23-09-17

Castelli Alpha Jersey versus Alpha Jacket

The Alpha Jacket has been a game changer in the winter jacket market. It has received many (very) good reviews (not only from the press but also fron users who bought one themselves).

Two years ago I started looking at these jackets and found out that there was also a jersey version. After a lot of thought I bought the jersey. It has been my go to fall/winter/spring jersey/jacket (it is far more than just a jersey).

The Alpha Jersey has served me well in all but the coldest weather. Last winter we were having a very cold period with many deep sub zero mornings and the Alpha Jersey was just not warm enough. The cold managed to creep in through my arms and back. Then came the opportunity to buy an Alpha Jacket in a sale and I finally got hold of one. And I must say it has been awesome! It has truly lived up to it's reputation.

One thing I found lacking when looking into the Alpha range was a good comparison of the two. Most descriptions were pretty vague with very little information on the jersey.

In this post I would like to provide some more detail on the differences between the two.

The Alpha concept (as I experience it): Provide comfort by using a breathable outer shell (that protects from wind and provides a barrier against rain) by decoupling it from the insulation layer. The main benefit is increased breathability and moisture management (no 'cold sweat').

How I use the Alpha jersey and jacket: The jersey is the most versatile in our Belgian climate, you can cover a very broad range of conditions by choosing your base layer. I have been using very light summer base layers under this jacket in fall/spring conditions. In winter I have been using thermal base layers (sometimes combined with a summer base layer underneath), you can also change the weight of the base layer according to the conditions. On some occasions I would wear a long sleeve base layer on my morning commute and a short sleeve base layer on my evening commutes. 

I have only used the jacket in very cold conditions (i.e. freezing) or in very poor weather (think up to 8°C and rain).

The differences:

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The main give away to spot the difference is the orientation of the front zippered pocket.

Jersey on the left, jacket on the right.

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After opening you can already see the differences in insulation. Jersey has a light front insulation panel (white) and no insulation on the back. Jacket has a heavy front insulation panel (black) and a light insulation panel on the back (white, same as the front panel of the jersey).

The differences are very clear when they are turned inside out. 

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You can see that the jersey sleeves are not insulated and have a non-Windstopper panel at the back.

At the backside the differences are also very clear.

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Roubaix like (think leg warmer material) for the jersey and full windstopper (ventilated at the top) for the jacket.

To summarize:

Component Alpha Jersey FZ Alpha Jacket
Front Shell Gore Windstopper Gore Windstopper
Backpanel Roubaix like fabric Gore Windstopper
Front Insulation Lightweight Insulation Heavyweight Insulation
Back Insulation None Lightweight Insulation
Sleeves Windstopper with roubaix like fabric on backside Full Windstopper
Sleeve Insulation None Heavyweight Insulation on front side
Back Pockets Windstopper Windstopper

To close of the pro's and cons:

PRO:

They both work really well in a very broad range of conditions.

The insulation separated from the outer shell works really well. 

If you are to hot you can unzip the shell and the insulation will keep you warm, the unzipped panels don't flap as much as e.g. an unzipped windvest.

All black (other colours are available) easy to keep clean.

Front zipped pocket is a real plus.

Durable and really good quality.

CONs:

All black, hard to spot in low light conditions. Could do with more reflective highlights.

Front zipped pocket could be slightly larger. The position on the jersey is better than the one on the jacket.

Quality has it's price (look around for sale items).

 

So all in all very good products that cover a lot of ground. The 2017 fall/winter version of the jacket has been updated with some reflectivity and more importantly with taped seams making it even more versatile.

 

 

 

 

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