Acteryx Jackets

8:59 p.m. on November 22, 2006 (EST)

Hi all,

I've heard many good things about Arcteryx's line of jackets and after browsing their site, I've got some questions. Maybe those that are familiar with their line can help me out: What is the naming convention? What is the difference between Alpha, Beta and Gamma? Also, the suffix of SV, SL, MX...etc.

Thanks a lot.

12:36 a.m. on November 23, 2006 (EST)
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Best way to answer is refer you to their website -

Basically, the designator of Alpha, Beta, etc is the intended use of the jacket, and the letters SV, SL, etc refer to the heavy/light duty level. Alpha, Beta, and Theta are hardshells, Gamma, Sigma, Epsilon, and one Alpha are softshells (some windproof, some with wp/b shell on the outside). LT is "light", SV is severe conditions, etc. If you look through their website, you will see they have grouped the jackets into general structure (hardshell, softshell, insulated, snowsports, etc), and you can get detailed descriptions. In some categories, they do like many other manufacturers and have jazzy names that don't really seem to have any real connection to the intended use (e.g., "Fission" is with the waterproof jackets - what's it do, split the raindrops? But the name sounds "extreme")

4:41 a.m. on November 25, 2006 (EST)

Thanks for the reply.

So in the waterproof (non-insulated) hard shell department, it seems like the Alpha is meant for mountaineering (or other "serious" alpine pursuits) and Beta/Theta is more all-around. The suffix would stand for: SV = severe, AR = all-around, LT = light, SL = superlight. Did I get this right?

I wish they could categorize the jackets (beyond hardshell, softshell, snowsports) so one doesn't have to read the descriptions of every jacket to figure things out.

12:02 p.m. on November 25, 2006 (EST)
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6,010 forum posts

Nivek said "I wish they could categorize the jackets (beyond hardshell, softshell, snowsports) so one doesn't have to read the descriptions of every jacket to figure things out."

You are right, I think, on the designations. I agree about categorizing or having a better matrix you could search. But, one of the things a lot of the manufacturers seem to be doing is to force you to read everything in detail, believing that you will then be suckered, er, no, too harsh, lured, ummmm, maybe still too harsh, I know, they hope you will find exactly what you want. See, some of the marketing types seem to believe that you will get tired of reading and just buy something, anything. In my case (and I suspect yours), if I can't quickly narrow the choices down, I go somewhere else. I want to just find what I need, get it, and head out to the woods and hills to use it.

Oh, I forgot. "Fashion" is an important part of the marketing. Ya gotta choose the latest, greatest color!

10:46 p.m. on December 12, 2006 (EST)
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I'm a huge fan of Arcteryx for a number of reasons. The primary one, however, is the fact that the cut of their jackets is far superior to that of any other. Their primary purpose in designing their gear is to provide technical equipment. In turn, the cut of each of their jackets is extremely well thought out. The Alpha SV is a climbing jacket - hence the shorter length to accommodate a harness. Either the Theta or Beta - I can't remember which - is a longer cut that rests two or three inches below the waist: better weather protection for activities like backpacking. The lighter jackets use more GoreTex PacLite to reduce weight, but as weight decreases so, too, does the durability. The full on 3-layer XCR of the Alpha SV is more bombproof and, in all honesty, you really don't gain that many more ounces or lose that much packability vs. the lighter PacLite models. If you're a crazy ounce counter - which is always fun - take a look at jackets like the OR Zealot jacket (7.7 oz.). But, if you want a good balance of durability, lightweightness (is that a word?), and packability - the Alpha SV is actually a really cool choice. It is a super technical shell, but I think that the Alpha SV is actually a more versatile piece than the Theta or Beta. My philosophy is that it's easier to backpack with a climbing jacket than climb with a backpacking jacket.

Back to the cut - companies like the North Face or even Mtn. Hardwear who try to make even their technical shells appeal to everyday buyers create pieces that have excess material around the waist (for a more casual look). I find this to be extremely frustrating when I have any type of gear on over my shell (pack, etc.). The folding and bunching sucks. The Arcteryx pieces have a distinct V shape that allows for mobility in the arms and shoulders - especially with big insulating layers. The proper fit will also aid in insulation and breathability. Jackets that are too baggy can remain far away from the body and don't absorb enough heat to be efficient. When they fold up under a pack, all that fabric means more stuff through which moisture vapor has to travel - translation: that 400 bucks you spent on an XCR North Face will mean jack when you're working up a sweat.

That attention to detail crosses across every aspect of their shells. They're also a helluva lot better made than most gear. If you like the idea of the more technical cut and excellent quality, another good brand would be Mammut.

Sorry if I got to rambling - hope that helps.


June 22, 2018
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