- Ground Effect Baked Alaska
- NZ$149 (about £47)
Ground Effect’s Baked Alaska is designed to bridge “the gap between summer and winter”, which sounds like a pretty close description of the UK at any time of year. As befits a multi-purpose garment, the Baked Alaska is made from two different materials. Most of it – the back, the sides and the sleeves – is made of Heatwave Merino, a blend of the famous New Zealand wonder wool and polyester. The idea is that the Merino sits against your skin feeling all soft and doing its magic wicking thing, while the polyester provides a durable outer layer.
The front of the panel is WindFoil fleece – polyester microfleece on the outside, wicking mesh on the inside and a windproof PU membrane between the two. It’s all held together by the now de rigeur flatlock seams. There’s a long zip at the front and two zipped pockets (plus some reflective piping) round the back.
There are of course a couple of Ground Effect trademarks. The elastic thumb loops keep the sleeves in place (although we didn’t have a problem with them riding up without) and there’s a puncture repair patch hidden in one of the pockets.
The cut is deliberately close – there’s not much point going to great lengths to make a super-efficient wicking garment and then having it sitting two inches from your skin. In use it’s just lovely. It’s soft to the touch and really does manage to be warm and cool at the same time. The two fabrics work well together, and the polyester mix on the sleeves seems to be reasonably resistant to snagging.
It’s descibed as being for “cool, not cold” conditions – if the Baked Alaska isn’t warm enough for you, there are two options. Either take a look at Ground Effect’s Frosty Boy – a very similar top, but with Windfoil on the sleeves and sides too, and thicker microfleece everywhere else. Oor just stick a thin base layer under it – we’ve been plenty warm enough in biting icy winds with a base layer, Baked Alaska and a jacket. There’s also a women’s version of the Alaska called the Popsicle – same fabrics, different cut.
Positives: Soft to the touch, well-made, snug fit, well-pitched level of warmth, good price
Negatives: Bit of a nuisance to send back to New Zealand if you get the wrong size
We can’t think of a thing that we don’t like about this top. And at NZ$149 (about £47 according to Ground Effect) it’s something of a bargain too. The only real downside is that you have to mail order it from the other side of the planet, so there’s little scope for trying one on first. There’s plenty of sizing advice on Ground Effect’s site, though.