Review: Arktis A192 Stowaway Shirt (Alpine)

When I think of “ally” or “Gucci” kit, my mind instantly goes back to the mid 90s; Silvermans, Combat & Survival and perhaps most memorably, the Arktis catalogue… You know, the old paper one with an order form in the back and a whole range of things to ogle at: Modular split front assault vests, covert pistol/radio holster rigs and the classic “Zoot Suit”. I think my first ever geardo purchase was a 42 pattern chest rig that replaced my ACF issued 58 pattern webbing, yes… I was that guy.

Not this guy… He’s running around with a Gimpy and a bag full of link… He’s far cooler than I could ever hope to be.

But I think it’s fair to say that around the turn of the century, Arktis fell away from most people’s consciousness, with newcomers to the niche world of tactical kit often looking at non-domestic brands before seeking British made nylon goods.

However, I will balance this rather sweeping statement out though by saying that Arktis are universally given a big thumbs up when speaking to those who’ve taken their gear out into the field. And that’s a far better testimonial than the words of a gear whore airsofter.

It’s fair to say, I’m a big fan of the Arktis 42 Pattern Chest Rig. If I ever had to choose one rig for all occasions, this would be the one I’d be putting others against for comparison.

But that’s enough waffle, let’s get onto the stowaway shirt: Why I bought it, and why I think you should too!

The Arktis A192 Stowaway Shirt is a simple item, but that’s exactly why I like it so much.

There’s no pockets, no Velcro loop fields, absolutely no bullshit… It’s just a plain old pullover wind-shirt with a hood. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a few little details in it’s design, but it doesn’t complicate what it is or what it’s trying to do.

Starting with the overall shape, it’s very generously cut and perfect for slipping over your casual fleece or low loft mid layer when the wind starts to blow.

Made from an ultra thin and lightweight fabric referred to as Patriot Lite 2oz Nylon, the Alpine Stowaway is incredibly packable. The medium sizing weighs in at under 200g, and even the mammoth XXXL (thats all they had left in Alpine) coming in at a respectable 214g makes this one of the lightest in it’s class.

Its worth noting that the Multicam Alpine Stowaway I have is a limited edition, and the fabric used is different to the Nylon MiniRip used on other A192 Stowaway Shirts. I don’t currently have one to compare, but I believe the Alpine is slightly thinner and lighter than it’s brothers, and it also lacks the MiniRip rip-stop chequering found on other Stowaways.

Spot the airsofter…

Starting from the top of the Stowaway, a generously sized hood gives you head protection at the expense of not being able to tuck it away when not needed. Within the brim of the hood is a fixed, non adjustable elastic cord. Whilst not being adjustable might seem a little odd, you’ve got to ask yourself how often you actually need to adjust a hood against how often those toggles get in the way. In my opinion, less in this case is more.

The alpine pattern works great against snow, disruptive enough to diffuse your outline but solid enough to blend in with heavy snow.

A 9” long 1/4 length zipper runs down the chest, allowing you to pop the garment on without struggling, whilst remaining slender enough to not interfere with the Stowaway’s overall flexibility.

An elastic cord runs around the bottom of the Stowaway, and a toggle on the left hand side of the hem allow you to cinch it tight, preventing unwanted drafts.

Moving to the arms, there’s enough material to accommodate the biggest of biceps. Even when worn over other garments, I’ve not suffered any loss in range of movement.

The cuffs are elasticated, providing a close fit without the unwanted bulk of Velcro cuffs, but still keeping the Stowaway in check in places where flapping material is a real pain in the arse.

When not in use, the whole stowaway packs up inside its own pocket. This pocket is formed as part of the back, and has it’s own drawstring to keep it all cinched up tight. When wrapped up, the entire shirt takes up no more room than your average apple.

An overlock stitch is used to tidy up the few seams there are on the jacket, providing a secure and long-lasting finish that I have to say, is near stitch perfect in it’s execution.

That’s about all I can say about the actual design, except to remark on the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment applied to the shirt. It provides a modest amount of shower resistance, but without removing the breathability of the fabric.

Black trousers are apparently not a good choice in the snow, but in my defence, this was a very time sensitive photoshoot.

Will it keep you dry in a storm? No, but it should be enough for quick showers and drizzly days. Let’s not forget that Arktis make a dedicated waterproof layer (The A310 Rainshield) that’s a far better garment to wear if rain is more likely than not, it’s all about choosing the right tool for the job.

As for how it works in the wind, it does what’s asked. A wind-shirt is primarily designed to act as a wind defeating barrier, keeping an air gap between the elements and your mid or base layer.

Again, this isn’t some wonder garment that’s going to solve all your problems, but used within an effective layering system it can provide you with a little bit of protection without the weight penalty of a heavy jacket.

But are there any things I would like to change? Well I’m short leg/tall bodied, so I’d have loved another couple of inches length in the body, but that being said, it only rides up when I’ve been prone with my arms in front (and even then, not quite enough to create a gap).

Asking for anything else I feel would be asking for a different product… This does exactly what it sets out to do. As for sizing, order above your jacket size to make sure you can wear it as intended… As with most things in life, a little too big isn’t ever as much of a problem as a little too small.

I was rather fortunate to grab one of these limited edition Stowaway Shirts in Multicam Alpine and to be honest, my primary reason for buying was actually to use it as an snow over-white shirt rather than a wind-shirt.

Hopefully Arktis are able to act upon how successful their limited Alpine run was and re-release the pattern in future batches of the Stowaway, but for those who can’t wait and are looking to fulfil a similar need to my own; the Stowaway is available in Arktis’ own Tundra pattern which should be rather effective at breaking up your outline on a snowy backdrop.

Can I recommend the Stowaway? Absolutely. I’m even considering a second shirt for more general use, and at a price of around £50, the hardest decision will be picking which colour!

The A192 Stowaway Shirt in this review was purchased direct from Arktis’ online web-store (without their knowledge that this would be reviewed). The Alpine colour is unfortunately a limited edition, but most other colours are generally available from stock.