Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Alpkit Filoment Down Jacket - Long Term Review

A lightweight down jacket is a versatile piece of kit for the outdoors, providing warmth without bulk. This review is based on wearing an Alpkit Filoment jacket very regularly for over two years. Alpkit are a British company based in Nottinghamshire, England.

 Until recently products were available only by ordering online (with a free return/exchange system). The company regularly wins awards with the latest being voted "Best Online Retailer" by readers of TGO magazine. In 2017 Alpkit opened three shops; one at the factory, one in Hathersage and one in Ambleside.

The Filoment jacket is a mainstay in the Alpkit range and has gone through several incarnations.  I purchased my first jacket in 2015 and have used it mainly for walking, general out-and-about wear, as a warm layer around camp between Spring and Autumn and for travelling during colder weather.  I received the hooded 2017 version as a Christmas gift and so have been able to compare the two versions. Available colours are "Rocket" (green), "Nemo" (blue) and Black.

The Filoment is described as "a lightweight and packable micro-rib down jacket" and as "a versatile and lightweight addition to a layering system".  Retailing at £130 including postage, the Filoment is competitively priced when compared with lightweight down jackets of similar specification.  The sizing is reasonably generous, a medium size is a comfortable for me (5 feet 8 inches, 42 inch chest) and has room for a base layer and fleece to be worn underneath.  The medium size weighs approximately 400 grams, of which 140 grams is down fill.

The down itself is 90/10 European duck down rated at 650 fill power and uses a Nikwax Hydrophobic treatment.  Alpkit only use down which conforms to the RDS standard, meaning that birds aren't force fed or live plucked.  The outer is 20 denier polyester ripstop and is DWR treated to help keep moisture at bay. The down is contained in stitched through baffles; I've not experienced any clumping or migration of the down, and there has been no loss of feathers at all. The cuffs and hem are lycra bound (but see below concerning the latest version of the jacket). Design is in UK, manufacture is in China.

The latest version, the Filoment Hoody, has a couple of updates over the original jacket I bought.  Firstly, the hem now features an elasticated and adjustable drawcord.  I feel this is an improvement over the original which had a non-adjustable lycra hem.  The waist can now be cinched in a little to take it above the bum, or dropped down to protect the backside in colder conditions.

The second change is that, as suggested by the name, the jacket now features a hood.  This is large enough to go over a climbing helmet, moves reasonably well and is volume adjustable.  I must confess that I find this update a bit of a mixed blessing.  I rarely use a hood on a mid layer, preferring a hat unless the weather is really hostile - and then I'll be wearing a hardshell jacket with a hood.  The size of the hood doesn't lend itself to fitting comfortably under a cag, which could be a limit on use as a mid layer.  That said, I' probably in the minority concerning hoods!  The perfect solution for me would have been to have the hood detachable as on Alpkit's super-toasty warm Filo jacket.

The third update is that the lining in the front of the jacket is now a scrim type fabric rather than the original plain face.  This feels great and seems to shift body moisture very effectively during moderate exercise.

The cut of the jacket is subtly athletic and features articulated sleeves.  In the 2015 jacket there are smaller ribs at the elbows, but this feature isn't on the 2017 version.  Despite the light weight of the jacket, I've been pleasantly surprised by how resilient it has proved in use.  The only sign of wear at all is that after two years use the lycra hem isn't as elastic as when new, which clearly won't be an issue with the Hoody which has an adjustable elastic drawcord

The Filoment has two handwarmer pockets and a chest pocket, accessible by a vertical zip.  Zips all run smoothly, and while not particularly chunky, are all usable while wearing gloves.

Full care instructions are on the fun care label.  My original Filoment has been washed twice, using Nikwax Down Wash.  After gentle tumble drying the down lofts up again well, but it does take a little time and patience to regain full loft.

Both the original and the Hoody fit comfortably into a 1 litre stuffsac, making them very compact.  This Cordura/nylon silicone treated stuffsac is available from Alpkit for £7.50, and is better quality than the majority of stuffsacs.

The Filoment (and now the Hoody version) have become my "go to" jacket through most of the year.  For cool evenings, general walking, around camps and just about everything else.  Warm enough for most activities and yet not too warm to (for instance) wear when travelling through airports, the bottom line is that the Filoment is a well designed, well made and very versatile lightweight down jacket.  If you feel that you need something warmer again for very cold conditions, Alpkit's Filo may be what you're looking for.

Conflict of interest statement:

I own a number of Alpkit products, and have found all to be great kit.  Other than being a satisfied customer, I have no connection to Alpkit - my original Filoment was bought at full retail price and the Hoody was a family Christmas gift.

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