The Sugoi Alpha Hybrid ($180) is a highly-breathable cold-weather active jacket with a high warmth to weight ratio. Here in the frigid upper Midwest of Minnesota, it’s kind of what we look for. Ideally, I look for a jacket that can keep me comfortable in temperatures around -15 with windchill (when the temps plunge to -16 or lower I’m on the couch under a blanket). I’m okay with it, too. I was happy to finally get through all the seasons of Grace and Frankie on Netflix thanks to our cold and snowy winter. On to the review!
What I liked
- Decent weather-resistance. The Sugoi Alpha Hybrid is constructed with a DWR-treated exterior that provided good water-resistance in moderate snowfall only. When I rode at higher exertion rates in moderate snowfall, the heat that I generated caused a higher melting rate of snow on the jacket, which soaked through the sleeves. What did impress me about the Alpha Hybrid was that for such a minimal-weight jacket it provided a very good degree of wind-resistance in gusts up to ten miles per hour. In gusts above that, I felt the wind penetrating like Scottish moor.
- Drop-tail coverage. May not seem important but it is. Have you ever ridden 20 miles on a fatbike in cold temperatures with wet butt from snow and slush kicked up the rear tire?
- Excellent breathability. Though the Sugoi Alpha Hybrid is geared more for cold-weather running, where the arms are moving and have a higher propensity for sweating, breathability was still excellent. It’s constructed with Polartec Alpha insulation in the core and back panels and breathable, stretchy MidZero breathable thermal knit fabric in the arms and side panels. The soft, brushed inner side of the arms and sides of the MidZero fabric increases airflow to encourage moisture transfer.
- Warm in temps as low as 22 degrees (with windchill). The Sugoi Alpha Hybrid is insulated with Polartec Alpha® active insulation in the core and back and MidZero fabric in the sleeves and side panels. This combination of body-mapped fabrics work to regulate core body temperatures during higher-intensity activity by increasing airflow to encourage moisture transfer, which contributes to its warmth factor. A comfortable mid-rise collar sits well below the chin. Despite its snug fit, I thought it was comfy and did an excellent job of keeping the warmth inside. BUT–a good review must have a ‘but’–it’s a semi-fitted jacket so layering is limited. Still, I found the best warmth when paired with a mid-weight merino wool baselayer only. This was how I got to be comfortable riding in temperatures as low as 22 degrees with windchill.
- Nice-and-functional features. It’s an active cold-weather jacket for cycling, running and/or skiing. So you have one jacket that can cover multiple activities. Longer sleeves and stretchy fabric do an excellent job of providing coverage in all cycling positions. When wearing with gloves, the thumb loops block all cold air from penetrating the sleeves. A zippered arm pocket easily holds an MP3 player or a small smartphone. Two zippered hand pockets are nicely sized for carrying snacks or small tools. BUT–the zipper pulls are only moderately glove-friendly when wearing midweight insulated riding gloves. With heavier gloves, I always had to remove them before zipping or unzipping.
What I didn’t like
- Durability could be so-so. It’s a well-constructed, quality jacket, no doubt about it. On its own it has the ability to last through many years of rides and washing machine cycles. The MidZero construction on the arms and side panels, though soft, would still be able to hold up on contact with tree branches and bushes but it will likely rip in a high speed impact on trails not covered in snow.
- Semi-fit limits layering options. This is not a jacket in which you could add a mid-layer vest.