Expert Review: Helly Hansen Men's Alpha Lifaloft Insulated JacketPublished on 08/28/2023 · 8 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2022.
Imperial Chair Breckenridge. All photos by Mike French
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2022.
The Helly Hansen Men’s Alpha Lifaloft Insulated Jacket is a great all-condition winter jacket that’s fully waterproof and breathable. It’s well-designed and has many features, including fleece-lined hand warmer pockets, side vents to keep one cool and airflow moving, and a fully detachable helmet-compatible hood.
About the piece
- Model: 2022 Helly Hansen Men’s Lifaloft Insulated Jacket
- Size: XL
- Fit: Comfort fit with plenty of room for movement.
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 220lbs
- Experience: Over 35 years on snow (former skier and current snowboarder).
- When I bought this: November 2022
- Days tested: 40
- Where I’ve used it: Colorado, Utah, Tahoe, Missouri
- Conditions I’ve used it in: Stormy, sunny, spring, wind, and ice.
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a lightweight jacket that offered some insulation but wasn’t extra bulky. I wanted something with a removable and helmet-compatible hood. I sought quality and something that would last.
Why I chose this gear
I wanted a Helly Hansen jacket because of its reputation in the industry. I purchased this jacket because it met all the criteria I sought. It’s waterproof and windproof, has a removable helmet-compatible hood, and is lightly insulated. I looked at other jackets in the Helly Hansen lineup, but I ended up with this one because it had all the features I wanted and was one of their best-selling jackets.
What I love about it
- Fit: Snug but comfortable fit with plenty of room for movement.
- Comfort: This jacket has a high level of comfort. Zippered vents keep air flowing, and Helly Hansen’s HELLY TECH Professional fabric is breathable and waterproof. Also, the H2Flow is a temperature regulation system that keeps me warm by storing hot air and has vents to cool me down. This jacket is comfortable in all conditions and with varying activity levels.
- Range of Motion: The Alpha Lifaloft jacket is designed with an advanced range of motion and has articulated sleeves for optimal mobility.
- Design: It has accessible front and interior pockets, microfleece-lined hand pockets with a removable helmet-compatible hood, underarm vents, and integrated goggle shammy. Lots of thought went into this jacket, and it's well-designed and functional.
- Style: A comfort-fit jacket with thumb loops gives it a snug and comfortable feel but looks technical and good on the mountain. The Alpha Lifaloft works well as an everyday winter jacket. It’s comfortable and fun to wear.
- Quality of Materials: HELLY TECH is Helly Hansen’s name for the similarly applied and better-known GORE-TEX. Although extremely well-known among outdoor enthusiasts, GORE-TEX is arguably the lower-quality product of the two. HELLY TECH is higher quality, longer lasting, and more technical than GORE-TEX and is specific to Helly Hansen branded items. HELLY TECH is a tough, weatherproof outer layer specially designed for the harshest conditions. It combines a water-repellent outer fabric and a highly breathable inner fabric. The exterior matte finish feels solid and looks sharp because it’s constructed with polyamide (nylon). Polyamide is stronger than polyester or polypropylene and is applied for hard-wearing products such as outer shells and footwear. With proper care, polyamide application to the Helly Hansen Men’s Alpha Lifaloft keeps the jacket performing at a high level throughout its life.
- Durability: It’s built to last. Helly Hansen’s use of high-quality materials and construction practices make their outerwear repairable rather than replaceable. It’s part of their commitment to the environment. Technically engineered and real-world tested, all Helly Hansen garments are warranted to the original owner against defects in materials and workmanship. Should any products purchased fail due to a manufacturing defect within two years of the purchase date, Helly Hansen offers credit or will provide a replacement. Helly Hansen has been supplying outdoor gear to athletes for over 140 years. They take pride in their commitment to the environment and produce gear built and designed using high-quality materials and construction. Producing long-lasting products, like this jacket, is a better use of the earth’s resources and keeps waste out of landfills.
- Pockets: Helly Hansen Men’s Alpha Lifaloft Insulated Jacket has several well-designed and highly functioning pockets. There is an inner front chest pocket that Helly Hansen calls the Life Pocket. It’s an insulated pocket that uses thermal material and innovative construction to stay three times warmer than a conventional pocket. It will help extend one’s cell phone's battery in cold conditions. The jacket also has two front pockets lined with microfleece to warm my hands. Additionally, it has two outside chest pockets that are quick to access and an integrated goggle shammy. Also, on the fronts of the sleeve, there are pockets for my ski pass and other quick access essentials, like lip balm or small snacks.
- Waterproofing: It uses HELLY TECH, which is waterproof and breathable. Also, it has fully taped seams for ultimate protection in wet weather.
- Breathability: Extremely breathable. The jacket is made with breathable materials, and the side and underarm vents also help with airflow. An additional vent in the back helps circulate the body’s heat around the body and lets it escape in warm conditions. In terms of being comfortable in adverse conditions, moisture is the biggest concern. Staying dry means staying warm, and with Helly Hansen’s revolutionary H2Flow technology designed to move air around, the Alpha Lifaloft keeps my body comfortable and dry in all conditions.
- Warmth: It has Lifaloft premium insulation. It is 20% lighter than standard insulation and warmer too.
- Weight: This is a medium-weight jacket. However, it’s not the lightest jacket available because its insulation and technical features add to the overall weight.
- Features: The Helly Hansen Men’s Alpha Lifaloft Insulated Jacket is packed with features and advanced garment technologies. It’s labeled HELLY TECH PROFESSIONAL, which means it contains the highest levels of construction and materials for those athletes that experience the harshest conditions. It also has Lifaloft premium insulation, which keeps riders warm and dry. It has a PrimaLoft Aerogel pocket which prevents battery drain on electronics and cell phones in cold weather. RECCO technology is built in and makes riders searchable by Ski Patrol and other rescue professionals worldwide. It has four-way stretch fabric for ultimate mobility. It is fully seam-sealed, which means after the seams are sewn together, a special tape is added over the thread, giving the jacket waterproofing for the wettest conditions. The hood is removable and adjustable, so it’s helmet compatible, and since the jacket’s constructed with bluesign materials and is PFC-free, it has a minimal environmental impact. Lastly, the adjustable side vents and rear vent keep airflow moving around the body to help regulate temperature.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Zippers: At first glance, the zippers don’t seem very sturdy. They are plastic and made with very small teeth but perform as expected and operate smoothly.
- Other: The price is the biggest issue I’ve encountered with the Helly Hansen Men’s Alpha Lifaloft Insulated Jacket. It’s easily the most expensive jacket I have ever purchased, but I’m hoping it will be the last jacket I purchase. While a lower-cost option would perform similarly and function well, lower-cost options don’t typically have the high quality of construction and durability that I get with this jacket. Also, it’s packed with features and technology that drive up cost. At the end of the day, I decided it was worth the cost to spend the extra money for all the high-level features and technology that went into this well-designed jacket. After a season in this jacket, it’s clear that it was worth the added expense.
Favorite moment with this gear
I realized I had something special when I was ready to head out one day and needed to help my kids get their gear on. Struggling, huffing, and puffing to get them geared up, and I noticed I wasn’t sweating. I was wearing my new 2022 Helly Hansen Men’s Alpha Lifaloft Insulated Jacket inside, but I wasn’t getting hot and bothered. A few hours later, I was dry, warm, and comfortable at the top of the Imperial Chair (12,840ft) at Breckenridge in sub-freezing temperatures and blowing snow. The breathability of this jacket is top-notch, and its ability to provide warmth and stay dry in adverse conditions is awe-inspiring.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Helly Hansen Alpha Lifaloft Insulated Jacket offers a lot for the money and is well worth the cost. It’s a technical jacket with many technologically advanced features proprietary to Helly Hansen. It’s comfortable, warm, and constructed with high-quality and durable materials. It’s comparable to other high-quality brands, such as the Burton AK 2L GORE-TEX Swash Jacket, the Arc'teryx Sabre AR Jacket, and The North Face Men's Summit Verbier FUTURELIGHT Jacket. These offer similar features, such as waterproofing and breathability. Still, other brands’ high-level and high-priced options are likely overkill for the casual or new rider just getting into the sport. As riders progress in the sport, so do their needs for high-quality and technical features. Waterproofing and breathability are a must, but the removable and helmet-compatible hood, along with Helly Hansen’s longevity and expertise, separates the Helly Hansen Alpha Lifaloft Insulated Jacket from the pack. Being comfortable on the mountain in all conditions comes with a price and can be the difference between a good and a miserable day. Everyone wants more good days out there. Sure, other jackets are available for less money, but they won’t have all the same high-quality features and durability provided by the Alpha Lifaloft.
This jacket gives me the confidence to head out the door and hit the mountain regardless of conditions, which can change at any moment. A well-insulated, breathable, waterproof jacket and all the other technical features make for an excellent and enjoyable all-day mountain adventure.