The First Ascent Hyalite Jacket is an insulated soft shell jacket designed for high aerobic activities with lots of stop-and-go such as ice climbing or backcountry skiing. To accommodate this kind of user the Hyalite is not a super warm jacket but one that will keep you warm while on the move or as part of a layering system. The First Ascent Hyalite Jacket uses 60g Primaloft One insulation which is not as warm as your average down puffy but provides a good barrier to the cold while you are moving. Being a soft shell there is built-in breathability. This is optimized by the integrated non-insulated soft shell fabric under the arms which use 8.9 oz 50-denier stretch fabric so it lets the heat out where you generate it most. Add to this cross-stitched rear insulation on the back and you get increased ventilation and less fabric on your back where your pack sits (check out the photo below to really get this). If you still need to dump serious heat then the First Ascent Hyalite Jacket comes with large pit zips under each arm - not something you typically see in a soft shell piece. All of these features allow you to constantly regulate your temperature as you expend more or less energy throughout the day.
Cross-stitched rear insulation on the back.
Non-insulated soft shell fabric under the arms which use 8.9 oz 50-denier stretch fabric.
The First Ascent Hyalite Jacket has an active fit with a bit of natural fabric stretch so it fits and moves well with your body for aerobic winter activities. The Hyalite was designed by ice-climbing guide Chad Peele, so you know it will maximize mobility and be more than adequate for your ski touring outings. The Hyalite also comes with one massive insulated hood (think 'down puffy' warmth here) which cinches firmly around any helmet and will keep you warm. The generous hood brim keeps the snow out of your face and lets you auger in should the wind pick up.
This is a jacket that will repel the elements thanks to its 'StormRepel DWR' and also resist abrasions with the 5.54 oz 75-denier soft shell fabric. The PrimaLoft One synthetic insulation provides reliable warmth even if you should somehow get drenched - down jacket, not so much.
Fabrics: Polyester/nylon/spandex shell; nylon lining
Soft shell Body: 5.54 oz 75-denier fabric with a StormRepel® DWR finish
Soft shell under arm panels: 8.9 oz 50-denier stretch fabric with a StormRepel® DWR finish
Insulation: 60G Primaloft® One, Ultra-warm, super-compressible loft stays warm when wet
Hood: Fits easily over a ski or climbing helmet
Cuffs: Velcro closure system.
Hem: Adjustable hem to keep the snow out.
Zippers: Smooth-slider Vislon® Zippers, won’t snag or catch to slow you down.
Pockets: Two deep hand warmer pockets as well as one chest pocket and an internal media pcoket so you can stow gear.
Pit Zips: Long underarm vents allow you to dump heat quickly.
I have been running the First Ascent Hyalite Jacket for a few months now in three very different configurations. The first is as a standalone capacity around town. I have the Limeade colour and this gets you noticed, by cars and people - you could start directing traffic in this thing if you really wanted to. Secondly it is my insulation layer while rippin' laps at the resort. The Hyalite keeps me warm under my hard shell and also provides the flexibility to ski in just the Hyalite if the weather permits. I can't say the same for my light weight down puffy as it kept me too warm when layered and offers no venting options. Thirdly, the First Ascent Hyalite Jacket is a great backcountry ski touring piece. Seventy-Five percent of the time this is all you would need to wear, I always carry the hard shell for extra protection from the elements and a light down just in case you need to spend the night out. Remember the Hyalite will keep you warm but it's not a replacement for the emergency down jacket.
Size: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colour: Limeade, Black
Weight: 1lb 13oz / 822g
The benefits of a soft shell with adequate insulation to keep you warm and the ability to regulate your body heat easily. A great stand alone or integrated piece in your layering strategy.
Some say it is a bit on the pricey side but if you appreciate quality design and attention to detail then it is money well spent.
Quality / Price 1.5/2
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation. Check back mid-season to see how our review stands up to our in-the-field testing.