"It’s hard to stand out in the insulating layer arena in 2020. Just about everyone is making a good puffy (or several of them) these days, and the main differences seem to come down to things like color, which insulation they choose, and how ethically sourced that insulation is. But Beringia’s new foray into the world of performance insulation, the Altai Over Hoody, brings a unique blend of warmth, well-thought-out features, and utility to the mix that help it stand out..."
Read the full, detailed review at Blister Report: https://blisterreview.com/gear-reviews/beringia-altai-over-hoody
The fit on the Altai Over Hoody is generous. It fits longer and looser than the Mountain Equipment Prophet, and very similarly to the Patagonia Stretch Nano Storm Jacket. I found that it fit easily even over a big resort shell, and doesn’t feel restrictive at all. The arms are long and the cuffs cover my gloves, even when I’m tomahawking.
Because of its generous cut, the Altai doesn’t fit very well under a shell — you end up looking a little like the Michelin Man. Which is to be expected; it’s literally called an “over hoody,” after all. If you’re on the smaller end of your size spectrum (e.g., if you can alternate between Large and Medium jackets) you can probably size down. I personally am on the taller end of the “Large” size spectrum and feel like the size Large Altai Over Hoody fits me perfectly, whether over a shell or just over my base layer, as long as there’s nothing on top of it.
If I had to choose one word for this review, it would be “generous.” The Altai’s hood is nice and big, it fits easily over ski helmets and climbing helmets, and even works over the hood of a shell jacket. It doesn’t have any kind of wire brim, but I haven’t had any issues with it flopping into my field of view. It’s got a cinch adjust on the back and on the sides that are easy to adjust, even with gloves on.
The Altai’s pockets are — you guessed it — generous. Actually, they’re huge and awesome.
The two front hand pockets have swallowed any of my skins with ease (up to 120mm-wide by 185cm-long with no problem). They do a pretty good job of staying out of the way of backpack straps as well, and work well as handwarmer pockets.
The Altai Over Hoody’s two inner pockets are also large. They’re just simple mesh drop-in pockets but they’d easily fit most skins as well, or your goggles or extra gloves. They’re big and easy to use. And I appreciate that the mesh has an elastic band along the top so they’re more secure than some drop-in pockets I’ve used with looser openings.
I wouldn’t mind the Altai having some sort of small upper pocket, either internal or external. There’s not a great place to put your phone in the current layout, and in the outer pockets, a phone has a tendency to slide down to the bottom and get in a fight with my pack’s waistband. This is a tiny and generally unimportant complaint, though.
The Altai Over Hoody has two other features of note that are pretty uncommon: its thumb loops and sleeve zippers.
The thumb loops are just simple straps across the ends of the sleeves that you can hook a thumb through. They’re big enough that it’s easy to do, even with gloves. This helps keep the sleeves from riding up. Personally, I don’t really use them, but if they’re not your jam, they’re easy to cut off, and it’s nice to have the option.
The Altai’s sleeve zippers are unique, at least from the layers I’ve seen. Each arm has a locking zipper (doesn’t randomly come undone) from the cuff to about the elbow. These make it possible to unzip the Altai into, essentially, a short-sleeved coat.
I was skeptical initially since I’ve never really felt a need to do that, but in practice, it’s pretty slick. The sleeve tucks back up and stays out of the way. This allows you to dump a little heat out the arms, but also makes a lot of sense in a camping scenario where you’re trying to keep from burning or staining your sleeves while using a stove. I have more than one puffy with melted cuffs. It’s nice to know I can just unzip the Altai’s arms out of the way.
Weight & Packability
At a measured weight of 604 grams for a size Large, the Altai Over Hoody is quite light, particularly for how much insulation it offers. It’s not as light as some down options, or synthetic jackets with lighter-weight insulation, but it’s quite light for how warm it is, and the fact that it uses a synthetic insulation.
There are a couple of ways you can pack down the Altai Jacket. It packs into its own hood, and I also found that it’s easy to pack it into its own mesh pocket. However, I usually ended up packing it into a stuff sack with my spare gloves and hat. It doesn’t pack down quite as small as the Prophet Jacket, but it’s much more packable than the Patagonia Stretch Nano Storm. Packed down, I’d say the Altai is about the size of a 32-oz Nalgene bottle.