Dani Arnold, Ueli Steck and Kilian Jornet – the names of just some of this generation of speed ascensionists who have helped develop the go-fast-go-light approach to modern alpine climbing. With these new philosophies come new challenges in technical outerwear, and manufacturers such as Salomon have been leading the way to create ultra-light, ultra-breathable equipment to deal with these new demands.
Comfort & Fit
For my frame (186cm/74kg), Salomon had recommended the S-LAB X Alp Anorak in Medium, which certainly does allow space for layering. With this sizing, I think a small could be sufficient for use with minimal layering – where as the medium (pictured) caters for thin down jackets underneath.
Generally, the jacket is as comfortable as a shell can be, there is some faff in pulling the anorak over your head to put it on, that said, the purpose here is to have a jacket that is adaptable enough to not take off once on.
The mobility is excellent, good enough even for running – and whilst the shell remains comfortable and moves well it is also rugged and has withstood a fair alpine battering without any significant damage.
The main USP for the X Alp Anorak is it’s breathability and adaptability – the absolutely huge pit zips can split the jacket to a complete poncho (the zip goes both ways so you can just vent the lower or upper half as needed) whilst the front and waist zipper provide even further ventilation – essentially this jacket allows you to almost take it off whilst wearing it, if that’s not too confusing…
“With details focused on fast ascents high in the mountains, X Alp Anorak uses a lightweight, GORE-PRO fabric with Motion Fit and FLOWTECH construction enabling maximum airflow while wearing a pack, without removing the jacket.”
Other then this mega ventilation, the jacket has the usual features you’d expect from a high end jacket (namely cuff adjustment, hem and hood adjustment).
Wind & Water Resistance
With all this breathability and zippage (word?), we expected some compromise on water and wind resistance, however, the zips are all extremely well sealed and often (such as the pit and front pocket zippers) are angled in such a way as to not expose themselves to the main force of rain. All this creates a very windproof and waterproof package with excellent breathability and ventilation – nice job Salomon.
Overall the Salomon X Alp Anorak is an excellent shell system. With some of the breathability we’ve tested and a lightweight design, it ultimately comes down to whether you prefer the Anorak pull-over system to a conventional jacket and if this technology is worth the price point (RRP £315)… We think it probably is.