Lowe Alpine Taiga Jacket Review

13th Nov 2013

Earlier in the Summer I was asked to review an item from Lowe Alpine's new range of clothing for Trek and Mountain Magazine.  The Taiga jacket, which is a lightweight hardshell, offers excellent value for money and marks a great return to the UK market for a well respected company.  Limited space in the magazine necessitated a brief review but I have posted it below and would strongly recommend anyone who is in the market for a new hardshell taking a good look at the Taiga....
Product Outline
The Taiga jacket is one of a new range of clothing from the well respected and long established brand Lowe Alpine.  This is the first clothing selection Lowe Alpine have released since the brand was taken over by Equip Outdoor Technologies (the brand behind Rab, Pod and Outdoor Designs) and all the products have been designed and tested in the companies Kendal base so they are well suited to UK conditions.  An interesting history of the brand can be found here.
The Taiga is a fully featured hard shell designed for climbing and mountaineering.  It is constructed from Lowe's 3 layer breathable fabric Triple Point AP.  Lowe have been using Triple Point for many years and the AP version combines a microporous ePTFE membrane with a durable face fabric to make it suitable for high wear activities.  The Taiga comes in 4 colours and the size medium I received weighs 434 grams.  It retails for £230. 
In Use
I have used the Taiga a great deal over the last few months for climbing, scrambling, mountaineering and trekking and I am extremely impressed by both the fit and performance.  Breathability levels have been very good and the jacket has kept me dry and comfortable in a wide range of conditions.
The Jacket is trim fitting around the waist and torso but it has excellent freedom of movement in the upper body primarily because of the ‘reach high’ sleeves and well-shaped shoulders.  Its uncluttered design means it sits well and doesn’t bunch up at the front which makes it perfect for activities undertaken when wearing a climbing harness.  All the seams are well sealed with a narrow and lightweight tape.
The wired hood is also well designed and, as well as fitting comfortably over a helmet, it allows a good range of movement thanks to the ‘swivel sight’ system.  The hood also has an excellent front closure system and rear volume adjuster which is very easy to operate with gloves on.  
Apart from designing all the essentials well I am delighted that Lowe have kept the design very simple.  The Taiga has the features you need but nothing more.  The front closure is a 2 way water resistant YKK Aquaguard zip with interior storm flap and rain gutter.  There are Velcro wrist closures that are neatly designed to be wide enough to easily fit over glove cuffs.  There are 2 OS map compatible Napoleon style exterior chest pockets with water resistant zippers and 2 small interior mesh zippered pockets which are also at chest height. 
I am delighted that Lowe haven't added pit zips and I also really pleased they have avoided lower pockets which get in the way of harnesses or rucksack waist belts.  Lowe has also given careful thought to other small but important details.  The Tricot chin guard is large and comfortable.  The zip pullers are neat and efficient and all zippers have 'garages' to help seal out water.  A hood retaining system allows it to be rolled down when not in use.  There is a lower rim draw cord and all the stitching is neatly finished.
The Taiga is a great jacket.  Excellent performance, a great fit, neat styling and a very reasonable price tag make a winning combination.  If the Taiga is a sign of things to come Lowe Alpine’s new range should be a great success.  The Taiga comes very highly recommended.  
Full manufacturer details on the Taiga are available on the Lowe Alpine website here.
Full details on Trek and Mountain Magazine are available here (and please don't forget that Peak Mountaineering clients get useful discounts on Trek and Mountain subscriptions.  Details are available here).
Posted by Paul