The Norrona Lofoten Alpha Raw Zip Hoodie is a lightweight midlayer designed for high output skiing and snowboarding. It’s part of the ever popular Lofoten range of products that pretty much define the Norwegian brand to many riders.
I’ve worn the Alpha Raw Zip Hoodie a lot this winter. Riding the lifts, splitboarding and hiking. I’ve worn it on a daily basis at work when it’s been really cold and I slept in it for 8 nights whilst camping in the Alps in March.
Norrona Lofoten Alpha Raw Hoodie | The Basics
Fabric | Main: Polartec Alpha Raw. Panels: Polartec Power Grid
Weight | 280g
RRP | £139 / €159
Norrona Lofoten Alpha Raw Hoodie | Fabric
The Lofoten Alpha Raw Zip Raw Hoodie uses (unsurprisingly) Polartec Alpha Raw fabric over the main parts of the garment. It’s an advanced high loft fleece that was originally developed as the insulating part of Polartec Alpha synthetic insulation. It pretty similar to existing high loft fleeces on the market in look and feel but is less dense than most. In other words, it has more holes or gaps between the fibres. This is what makes Alpha Raw so breathable. Warmth isn’t sacrificed too much as the lofty fibres still trap air. The interior of the fabric is also a little more brushed that the exterior which also boosts warmth.
So, the fabric is very light, very breathable and pretty warm for its weight. It isn’t wind resistant at all however and requires a shell to cut windchill in exposed situations. On the flip side the extreme air permeability means it does regulate temperature well so it’s more difficult to overheat in the Alpha Raw than many other fleece fabrics. It also dries ridiculously quickly.
The Alpha Raw Zip Hoodie has Polartec Power Grid down the sides of the torso and under the arms. It also features on the hood and cuffs. Power Grid is thin, stretchy and really breathable. It works well in these areas alongside the Alpha Raw fabric as it reduces bulk and enables a better overall fit.
Norrona Lofoten Alpha Raw Hoodie | Features
I really like the hood under a helmet. There’s so little bulk due to the thin fabric and flat seams. Without a helmet it’s a little loose which makes it comfortable but it can end up in front of my eyes when looking upward or to the side. When sleeping in the hoodie on cold nights I’d have the hood up all night. It never felt itchy or annoying so overall it’s a big thumbs up.
The Alpha Raw has 3 pockets; two regular hand pockets and a chest pocket. All are mesh lined to keep bulk to a minimum. I’m a sucka’ for a chest pocket so I love the fact the Alpha Raw has one, especially for touring. It’s much easier to access when on the go. The hand pockets are fine.
Like most Norrona pieces, the Alpha Raw Hoodie has thumb loop cuffs. They are super comfy and fit great – long enough to keep the back of my hands warm but not too big inside a pair of gloves.
Norrona Lofoten Alpha Raw Hoodie | Fit
I love the Alpha Raw’s fit. It’s pretty close-fitting but nice and long so it doesn’t ride up. It’s technical enough to maximise warmth and moisture management but still it feels quite relaxed and comfortable. The arm length for me is spot on but if you have long arms they might be on the short side. I’m 170cm tall and weigh around 75kg. My test sample is a medium.
Norrona Alpha Raw Hoodie Review | Verdict
The Alpha Hoodie is a brilliant fleece for active use. There are so many midlayer options these days that fleece isn’t as popular as it used to be but when it’s done well it’s great. For lift served (ie. less active) skiing and riding the Alpha Raw works well as a midlayer on days when it’s not too cold. It also layers up well in really cold weather.
For splitboarding and ski touring use it’s a nice layer to have, though I’d choose when to pack it depending on conditions. Because it’s going to require a shell as soon as the wind picks up I’d often prefer to wear a simple wind shell or soft shell instead. On really cold days however it provides a nice cosy foundation layer to build on. It also packs down pretty small and weighs very little so if it ends up spending time in a pack it’s not too big a deal.
I’d also suggest that the Alpha Raw will make a perfect layering piece for extended use in really cold places. Ski expeditions, big touring trips or extended winter camping missions come to mind. It’s the type of garment you can wear 24 hours a day over a baselayer and, other than the big stoke of warmth it provides, you’d hardly notice you’re wearing it.
Workmanship and quality of construction seems high and so far it’s proved to be surprisingly durable. Due to the colour and fabric aesthetic I’m not going to be wearing the Alpha Raw much in casual situations but in the mountains it’s been great. It definitely gets my recommendation and should interest anyone looking for a very lightweight, warm and breathable fleece midlayer.
Disclaimer – I aim to be open and honest when writing gear reviews. On this occasion, Norrona gave me a sample for review. My views and opinions are independent whether I’m reviewing an item that has been loaned or given to me, or a product I purchased myself.