Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 Ski Jacket: Blizzard-Worthy Style
Wondering why we chose the Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 Ski Jacket as our burliest option for harsh winter weather in our Best Ski Jackets story? We have our reasons: DWR-treated, breathable, and comfortable material, RECCO search-and-rescue technology, specifically-placed insulation to keep your smart phone’s battery running longer in freezing temps, and body-mapped insulation to keep what’s more important (aka, you) warm and happy on the slopes — to name a few. The flattering fit and great color choices don’t hurt, either.
This type of jacket says you mean business but know how to throw down on the bumps. While it comes at a premium price, you’ll understand why once you realize just how much it can do for your ski days.
Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0: Test Time
I braved New England’s winter playground for a few late-winter ski days in Maine and New Hampshire in the Alpha 3.0. Besides the flip-up reflective hood stripe (which helped my ski partners to find me among the vacation-week crowd), the dual warmth and breathability of this jacket truly stood out. Helly Hansen provided insulation in the places most needed (the core and the arms) and set vents strategically placed in high-output areas (like underarms and the mid-back). This gave me the ability to ski hot laps without drowning in sweat and then freezing in the lift line back up.
The two-ply, four-way full stretch fabric is waterproof, windproof, and still breathable. What does all of this mean? It means you can ski from the first chair to the last bell in blizzards, whiteout conditions, and blower snow without feeling wet or cold. However, if the sky opens up to a bluebird day or you’re hustling up a ridge to catch first tracks when patrol drops that rope, the breathable fabric dumps out excess heat that would normally make you sweat. (I tested this out when she had to sprint back across the parking lot for her brother’s ski pass. The pit zips that run down to mid-chest were a godsend after that.) Helly Hansen’s seam-sealed, DWR-treated, and fully insulated (with premium Primaloft Gold and Black Hi-Loft insulation) jacket will keep you warm and comfortable through your entire ski vacation — and will earn you more than one appreciative nod in the lift line.
In Review: Justifyin’ the Buy-In
What makes this jacket worth the $475 MSRP? Top-notch technology and the kind of handy features that make gear nerds giggle with joy. The Alpha 3.0 sports an external ski pass pocket on the left forearm, two chest pockets (with a ski goggle shammy and the LIFE POCKET insulating layer for your phone), two insulated hand pockets, and internal dump pockets to keep your gloves, neck gaiters, and snacks warm and safe.
The hood is helmet-compatible and detaches easily via zipper and velcro, but uses specialized sleeves. These sleeves work to keep snow out of your collar and to keep the hood attached when you need it most. The sleeves also feature wrist gaiters with thumbholes and velcro-adjustable straps to keep snow out of your jacket arms and ski gloves. The taped zipper keeps snow and water from entering your jacket, and the zippers are big enough for gloved hands to grab and open easily.
But the piéce de resistance? This ski jacket holds RECCO Advanced Rescue technology (essentially a magnetic tracking device) that is detectable from the air should you get lost in the sidecountry or if an avalanche sweeps through. Thanks to the latest innovations, this search and rescue tech doesn’t add extra gear/weight to your person and helps rescuers locate lost adventurers much more easily. As a professional guide, volunteer Search and Rescue technician, and apparent jacket connoisseur, I am all about this feature.
At the end of the day, the Alpha 3.0 blends the best of quality, warmth, comfort, technical performance, and thoughtful life-hacking features. While it’s certainly not the best budget option on the market, it’s no Arc’teryx Macai, either.
Helly Hansen is a staple name in rough-and-rugged industries like Alaskan fishing, alpine skiing, and sailing alike; the company’s quality is nearly impossible to beat. If you want good looks with even better warmth and technology, stop searching; you found it in HH’s Alpha 3.0 ski jacket.