The newly released ⅓ Zip Alpha® Direct Pullover by Vado Apparel landed in my lap at just the right time, with evening lows dipping to 39°F and brisk mornings taking longer to warm up than those dog days of summer.
As I crest the 3,600 mile mark of a multi-month bikepacking trip along the Eastern Divide Trail, I find myself in the deep, dark woods of the Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, North Carolina — donning my Vado ⅓ zip Pullover as part of my daily routine.
The handcrafted pullover is made from Polertec's patented Alpha ® ️ Direct fabric, which is soft, fuzzy, comfortable, lightweight, extremely breathable and highly compressible. The lofted fiber regulates body heat and dries incredibly quickly.
It's a great all around fabric for fall, when I tend to start my adventures chilled, then warm up and sweat during efforts, before cooling back down when I stop to snack, admire the views or begin heading downhill.
The Vado pullover expels excess heat and moisture well, and the warmth of the Alpha® Direct fabric gives me a layer of insulation and protection from the elements.
The Vado layer is fitted enough to wear under a rain shell or puffy jacket without it feeling bulky. This significantly increases its insulating powers, because the highly breathable fabric is now blocked from the wind.
If I start to get warm on a hefty climb or in the high heat of midday in the Southern Appalachians, I can unzip the front of the Vado pullover, or push the elasticized cuffs on the sleeves up my arms and know they'll stay where I put them!
When the mercury finally surpasses sweater weather, the Vado easily packs down into a small, svelte roll. I stash it away in my bike bags, or on my handlebar harness for quick and easy access.
The electric teal color is a show stopper, and combined with such a stylish cut, I can comfortably transition from outdoor adventure to indoor dining without feeling like I need to change my clothes.
I absolutely love the hood, which has a great, face-framing shape. It keeps out the cold, fits perfectly under my bike helmet, and adds an extra level of coziness when I cruise downhill.
Now, let's talk about zippers. Zippers are super helpful, but they can also be cold and uncomfortable against your skin and chin, and underlayers can get caught up in them.
Vado has thought this through with a beautifully integrated zipper guard. At first glance, it seemed like it would be bulky and weigh the front of the sweater down, but it turned out to be the perfect softness, shape and weight.
The drop tail hem keeps the fabric from riding up under a pack or flapping in the breeze, and the elasticized cuffs and hem edge the sweater for a nice, classy finish. The craftsmanship of Vado Apparel is on point.
I wear my Vado Alpha Direct ⅓ Zip Pullover to bed and sleep in it, leave it on in the mornings until the sun really breaks, put it on mid afternoon for shady spells, and then wear it all evening after riding. It's so versatile!
After two straight weeks of daily (and nightly) wear without wash, the odor resistant fabric had a light, barely noticeable musk.
The only downside with the Alpha Direct fabric is that it's more fragile than other insulating textiles and therefore, demands more care and attention from the user.
My sweet Vado Pullover has already fallen victim to a snag from a passing branch, resulting in a small hole. And, let's just say that velcro is its arch nemesis.
Also, you may find that small bits of fleece shed off any Alpha Direct apparel, especially in the beginning.
As for sizing, I'm 5'5” and 140 lbs, and found the relaxed fit in medium to be a bit longer in the arms and torso than I would like. My next purchase will be a size small. That said, the medium fits my partner Mat, who is 5'5” and 150 lbs to perfection. (He's the studly model in the pictures ; )
Overall, the packability, compressibility, breathability and versatility of the Vado Alpha Direct ⅓ Zip Pullover make it a great choice for colder weather adventures. It’s comfortable, stylish, lightweight, quick drying and temperature regulating.
- Quick drying
- Temperature regulating
- Soft and comfortable
- Great for layering
- Impeccably crafted
- Made in USA
- Elasticized cuffs and hem
- Fragile fabric
- Fabric can shed
Weight (in size Medium):
60gsm: 4.4oz | 125g
90gsm: 5.2 oz | 150g
Materials: Polartec Alpha Direct 60gsm (Teal) or 90gsm (Black, Sage)
Made in the USA
Cost: $138 - $140
Ali Becker is a freelance adventure writer and narrative storyteller who shares compelling conversations about personal transformations, overcoming limitations, wellness education and adventurous situations. You can follow her rambling adventures on social at @thisisalibecker.