The Alpha Vertex Jacket: Warmth Without The Bulk
Author: Will Cooper
If you’re like me, then you aren’t a fan of big and bulky jackets to keep you warm during a hunt.
Whether I’m headed to a blind or chasing elk in the mountains, I don’t like having a pack that is the size of a military rucksack. At Pnuma, we had a solution to this; the Insulator System. It was a great mid-layer insulation for all-day sits during the rut or the perfect outer layer for frigid days. So why did we discontinue it? The Insulator was great, but it wasn't very packable. A little over a year ago our design team recognized this and went to work on creating a solution. The answer; the Alpha Vertex System that is lighter, warmer, and packable.
The Alpha Vertex Jacket was the answer to my prayers. It worked perfectly for me in Colorado this past September chasing elk with my bow. We spent most of the day chasing bugles or putting miles on the boots. Before long we quickly learned that setting up for stand sits or cold calling would increase our chances of arrowing a bull. If you’re familiar with elk hunting in September, then you know that it’s cold in the early mornings and can get hot in a hurry. You also learn that what you wear at camp in the morning quickly comes off as soon as you start gaining some elevation and miles. September can also be a time of unpredictable weather. Rain, wind, and snow can appear seemingly out of thin air as the mountains are unforgiving.
In regard to elk hunting, if you choose to set up shop on a wallow or trail, your body tends to get chilled much sooner because your blood isn't moving as much when you're stationary. This is where our Alpha Vertex Jacket came in clutch for me. I was able to pack it down and fit in my pack for when we decided to set up for a cold-calling scenario. The Alpha Vertex jacket isn’t bulky and has an angled-articulated cuff, so I knew I wouldn’t be restricted when I drew back on my bow. The jacket performed seamless for me while on the mountain. I made sure it was in my pack at all times because I knew I would need it for a stand sit or when the temperatures dropped. I used it for exactly this when we had a herd of elk patterned and when I got to have my first experience with a true herd-bull.
An Unforgettable Experience
We knew where the elk were going to be in the evening as we glassed them up earlier in the day from miles away. We saw plenty of cows and what we could tell to be bulls. We weren't sure how big they were, but we knew there were bulls. We got into the area early enough in the day being careful not to blow it up. We set up for a cold-calling situation only letting out a few cow and calf calls. Before long we had a lead cow come running in down wind and behind us. It sounded like a Clydesdale horse running up behind us when we first heard her. She got within about eight yards. We were concerned she would blow the area up and begin barking, but thanks to the Caza pattern; it broke our outline up enough that she didn't know what we were even though she was looking right at us. She couldn't tell what we were. By some miracle, she didn't care about our wind or thermals going directly to her.
Soon after this encounter, we heard a big and nasty bugle crack off just below the meadow. When we looked up the herd was right in our laps. I began to count and stopped at fifteen cows, but no bull yet. He kept bugling, but hadn't made an appearance yet. If we bugled, he would bugle. We started to play his game by cutting him off and that really got him fired up. Then he appeared in the middle of his cows. A beautiful 6x6 bull with sweeping tines, chocolate antlers, and ivory white tips. A true herd bull. He walked with a swagger that was graceful and demanding of respect. He had complete control of his cows. There were no other bulls in the area to challenge him. This bull didn't get this big for being ignorant. We knew this would be a tough bull to get an arrow in and the only way was to piss him off enough to leave the cows. We were able to achieve that briefly. I bugled at his cows calling them to me. When he saw a few of his cows going to me; thinking it was another bull sweet-talking his ladies, he immediately got between me and his cows. Unfortunately, a shot didn't present itself and he pushed his herd further up the mountain. We decided to play it safe and get out as we lost shooting light and the temperatures began to drop. With our gear on and trekking poles in hand, we headed back down the mountain as he continued to bugle slapping his victory in my face. While we didn't get an arrow in a bull, I consider this a success.
Warmth and Freedom
What I loved most about this jacket is the versatility it provides. I would use the jacket anytime we stopped and knew we would be sitting for an extended amount of time. As soon as we were ready to move, it was fairly easy to get back down to my base layers, pack the jacket, and be on the way in a short amount of time. As our hunt went on, the aspens began to turn gold signaling the fall and cooler weather. The temperatures tended to linger on the cooler side of things so I found myself needing to wear the Alpha Vertex for longer periods of time even when hiking. With the jacket being light and warm it was just right for the situation.
I’m a fairly skinny guy and get cold easily so I knew the Alpha Vertex would end up being my go-to piece. I used to wear our Gunnison Hoodie ninety percent of the time but it didn’t always keep me warm when the temps began to drop in the lower forties. With 100 grams of Primaloft insulation, form-fitted wide hood, and a coating of DWR to keep the jacket windproof as well as water resistant; the Alpha Vertex Jacket does the job. This is a jacket that provides warmth without the bulk giving you freedom of movement when needing to draw back on an animal. I can confidently say I never ran into an issue and stayed warm while taking a stand in the mountains. I also loved that I could pack the jacket down into its own integrated stuff sack that doubles as an inner pocket.
Even though I wasn't able to arrow a bull, I am looking forward to getting full use out of this jacket this fall while chasing after whitetail. I will more than likely spend a ridiculous amount of time in a tree or stand looking to arrow a big buck with my bow. This will be the perfect jacket for me on those chilly November mornings in Texas.
The bottom line? Alpha is the successor to our popular Insulator line, and it is definitely an upgrade in every sense. It's thinner yet warmer due to its Primaloft insulation, so it delivers all-season warmth and breathability without the bulk. It's durable, windproof, and water-resistant, meaning no matter what type of hunt you are on, you will be comfortable enough to stay in the field as long as it takes. Alpha will be a suit that goes with you on every hunt for years to come.