poke though the cuffs when I first put the jacket on. Also, if wet items were placed in pockets, or I left the pockets open, water easily seeped through the mesh and thus into the jacket. The chest pockets were a touch smaller than some others too, but at least I could still get a map in them. The hood is particularly good, as I could wear it over a helmet if needed and also tighten the volume adjuster to give a snug fit on my head. The wired peak coped well with a particularly wet day on the Coniston Fells when horizontal rain questioned my sanity.

In the lab
The hood leaked around face and the lining encouraged moisture to move into the front of the shoulders and down to the collarbone area on the inside of the jacket.

Outer Gore-Tex Pro Shell
Inner mesh
Fabric waterproofness extremely waterproof
Fabric breathability extremely breathable
Sizes S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 792g  (men’s L)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 70
Stockist details – tel. (01539) 740840; www.lowealpine.com
Verdict
I’d like the Lowe Alpine Arête better if it had sealed pockets and no mesh lining (the lining adds comfort but doesn’t aid functionality). But the length, pocket layout and hood are ideal for walkers.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine March 2009