Saturday 1 February 2014

PHD Alpamayo Smock - long term comments

I bought my PHD Alpamayo Smock in April 2011.

Mine was the first version of PHD's Alpamayo Smock and used HS3 - a 3 layer laminate and this has proved to be a superb waterproof and breathable material.

I bought the smock version for a very simple reason: less chance of any water ingress.

To deal with any chance of water getting in via the short zip there was a storm flap.

Behind this was a full sized map pocket and inside the smock was a small zipped pocket.

The hood adjustment ties were neatly teathered to the sides of the zipped opening.

Here is the opening showing the features around the zipped opening.

When I first got the PHD Alpamayo Smock I was full of praise for the design, and the fact that it was a proper 4 season smock. Here is my original piece on it:

I followed this up with a further post on the new version:

This later version, a year after I bought my original, was slightly lighter and had YKK Aquaseal zips. It used the same HS3 material.

There has been a lot of comment on Twitter recently about storm flaps.

My own personal preference is to have a smock with storm flaps, but, I have had no experience with YKK Aquaseal zips and can only guess that they do their job well. Otherwise, why do away with the storm flaps?

My PHD Alpamayo will soon be 3 years old.

When I first bought it I was impressed, but, the smock was untested.

I took it up to backpack around Kinder, that April and it didn't rain! In fact on one day I was dehydrated due to the very warm day and lack of water!


I've just re-read my 2011 TGO Challenge account. This trip more than tested gear and those taking part. On this crossing it rained every day for near on 2 weeks.

The Alpamayo proved more than able to cope with the deluges and I never noticed any problems with breathability.

Here is that account:

I believe it says a lot about a waterproof in that it was just there and did it's job superbly.

It was so good, I just accepted that it would not let me down, whatever the weather threw at me.

I've used the PHD Alpamayo on many more wet trips, day trips and backpacking, and still would say it's the best waterproof I've ever owned.

On the 2012 TGO Challenge the stormy Sunday saw folk coping with high winds and driving rain. I never had any issues with the Alpamayo coping with these conditions and keeping me comfortable. I've never noticed any ingress of water - ever. And, I've never noticed any wetting up inside.

Having said this I wear a little as I can get away with under the Alpamayo.

A long sleeve base, light -eg driclime - vest, and windshirt have been my mainstays for backpacking in cold wet conditions.

This excellent piece on waterproofs, which I read years ago, guided my approach to what I wore.

So, three years on what do I think of it?

It is still, in my opinion, one of the best.

I'll be wearing it on the 2014 TGO Challenge.

It's been well used and abused and shows no obvious signs of wear. I've washed it in Nikwax a few times and the fabric still performs extreamely well.

Would I buy the new version?

Without hesitation!

My original was bought because I had a passion for PHD gear. To be honest, it was buying gear that I had not read any reports on. It was a leap of faith that has more than repayed the investment.

I would rationalise that the YKK Aquaseal zips work. So, unless I see reports to the contrary, I would definately buy the latest version.

Of course, this is highly theoretical, as I still have my original which has never let me down -and it has that little piece of material that gives extra peace of mind - a storm flap.

Here is the latest version which also has pit zips as an option.


  1. Yours looked ace when I saw it. High praise indeed from you and proven. I still think storm flaps matter. Colin Ibbotson been saying it as he got soaking wet on his latest big walk - as water got in via the zip. But the PHD one does look good.

    1. I would trust PHD to have done their homework on this. Storm flaps are so reassuring though.

  2. Sure does.
    Whether I get one will depend upon the Brenig smock ever appearing. If it does for £120 I will take a punt. If not, I am going to bite the bullet, and plunge into emergency funds and get a PHD with the pit zips. In the Orange :-)

    To go with all my other PHD stuff.

    1. The Brenig looks good, but, I must admit that if I were to replace my black Alpamayo Smock it would be with an orange one.

      I wish I had bought orange.

      You only have one tilt at the pinball machine :-)