Arc'teryx Alpha SL Jacket
Price Paid: $275
The Arc'teryx Alpha SL Jacket that I recently purchased is great! It's very close-fitting, and so requires a pretty athletic build to fit comfortably. However, this also means that there isn't any loose fabric to get caught on branches, add weight, or rustle noisily. In fact, it's very soft and quiet. It's also incredibly light and packs into a ball nearly the size of my fist.
Despite its light fabric, I've taken it out into a very hard rain that recently flooded Chicago and I stayed completely dry underneath. As with any Gore-tex waterproof, it's going to get a little steamy if you're active, but the pit zips are large and easily managed even with gloves.
The sleeves are well articulated and stay at my wrist even when fully extended or bent at the elbow. I think my favorite feature, however, is the hood. It has three different cord adjustments so that the hood will fit over a helmet or very snuggly around your head. The problem I often have with helmet-compatible hoods is that there's too much room when there's no helmet worn. In wind, the hood flops around and gets in the way or leaves too much of a gap around the face for rain to get in. Not this one - properly adjusted it stuck to my face and turned with my head.
My only criticism is that the front cords that cinch the hood around the face are left a bit too loose when pulled tight. I would have preferred to be able to pull excess cords into the jacket instead of having a big loop of them flapping around on each side of my head. They don't flap much though, and the complaint is a small one.
Though I intend on hiking with this jacket, it probably shouldn't be used under backpacks weighing over 20 lbs because it's so light and the shoulders aren't reinforced. I'm a 5ft 3in man, so I purchased a size Small Women's and it fit perfectly. Oh, and the Wasabi color rocks!
I've owned an Alpha SL for several years, and it provided great service for hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking... as well as around town on rainy days. It was easily the most frequently used item in my collection of gear.
So light and compact, great to pack along on bike trips as a wind/rain shell, and also very warm due to the tight closures. The hood is wonderful, easily fitting over a bike or climbing helmet... easy on, easy off. Don't worry about the hood being too bulbous, it has several adjustments that make it fit and keep it out of your line of sight. It also tucks down into the neck if you don't need it (not very aesthetic, but certainly functional).
The one weak point is the zippers: though they are a very light design for a waterproof closure without flaps, they are also somewhat vulnerable to wear. The front zip and pocket zip on my jacket eventually gave up and became unreliable... separating unpredictably.
I sent the jacket back to Arc'teryx for repair, but they decided to replace it with a new Alpha SL instead... so their great customer service more than made up for the zipper failure.
I'm looking forward to many more years with my replacement SL!
Price Paid: $250
What can I say... this superlight rain shell worked for me flawlessly (or as near-perfect as I could ever imagine), in the wettest of places- the coastal mountains of Alaska, BC, and the Yukon for 3 months in summer.
It's cut high to accommadate a climbing harness, it still rides lower than a hip-belt on a big expedition pack. Completely waterproof/sealed everywhere. Hood is well-designed and very effective like all Arc'teryx stuff (not helmet-compatible, though- no prob for backpacking/paddling).
It's Paclite- so it breathes like Lance Armstrong, but it is thinner- so it can puncture (the sacrifice you make for having an 8-10 oz impervious shell). Still, the one rip occurred on my sleeve, and it was likely from sharp rock I fell on in steep, sketchy terrain. And the tear didn't run- sealed up with a patch and seam seal to this day (a year later) no problem. Could return to Arc'teryx for a cheapo repair (or maybe a replacement) but they rock, and it's a battle scar I'm glad to bear with my favorite rain shell of all time.
Fabric: Gore Tex Paclite
This is a relatively new jacket and I have only used it once so here goes: It seems to work really well when you lend it to a really cute girl and walk along the beach with her. The Wasabi color really pops out in pictures and it seems to hold sea shells and rocks (that eventually fade in color) really well. It also repels that sea water smell that comes with putting such items in your pockets! I also found that wearing it yourself next to the really cute girl makes you look a lot better too. All that to say make sure you buy a great color and bring it with you if you think you will be hanging out with a top-notch woman!
Okay, here's something technical: I have several other Arc'teryx jackets and they all rock, so I assume this one will as well when I need it to perform. It's very light so it's perfect for summer.
Price Paid: $299.99
This is an excellent jacket!!! It surpassed my expectations, but that's no surprise for this companies attention to detail and quality. It keeps you very dry and works great as a hard shell (I'm using it with a fleece for skiing).
Please NOTE the big hood, I was taken by surprise how large it was, it's made to be helmet compatible. Although there are multiple draw cords to fix this. Although, this would not defer me from purchasing it.
I enjoy the pocket placement. I enjoy the fit, it's a very good, athletic fit. I would defiantly recommend this to everyone!!!
I like the brillaint blue and my husband said that he could spot me a mile off. Very light but during a rainstorm, I felt really sweaty and sticky. I don't think it is as breathable as the manufacturers make it out to be.
Is it worth the expensive price tag? Probably not.
XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
342 g / 12.1 oz
Athletic fit, Hip Length
340NR GORE-TEX® Paclite® 2L
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