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September 2020 Issue
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Macpac Nitro Polartec Alpha Pullover



Our Rating:

At a glance
Lightweight, breathable, quick-drying, good fit.
Minuses: Air permeability.

Weight: 140g (m), 110g (w)

Features: Made with Polartec Alpha Direct insulation (78% of which is recycled) that isn’t enclosed in fabric so the insulation rests directly against the skin. There is a hood, which the top stuffs into when packed, for added warmth, a Napoleon chest pocket (men’s version only), elasticated hem and thumb loops. 

Fit: It’s a slim-fitting top that can be worn over a base-layer. The fit can feel tight, but this enables a jacket or another jumper to be worn over the top. Raglan sleeves compensate, allowing decent freedom of movement. 

Comfort: It’s nice and soft next-to-skin. Wearing layers underneath made it feel tight – not to the point of restricted movement, but enough that it could be felt. 

In use: It’s a good insulator in the right conditions – when there’s no wind. Because there’s no face or backing fabric enclosing the insulation, it’s highly porous (stretch the fabric and you can see right through the gaps) and wind cuts straight through stripping away any warmth that might have been trapped. In these conditions, it needs to be paired with a base-layer, heavier mid-layer or jacket.

That wind permeability does provide one major advantage: the top is super quick-drying, wicking away lots of sweat before becoming uncomfortable and then drying quickly after activity.

The hood is a welcome feature and fits tightly so that it moves with the head and doesn’t obstruct your view.

The thumb loops ensure sleeves don’t ride up when arms are outstretched or when putting something on over the top. The long design of the loops means they keep popping out from under the cuff when not in use. 

Value: A reasonably-priced mid-layer that weighs less than some base-layers. The only drawback is that it works better when paired with an outer-layer. 

Verdict: A packable, lightweight mid-layer with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio – just beware windy conditions.