Alpkit Resolute Jacket & Ardent Trousers Review

Living in the UK, softshells are year-round items of clothing, shielding against wind and light rain when out on days where you are unlikely to be caught in a heavy shower. I never seem to pack mine away at the back of my wardrobe for the entirety of a season. As a tradeoff against their lesser protection from prolonged heavy rain, comes a huge increase in breathability and comfort. Over the past few months I've put the Alpkit Ardent trousers and Resolute Jacket to the test. And the verdict? For active use in cooler weather I think they're pretty damn good.

RESOLUTE JACKET - £89.00

Billed as a "breathable and wind resistant hooded soft shell jacket, for freedom of movement making it ideal for climbing, scrambling, ski-touring and mountain walking" the Resolute is a good all-rounder at a sensible price.

Fabric

Water Resistance, Warmth and Breathability:

The double weave fabric is well suited to a range of conditions, thick enough to handle a pleasant Scottish winter day with only light layers beneath - and this makes it appropriate for a range of cooler conditions. I've used this over a base and mid insulation layer on pleasant Scottish winter days and climbing in stronger winds in warmer Spring conditions, with only a base layer underneath. I would probably opt for a lighter softshell in warmer weather as this isn't quite as breathable as needed when I've been out on days with periods of sun and a light wind. In warm sunny spells I've tended to pack the Resolute down into my pack.

The fabric has a water repellent treatment, which works well in light showers, beading up and shaking off as I have been moving. I have had the jacket soak through on the shoulders in a heavier shower where a hard shell would have probably been better in retrospect, however this did dry off fast in a light breeze.

Toughness:

The Resolute's 92% nylon has been able to withstand a fair share of abrasion and I haven't felt worried about taking it out on rougher rock. Because of this, I'd recommend this if you are looking for a softshell that'll last. Some reinforcement in areas that see repeated wear would be beneficial, such as shoulders, although this extra thickness would reduce its packability.

Movement and Comfort:

The 8% spandex has been accommodating for stretch when those long reaches are needed, which being lanky in shape and climbing style, I do a lot. Much like the Ardent, the fabric doesn't move with you quite as well as other lighter fabric softshells do, but I probably wouldn't want anything lighter when using this winter climbing. I think this is a small price to pay if you are looking for a versatile softshell to use over most of the year.

Fit

The Resolute comes in both men's and women's fit.

Alpkit stated a more generous fit initially, but have since updated this to an 'active fit', which I would agree with. For me, the fit is one of the reasons I like the Resolute, as I've not found many jackets that fit me as well. However, I am reasonably slim with long arms and tend to find I need to compromise between a smaller/slimmer size for the body, or a baggier fit that's long enough in the arms. For context I'm 6ft1 and have a fairly short torso relative to my legs.

I have a size small on review, and this hugs my chest well. However, I imagine if you are big chested that the Resolute would possibly feel tight in this area. With a harness over, the slim stomach means there isn't much bagginess in the way. The articulated arms work well on me, only at the maximum of a high reach is there lifting or bunching of the jacket over my harness, and this is very minimal. The drop hem means there is a good length and overlap between it and your trousers to avoid any exposed areas when the wind is up.

When fully zipped the neck area offers a good fit which covers my chin and hugs into my neck whilst still allowing me to move my head freely without moving the rest of the jacket. All in all it's a great fit.

Features

The large hand pockets are spacious and lined, which have kept my hands warm when stopped in a chilly breeze. If wearing a harness then I have stowed my phone and an energy bar in the left chest pocket and there is an inside chest pocket on the right which is equally big for anything that I don't need quick access to.

The hood is helmet compatible but maybe could do with slightly more height as this has pulled the neck area up, which feels noticable and restrictive when fully zipped up. When stowing the hood away there is a velcro system to roll the hood up and secure at the back. To be honest this is a bit of a nuisance, not easy to use whilst wearing and I can feel it draped down on my back when not using it (a button might be easier?).

For use without a helmet there are three adjustment points for the hood, which are easy to use - one at the rear to bring the hood in, and two at the front on the neck area. These have worked really well for bringing the full hood area in close to my head and keeping out the wind. Likewise, the waist uses a similar draw system to bring this area in tight which I have no complaints about. The main zip is two-way, which I have used for a bit of venting when working up a sweat. Although I have always had the Resolute tucked under my harness as it is probably most appropriate on cooler days, the bottom zip could still be used together with a belay plate if you prefer the jacket over a harness.

Alpkit say:

Breathable and wind resistant hooded soft shell jacket, for freedom of movement making it ideal for climbing, scrambling, ski-touring and mountain walking.

  • Weight: 535g (small)
  • Sizes: S-XXL (men) 8-16 (women)
  • Fabric: 92% nylon, 8% spandex, 207 gsm
  • Construction: double weave
  • Air permeability: 2.6CFM
  • C6 DWR
  • Stretchy for freedom of movement
  • Inner is sanded for warmth and comfort next to skin
  • Active fit with articulated arms and drop hem
  • Helmet compatible roll-away hood, with 3 adjustment points
  • 2-way front zip
  • 1 external and 1 internal chest pocket
  • 2 zipped hand warmer pockets
  • 3 Year Alpine Bond

For more info see alpkit.com


ARDENT TROUSERS - £85.00

These are great softshell trousers that are ideal for pleasant winter days and cold spring/summer days. I've used them for both climbing and walking in the hills, and at this price they're a good buy for either.

Fabric

Water Resistance, Warmth and Breathability:

The double weave fabric of these trousers is the same weight and warmth as the Resolute Jacket. It's a good sensible sort of thickness for more or less year-round mountain use, especially in more iffy conditions. Unless it's the height of summer, I've found they work well in combination with baselayer leggings, with the option to add hard shell trousers over the top if the weather turns.

The water repellent coated outer handles mist as well as light showers, and they have kept me dry in changeable conditions. The double weave has stopped the wind stripping heat from me when on a breezy sea cliff belay ledge, meaning I'm not shivering waiting on my partner. Whilst continuously moving on a longer hill walk, the fabric has a good amount of breathability to keep you cool, so in comparison to heavier softshell fabrics it's better for active use outside of winter.

Toughness:

The Ardent's 92% nylon fabric is tough enough to deal with abrasion from scuffs when climbing and general mountain use, though as these are not the most specialised trousers, a serious winter mountaineer may want something a little more durable (as well as warmer). Having said that, as my outer in pleasant Scottish winter climbing conditions, where a hard shell is not a necessity, they have felt robust and haven't shown signs of thinning in any key areas.

A stretch ripstop reinforcement over the knees, seat and instep provides added toughness where it is needed, whilst not adding significant rigidity or compromising comfort. These reinforced areas are larger than many other softshell trousers I have tried previously, and that is a real selling point for me. The bum reinforcement has performed well as this is usually the first area to show sign of significant abrasion (or maybe I spend too much time sitting about), but it does feel like a much harder wearing material. Stuffing my knees into cracks in winter and the occasional knee bar/jam on rough rock in colder rock climbing conditions has yet to show considerable damage in these areas. That said, earlier in this year's rock season I have had a small inevitable nick from some particularly rough sandstone on the reinforced knee. However, I have still been impressed that the ripstop fabric has stopped this spreading.

Movement and Comfort:

The double weave inside is soft and comfortable whilst the 8% spandex has been completely adequate for allowing stretch across the leg and hip area, including when requiring a high foot or wide bridge when climbing. The trouser maybe doesn't move with you as much as other lighter fabric softshells do, but this seems to be a good trade-off if I'm needing an increase in robustness. The stretch ripstop still does manage to move with the rest of the trousers, and whilst being slightly less stretchy, there is no noticeable tightness or hotspots from rubbing rigid areas.

Fit

The Ardent is available in both men's and women's sizes, and three different leg lengths. I opted for a small even though I usually take a longer size, and luckily it fits my leg length and shape well. They are slim in the leg without excessive bagginess, which I like, especially whilst wearing with crampons to limit the likelihood of a snag. I've had no problem fitting over my mountaineering boots with the gusseted lower leg zipped up, and if needed I use the drawcord to minimise any snow getting in and over my boot. When wearing approach shoes or lighter boots, zipping the lower leg down can maintain a good fit at the ankles.

For general walking and scrambling there really are no complaints in terms of freedom of movement. Alpkit say you could probably do the splits in these trousers, and unfortunately the closest I could get was a wide bridge (read: I'm not that flexible). Even so, the fit definitely allows for a good deal of movement, with the gusseted crotch and articulated knee. Perhaps this would become more of an issue for wearers with bigger thighs?

Features

With two accommodating hip pockets and two slightly smaller thigh pockets, I haven't felt short of space. When wearing a harness, the hip pockets are still easy to access and if my harness has been overloaded with gear then any small essentials can be accessed using the thigh pockets too. Though the pockets are mesh-lined for ventilation, I haven't noticed them being particularly effective as vents. On warmer days you'd probably want to be wearing lighter legwear in any case!

With previous softshell trousers I have had the fastening system unclip over the course of the day as my harness digs into the buckle, but the Ardent's slide and clip system stops this from occurring.

Alpkit say:

Tough double weave midweight softshell trousers for mountain activities, designed to cut out the worst of the cold and wind for comfort over a range of conditions.

  • Weight: 470g (small)
  • Sizes: S-XXL (men) 8-18 (women)
  • Leg length: short, regular or long
  • Fabric: Fabric: 92% nylon, 8% spandex, 207 gsm
  • Construction: double weave with sanded back
  • Air permeability: 2.6CFM
  • C6 DWR
  • Wind and abrasion resistant, with stretch ripstop reinforcement in key areas
  • Active cut, gusseted crotch and articulated knees give you freedom of movement
  • Double weave fabric is soft and comfortable next to your skin
  • Gusseted lower leg with zips to fit well with all your outdoor shoes
  • 2 hand pockets and 2 thigh pockets (accessible when wearing a harness)
  • Low profile integrated belt that fits under your harness
  • 3 Year Alpine Bond

For more info see alpkit.com




21 Jun

Great review!

24 Jun

Your size small fits you well and hood goes easily over a helmet at that size... but how tall are you?

28 Jun

I'm 6.1, but I'm probably a bit out of proportion (short torso for length of legs)