Is it Worth it? Kitsbow’s Alpha Snap Jacket Apr 21, 2015


While doing reviews of higher pricepoint products like the Kitsbow Alpha Snap Jacket, I’ve found it’s best to set the expectations in the opening paragraph, so here I am, setting those expectations. Now, this jacket is close to $400. It’s made in Canada, from Polartec® Alpha® insulation, a fabric used by the military for years. Read that as very expensive fabric please. This review’s intent is to answer if indeed, the Alpha Snap Jacket is worth the pricepoint, addressing anyone who might be considering the purchase, yet want more information.

I’m not trying to sell every single reader of this site a $400 jacket, I’m simply showcasing some details and thoughts of said jacket to help anyone who has considered buying it. If you want to read on, please do, if this jacket isn’t for you, no worries, no harm done.


Historically speaking, a Patagonia synthetic down sweater, or jacket have done the trick for me over the years. They’re cheap-ish and Patagonia has always backed their products. They are intended to pack down, keep you warm and be nondescript. Truth be told, I’ll still use my trusty down jacket, but on our recent outing with the Blackburn rangers I opted out of taking it with me in lieu of the Alpha Snap Jacket. Mostly because I liked the way it fit, how small it packed down and yeah, how it looked.


Looks sell. Nothing against down or synthetic down jackets, but everyone on Earth wears them. Sometimes it’s nice to have something different and unique. Still holding onto functionality however, the product has to look sharp and fit exactly how you want it to. The Alpha Snap Jacket fit like a glove on what I would consider my large frame.


Fit and functionality:
There was enough stretch at the back and enough movement across the chest. As soon as the sun set each day, I threw it on, slept in it and continued to wear it as the sun began to warm the California coastline. When I was done wearing it, I strapped it onto my saddle bag, or packed it into a compression sack and if we stopped for lunch, I threw it on immediately to keep warm in the chilly coastline shade.

Was it warmer than my synthetic down jacket? I think so. It was only during the first night where the temperatures dropped to the mid-30s that I wished I had brought some warmer clothes (like pants). Yet I never got too hot once I got into my sleeping bag with the jacket on. While riding, I was impressed how well it breathed, something you don’t achieve with down.




The Alpha Snap jacket is constructed like a article of clothing at this pricepoint should be. You’re not paying an absurd markup like you are when you buy products made overseas. In fact, I know the exact margin Kitsbow makes on this one and it’s surprisingly low. The materials, buttons, sewing and construction is all top notch. There is Schoeller 3X Dry Paneling on the elbows, Polartec Power Stretch throughout the main fabric and fleece lined pockets. It feels like you’re wearing a custom piece of apparel, yet there’s so much going on in terms of detailing.



Is it Worth it?
Look, $400 is a fuckload of money for a jacket and I’m not telling you to buy it, but if you were on the fence and needed an opinion on the Alpha Snap jacket, I’d say it’s a worthy investment. Here’s my caveat: I was sent this jacket from Polartec, with zero obligations to talk about it, much less put up a review, I did all of this on my own accord, because I really do think this jacket is worth it, if you have the means to buy it.

See more at Kitsbow.

  • hey

    Back to being a sales guy I see, white lifestyle of the trustee

    • Dobry

      I don’t know what John does in his spare time, but I doubt he’s on a board of directors or someone holding funds for another (a trustee, in other words).

      I’m going to hazard a guess that he is white, though. So you’re 1/13 on words in that the comment …

      • Matthew J

        And add to that, Kitsbow is a pretty small outfit. Not likely they have an unlimited marketing budget to lavish on spokes people.

    • John Watson

      Hey look, an anonymous comment! How brave.

    • Leslie


      Also, you’re a douchebag. Go home.

    • Keith Gibson

      Spare me- never seen John say “buy this”

    • Kerry Nordstrom

      J could make many more piles of cash (seriously, I doubt he even has one pile) as an architect. Personally, I’d rather string freelance gigs together doing what I love than sit at a desk or collect a check from a trust.

  • Dobry

    Why are you forcing me to buy a $400 jacket?!

    Just kidding. I appreciate the good write-up. I don’t know if I’ll buy this particular jacket any time soon but this is food for thought for the purchase of any high-end sporting article.

  • Matthew J

    I have one. JW’s review is spot on. The jacket is lightweight and tough.

    As an outer layer it is warm and breathes well. In cold or very windy conditions I wear it under a light weight fully sealed rain jacket. Very warm in that set up.

    • tb

      Matthew J., what would that lightweight rain jacket be? I’m looking for something like that, sub $100 please.


      • Matthew J

        Afraid I can’t help in that price range. My riding rain jacket is the Mission Workshop Meridian. Worth the $ for me anyway. 260 grams without the hood and packs smaller than a sandwich. I’ve worn it through a couple of driving rainstorms – no leaking. It is comfortable and 1.5 years in proving durable.

        • tb

          Thanks for the reply. I’ve been looking at the OR Helium 2 that can be had for about $100. It might just work.

  • Keith Gibson

    Thanks for the write up. I agree it is quite the chunk of change, however, it seems to be high quality and will last as long as you want it to. People still do pay for high quality gear.

  • kasual

    I’ve wanted this jacket for a minute, nice to see a good write-up. Price is a barrier for sure, but because I don’t have it, not because I don’t think it’s worth it. Like the man says, if it’s not for you, move on, no harm done, but don’t harass because John is profiling some nice, domestically made, gear on the site.

  • Matt O’Donnell

    I was scoping that jacket the whole trip. I was jelly because you looked a lot toastier than I did in my icon shirt.

  • Ted Barbeau

    The recovering roadie in me is glad there’s a MTB-specific brand that nerds out on fabric, fit, and function as hard as high-end road gear makers. $400 is a far too rich for my blood but I have a couple of jerseys and the shorts system (base and outer) that I doubt will need to be replaced anytime soon. Buy once and forget about it…

  • Kevin

    I invested in the Icon Shirt over the winter. Best clothing purchase of 2014 for me. For me fit comes first. The Kitsbow team really has it dialed in. If It doest fit comfortably it tends to get lost in my closet. If I can trust a brand with fit then I am likely to come back. Add simple and functional style and you have a frequent customer. Kitsbow is paying attention to these details and it shows. Nice review dude.

  • tylernol

    I have a Polartec Alpha jacket//hoody made by someone else, that insulation is quite nice and has obsoleted some older insulated pieces for its light weight and warmth.

  • krashdavage

    That is a very smart looking jacket

  • Elliot Wilkinson-Ray

    Impressive elevation of the intelligent comment, John I think you’re making people smarter, nice work!

  • FF

    I’d like to know about the stuff you get sent but do not review.

    Personally I’d be hesitent not to review a $400 jacket if I was given it as a “gift” but that’s just me..

    ” zero obligations to talk about it”


    also you made a review

    were you not paid for that either?

    • John Watson

      I don’t get paid for any reviews. The only money I receive is for the banner ads.

  • bongofruit

    Appreciate the review and the disclaimers Mr. Watson. This jacket is beyond what I am willing to invest in a jacket but I respect the craftsmanship that went into it.

  • ff

    But where is that watch cap from?

    • ff

      we need capswers!

      • John Watson

        Tanner Goods!

  • Raoul Morley

    You see the problem with this review is I WANT o e of these even more now…

    • evilgordon

      It would suit you Raoul. You were missed on Saturday.

  • evilgordon

    I think the term ‘fuckload of money’ should be used more often.

  • Chris Reichel

    That was a refreshingly honest review.

  • andre michaud

    Hi guys, Acc manager for a specialized Work garment Manufacturer. Nice product, but still a glorified shirt , they should have it made in Cheap Labor Land and sell for 1/3 of price!

    • John Watson

      Missing the point

  • Jake Riehle

    Hey John, what size did you get in this and do you have the Icon shirt too? If so, what size did you get for that? Thanks!

    • John Watson

      Large in this, XL in the icon

      • Jake Riehle

        Roger. Thanks John.

  • David Quinn Jr.

    Looks like a sweat essential piece of got get some. Nice piece !!