The Eider Pulse Hybrid Jacket is one of a new breed of technical layers that can deliver astonishingly lightweight insulation performance when they’re right, and new levels of soggy coldness when they’re wrong – so what’s the Polartec-Alpha-insulated hoodie got going on?
Climbing Tip: Gear review in briefThe Eider Pulse Hybrid Jacket is robust, lightweight and super breathable. A brilliant upgrade to a standard fleece layer, but not as flexible as more windproof alternatives.
Basically you’ve got an athletic cut Polartec Powerstretch hoodie with a central band of heavier-weight Polartec Alpha panels that cover the front and back of the torso, head and shoulder areas. No thicker than a light fleece, but far warmer, and much less easier to dislodge than a gilet, it’s designed specifically for high-intensity activity in the cold.
Spec-wise, you’ve got nicely designed thumb loopsthat overlap when not in use, so your wrists don’t get chilled, double large chest pockets and an elasticated hood that swallows a helmet easily.
Obviously Eider has Skiing in mind here, but walkers, mountaineers and climbers are also in the market for warm, light and breathable layers. A medium weighs in at a claimed 460 grams, so it’s not overly hefty as a spare layer.
Lionnel Ducruet, Eider’s R&D manager, said that the intention behind the Eider Pulse Hybrid Jacket was exactly that: “To design a garment that was warmer but still lightweight and compressible, extremely breathable, comfortable, and adapted to very intense activities in cold weather.”
We took it to Scotland in winter to find out how it fared. The only snag we uncovered with the concept in that environment is the need to have a windproof layer on top, as the lightest breeze cuts right through – this obviously has a flipside, as it’s super-breathable. In fact Eider have stashed the Alpha insulation in between woven layers to stabilise it, then backed these with an open-mesh lining, so the breeze howls through. Great for breathability, bad for windproofing.
That aside, we found Eider’s design worked as pitched, keeping us surprisingly cool on the usual energetic Scottish walk-in to a route, but also provided a welcome glow at more static moments on a belay. As that’s pretty much the design statement for Polartec Alpha insulation, it’s a pretty good fit.
Eider also claim that the jacket is treated with Pertex Quantum’s water-repellent finish, and while the jacket doesn’t absorb like a sponge, the breathable nature of it means that you’ll want a shell of some kind – even a lightweight windproof – in case a breeze shows up.
Overall, we found the Eider Pulse Hybrid Jacket a strong candidate for a very cold conditions midlayer, but an item with a bit of a compromise on the windproofness front when used solo. Arguably it’s not intended for solo use though, so with this caveat it’s a good performer.
The Eider Pulse Hybrid Jacket won an ISPO 2015 Gold award, and is available from RRP £230, although we found it for £119 here.