RRP: £39 (non-Polygeine version currently discounted)
Weight: 225g (size 10)
Men’s version also available
With base and mid-layer tops now regulary priced at well over £50, it’s refreshing to find something at the cheaper end of the spectrum, but wanted plenty of time to put it through its paces in different conditions to see if lower cost equals poor quality.
The Griffon women’s hooded top is made from a lightweight, relatively-thin fleece with a grid pattern on the reverse which traps air. The material is stretchy and whilst the design is fitted, the sizing is fairly generous for a top that is supposed to be close fitting. I’ve been wearing it pretty much non-stop for the last couple of months and its been equally comfortable as a base layer (the full length zip is the only downside to wearing it like this) or over a close fitting T shirt. Used next to the skin it’s fleecy inner and flat seams feel luxurious, wicks well and moves with your body. The garment packs down really well and provides as much warmth as most micro-fleeces. Combined with a lightweight windshirt its been more than adequate for warmer spring days on the hills and it’s lack of bulk means its useful as a layering piece fitting easily under not-so-roomy insulation and waterproof layers.
The hood is close fitting so would go under a helmet; its well-shaped and doesn’t restrict head movement. As it doesn’t block wind its probably useful only for occasional use. There are comfortable thumb loops which I tend to like for the added warmth, padding when riding a bike or keeping the sun off part of my hands, but they do mean that the arm length is long which won’t suit everyone. There is a small zipped chest pocket, really only large enough to take a key or other small item; I’m not convinced this is a useful feature for most walkers although I like the clean lines that come without having any other larger pockets. The women’s version comes in sizes 8 – 16 and the men’s in S to XXL.
The garment washes well with no change of shape or colour after numerous washes and it drys very quickly. The only sign of wear and tear after almost continuous use over 2 months is a little bit of bobbling on the fabric on the undersides of the arms but in general the fabric feels robust and the two-tone effect is forgiving for spills and stains.
Available from Alpkit online or from their Hathersage or Ambleside shops, this version is now discounted having been replaced by a newer model incorporating Polygiene odour control technology. Having been impressed with Polygiene on other review products this would be selling factor for me although the version without this was not overly smelly after longer wears, certainly no more than other wicking tops. In general, a really useful, lightweight layer that punches well above its weight in terms of performance and price.
Pros: price, performance