Historic Range: $171.80-$625.00
Reviewers Paid: $150.00-$500.00
XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
486 g / 1 lb 1.1 oz
Athletic fit, Thigh length
380NR GORE-TEX® Pro Shell 3L, 480N GORE-TEX® Pro Shell 3L
Historic Range: $110.97-$625.00
XS, S, M, L, XL
432 g / 15.2 oz
Athletic fit, Thigh length
410N GORE-TEX® Pro Shell 3L
I have now had the Arc'teryx Theta AR for just shy of a year now. When I purchased it, I was looking for a shell that I could buy and keep/use for many years to come. I have friends who have owned Arc'teryx products and had something go wrong with them and the company's customer service was reportedly excellent, which is one of the main reasons I looked at the jacket.
I was also looking for a jacket that extended down past my waist because I like the additional length and rain protection. Lastly I was looking for a GoreTex Proshell jacket because I like their products and have used them and they have proved durable and very water resistant.
The jacket. The jacket is definitely designed and fits a body with an athletic build the best. It is form fitting, but not tight, allowing layering below without having a lot of bunched up material or the feeling of bulkiness. The sleeves are cut so that even when wearing a fleece underneath, when I reached up to grab a branch while wearing my pack (loaded about 25lbs) the part of the jacket under the hipbelt did not budge.
The wrists are adjustable with a sturdy velcro strip which when in use with my gloves in the snow kept a great seal. The pit-vents are large and have dual direction zippers so opening and closing them with a pack and gloves on was a breeze. The pockets are located in a very convenient position allowing easy access while wearing my pack and the shoulderstraps did not get in the way of pocket entry.
The hood, as well as the torso and bottom of the jacket all have one hand pull cords which allow you to cinch the jacket/hood down one handed, which again works well even when wearing my pack and gloves.
The jacket holds up very well against rain as I have personally tested when in the Smoky Mountains. I made the mistake of going hiking without a rain jacket and got stuck in a torrential downpour that left me soaked and miserable. I said I would never again make that mistake.
The jacket packs down pretty compact and fits in the lid pocket of my Gregory Z-55 with extra room in the pocket to spare, and weighs just over a pound. The Theta has taken many rainstorms in the Smokies with me and even when I am at home around town.
The downside, though it is claimed that the jacket breathes well, I still found it to be stuffy after a rainstorm while still hiking through the woods. It does however breath better than a plastic or rubber bag. It also does a good job blocking the cold wind, however since it has no insulation, a fleece or something below is a must for temperatures near and below freezing.
Over the year I have owned it I have worn it with my pack on more than 10 times, and the shoulders show no sign of wear or loss of water-proofness, which is something that Arc'teryx advertises. They "strengthened" the shoulders and elbows to make them more rugged, which I have found they are after many hours of pack wear with no losses to repellency.
During one rainstorm, I slipped on a decline and slid about 15 feet in mud/muck and the jacket did not tear, however it was left looking quite brown. When I got home I squirted it off with a hose and it cleaned right up.
Though the jacket is a bit pricey and it [in my opinion] could breathe better, I still am very very satisfied with my purchase. I would definitely recommend the Theta to anyone looking for a rugged and reliable hard-shell that will last them for many years, if they are willing to shell out the dough!
Fabric: GoreTex ProShell
Price Paid: $300
I could never afford to drop nearly $500 on a jacket and as perfect as it is, I don't think I could rationalize that. Somehow, I manage to stay dry even in the worst downpours with it.
The best parts about this jacket are the huge pit zips and the great hood. I own a TNF Hyvent shell and I think that's where the Arc' really beats it, awesome brim to keep rain out of your face. Obviously, the AR is much lighter, less bulky and packs much smaller too.
If I am honest, I have not snagged it on anything yet, so I cannot speak on its durability. If I have one concern, I am afraid the tapped zippers will eventually wear down a bit perhaps providing entry for water. As they stand now, they are perfect.
Once while wearing my jacket, I had to run into the ocean (long story) and got pommeled by a wave. I was perfectly dry from my waist up... If only I could afford the AR bib.
Bottom line: Get one for cheap and it is a perfect shell (I got mine new on eBay).
Update: December 3, 2011
UPDATE: I have continued wearing this shell over the last two years. It has been my favorite piece of gear. I wear it all year (mid-Atlantic region). No significant signs of wear, including the sealed zippers I was concerned about, which I believe are of the "self-healing" variety.
The shell is a bit much during the warmer times of year or during strenuous activity. I, surely, haven't reapplied DWR often enough, so that could be the issue there.
Unrelated: I recently had a zipper-pull on a discontinued Arc'teryx daypack break and customer service was great. It attaches with a rivet, so they offered to attach it for me, but they were more than happy to just send the zipper-pull in the mail to me at no charge.
Update: March 13, 2014
I moved to the Elk Range, Rockies, Colorado, in September and the jacket continues to get regular usage. It has endured well. The self-healing zipper is showing some age, but seems to function 100%.
I have started using the shell as my primary snowboarding jacket. I probably have about 25 days wearing it on the mountain. I did manage to shred a bit of the fabric, nylon not the Gore-tex that is inside the jacket that creates the channel for the lower cinch.
Still 5 star.
Price Paid: $205
Price Paid: $225 at ebay
You're paying for the technology, a top of the line outdoor jacket, and of course, the brand name. It's clearly not worth $450, just like designer clothes are not worth excessive prices. Arc'teryx is the designer clothing label of the outdoor world, but at least its the best. On ebay you will pay about 25% less, just be patient.
The first day I had this jacket, I almost ripped the back coming out of a cab! It resulted in a long scratch on the back like a thread-pull on a sweater. This will probably effect the waterproof. How can this jacket survive in the mountains climbing and skiing etc, when it cant survive one night in Boston climbing out of a taxi!
Pros: best of the best, period
Cons: way overpriced, not THAT durable.
got lucky on ebay
avg price is about $325-360 on ebay
give yourself a few weeks to watch though for your size and color.
Fabric: Gore-tex xcr
Price Paid: $225
Bought this jacket at Cotswold for £380 GBP. In two months of ownership I took it in torrential rain for two hours. It leaked at the shoulders. Sent back to Arc'teryx and shipped back saying "no manufacturing defect".
- Looks good
- Fits well
- Not waterproof
- Very expensive
- Not the quality I expected
- Poor customer care
- Made in China
I will be honest in saying that I don't wish to waste more time writing a thorough review. I have lost time and money and I'm very disappointed that Arc'teryx took so long to return my jacket. They didn't even telephone to clarify the problem.
In essence I was hoping to purchase an expensive outdoor item that had to be waterproof, functional, and not too bad looking. All the hype I read seemed to point to Arc'teryx Theta AR.
Boy am I disappointed!
This was purchased in September 2017. I noted other reviews that mentions the Pro Tex material not as good as earlier material. Would not know so can't comment.
Would not recommend to outdoors enthusiasts.
Had jacket in light rain. Not bad, but leaks at neck/shoulders after three hours.
Had jacket in torrential rain—leaks at shoulders. Possibly entering around hood somewhere.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £380 GBP
This is the best "all around" rain jacket money can buy. I've had mine for 15 years and put it through the wringer. Although I have other rain jackets for specific purposes, this is the one I grab 90% of the time.
- Quality construction
- Durable materials
- Perfect fit
- Excellent customer service
Recently, I had an experience with the folks at Arc'teryx that deserves to be told.
A year or so ago I noticed that the bonded hem at the bottom was starting to come apart. Then the drawcord at the waist also started separating. Realizing it would only continue to get worse, I contacted Arc'teryx about having it repaired.
The instructions on their website stated that I must first submit a form, describe the problem, upload a picture of the garment/problem, and get a repair authorization code.
Also I was instructed to wash and dry the garment like normal, warm water, tumble dry, etc.
When I pulled the jacket out of the dryer I was shocked! Both cords had completely delaminated and were hopelessly tangled into an impossible mess! I spent maybe 45 minutes trying to untangle the drawcords. The channel at the waist was frayed and tangled in the mix.
I typed up a short letter explaining that at the time of authorization request the jacket looked as the submitted photo, and after washing and drying (per their instructions) it had turned into the tangled web of the condition they were receiving. I boxed the jacket up with the letter. Authorization code on outside of box and referenced in the letter. I then dropped it off with UPS.
About a week later I received an email to confirm that they had received the package. A few days later, an email advised that the garment was being evaluated. After a few more days an email update stated that jacket was being repaired. About 10 days later another email indicating that repairs were completed. A few more days, an email that the jacket was being returned to me. Yada, yada, yada. About a week later it arrived at my door.
I have to say, Arc'teryx was FANTASTIC about keeping me informed every step of the way. The whole process took about a month.
Now it was time to open the box. I expected that they had probably put a new waistband channel and cord and probably rebonded the bottom hem.
They went above and beyond the call of duty! It looked as though even the zippers were replaced with new waterproof zips. It was still "MY" jacket, in the sense that the original fabric was retained. But it appeared they had deconstructed and rebuilt it.
I was willing to pay for the repair but the subject never came up. Not once was there ever any mention of any cost.
I have been recommending Arc'teryx products to people for years...with the caveat that they are "hideously expensive." Lots of companies offer guarantees and warranties. Few deliver like my experience with Arc. If something is guaranteed for life, and the company stands behind the product, then the price is not so hideous.
It was this experience with Arc'teryx customer service which led me to buy yet another jacket (Theta SV).
When I hold the old Theta AR next to the new Theta SV, I really can't see much difference between the two—except I still like the color of the Theta AR best of all.
After getting the jacket back I was knocked out by the excellent customer service. Recently I wore the jacket all day in a light drizzle. At the end of the day I noticed that one pit zip had completely separated.
I contacted Arc'teryx again. They went through the same instruction process, issued a return authorization, etc. I sent the jacket back. This past weekend I received a phone call saying that they could not repair it and were sending me a NEW jacket.
Three days later the new jacket was waiting on my doorstep! The old "Spruce" color is no longer available but I'm happy with the new "Twinleaf" green. ARC'TERYX ROCKS!!!!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $450
The only good thing about this jacket it will keep the wind out. It will also keep you warm and dry. The materials of the jacket are falling apart.
- Keeps you dry
- Jacket falling apart.
- Made in China explains it all!
I bought this jacket thinking I was buying a top of the line product, the best of the best for mountaineering. I was wrong when I started to see the jacket falling apart at the seams. I would expect this from a jacket less than $100, but not a $450 jacket.
I am very disappointed in the quality and build of the jacket. However it does keep the wind and the rain from getting to the clothing you wear under the jacket, except for the areas where the materials fail. I could understand it if I wore this jacket frequently, but I only use it hiking in the winter.
It has to go back to Arc'teryx for replacement or repairs. Also I get pretty hot in the winter with this jacket, even with the pit zippers open. I agree with the other poor reviewers.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $405
After having used it for more than 2 years, it is time to write a review on this jacket.
The fit: Better than most, but not as great as some other reviewers would say. My biggest complaint is the collar. It is too wide and too low so the wind can come in very easily. I always had to wear a Buff neck thing to keep the cold wind out. This is especially necessary when you are riding a bike or some other head first activity.
Durability: very good. No scratches or tears or whatever after using it daily in all possible circumstances: trekking, commuting, alpinism—it was my one “do it all” jacket.
Water repellency: very good. The original coating sticks longer than any other jacket I have ever used (except Berghaus paclite smock, see further down). Reproofing with Nikwax gave good results.
Waterproof: No! I had the same problem with this jacket as I had with all my previous Gore Tex jackets: after a year (for the Theta AR 2 years!) dark spots start to show on the inside when walking in the rain for more than 5 minutes. Fabric saturation is very fast and it feels and looks wet inside.
I send it back and got a refund. The same happened with my North Face Kitchatna jackets. I got three of those for the price of one!
The good thing is that they stand behind there product and are fair in customer support, but I have lost my faith in expensive jackets.
I now own a Berghaus Paclite smock and it costs me 200 euro. Way cheaper than the 590 euro I paid for the Theta ar. The first impression of this smock is better than my Theta ar. Less frills and a lot lighter. Maybe not as tough, but I can live with it. My back is also thankful when I stuff it in my pack.
Overall: a good jacket but not worth the money they ask. You can find good (better) stuff for less money from Berghaus, Patagonia, Marmot,...
Fabric: Gore tex XCR
Price Paid: 590 Euro
My Arc'teryx hacket has Gore-Tex delamination problems (I'd attach the photo if there was an option) and I now that the manufacturer does not warranty this problems!
Then...Think hard and twice about buying their high-end (?) products.
Source: bought it new
Best hard shell I have ever owned.
- Good fit
- Amazing hood
- DWR wears out after few months
This is the second jacket I owned from Arc'teryx. I love the way it fit and look. It is very functional and extremely durable. I took this jacket everywhere around the world with me. It keeps me dry and comfortable.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $300
Best ski coat I have owned.
Boy, those giving it two stars must have got a bad one. Mine has been bullet proof over two years of skiing (60+ days), banging off trees, getting stomped on in bars.
Stays warm and dry in the nastiest of weather. I've had it completely coated with snow/sleet and still no leaks. It is warmer than it has any right to be at its weight. Unless it's below 20 I just wear a base layer under it. Love it.
Source: bought it new (Best deal ever)
Price Paid: $180 on sale
First, I find this to be an excellent Goretex Pro-shell jacket. When I bought it it was the best choice for me as a climber due to its added length, hood, and overall design. I also caught it on a 50% off sale which helps.
I noticed another review had a completely false statement regarding the seams on this jacket. This jacket is stitched and glued at the seams. Just taking a close look at the seams, anyone can see that there is very tightly spaced stitching.
Arc'teryx gear is still top of the line, but they aren't the innovative forerunner they used to be. That being said I chose this jacket, off the rack, above others from top brands specifically due to its quality and features.
Price Paid: $275
OH NO TWO STARS!!!!!!
OK let me explain. I hate to be the killjoy in this pretty boy party, but let's get real. Have you seen/worn this overrated trash bag? Arc'teryx has a name for a reason and this jacket they make today with ProShell is NOT where it came from.
In an extreme effort to save a few ounces Arc has all but lost what made it worth the money. Are you buying this having worn, felt, and seen the older Arc'teryx XCR shell? or are you just saying to yourself that it's just gotta be the best they or anyone can do?
I have both and can tell you that the two jackets made by the same company have no business being on the same mountain together. It's the difference between building it so it will last forever and building it so you'll need to buy the new model in a few years. ProShell is so paper thin and weak that holes are now a thing to just get use to. Also I guess stiches are too heavy these days so we'll just glue the entire thing together....? The glue will fail as it has for me. The XCR has it glued and stiched.
I wish you all could hold, feel, and wear the older XCR before buying the ProShell, then look at the sales man and say WTF DUDE!!! This is for all of you that are really going to use/depend on it like back country ski/snowboard or mountianeering folk. The rest of you can grab the nearest hefty and hit the bunny slopes for all I care.
Price Paid: $500
The Arcteryx Theta AR is the first hard shell coat I've owned and I really like it. I went snowshoeing the other day and it stayed between -2F and -12F the whole day in and out of the sun and I stayed warm when moving but slightly chilled when standing still and all I was wearing was a base layer shirt and the coat.
I'm 6'5" and 180lbs and the AR fits me well, I can't fit a thick fleece under because it gets too bulky but base layers fit great. The arms are great length for me and the hood and collar also fit me well for as long as I am.
I haven't been in any rainstorms with it yet so I can't say how waterproof it is but the amount of snow I've been in the Gore tex has kept me very dry.
I wouldn't pay $550 for this coat new but I would give at least 250 to 300 for one If I knew how good it was.
Well, I just got back from my first trial run with my Theta AR and I'd have to say it's great! I have not owned many hard shells but I'm sure I didn't go wrong with this purchase.
I walked for probably two hours in 20 degree temps with a windchill witch would make it about 15 degrees. I was wearing a T-shirt and the coat and I stayed cool at a stand still and a bit warmer when walking, by no means freezing or uncomfortable but a relaxing cool. I was wearing fleece lined gloves and a wool hat and those were the only places I could feel any perspiration which was nice.
I'm 6'5" and a skinny 180 lbs and it fits me almost perfect, it could be a touch longer in the waist but the arms were perfect length and the waist/ body of the coat fit nice. It's a little loud to walk in but that's why they invented soft shells I guess. It could use a pocket or two more but I think they left them off for the sake of weight.
This is probably the lightest coat I have ever had for the job it does. I wouldn't pay five hundred for it but I would have paid 250 to 300 If I knew how nice it was.
Price Paid: $150 new with tags
I wanted to make sure that I get my initial review posted and will follow-up in a few weeks when I run this jacket through the tests I usually do with such garments.
Initially I found the material, weight and design to be perfect. Arc'teryx lives up to its name with this Jacket. It's light, has well placed pockets which do not have to much or to little room for storage and the extra long design helps with most outdoor activities we outdoor folk enjoy.
However, the elastic band around the waist is lacking the "Arc'teryx" flare. You pull it tight and it makes you look like your wearing a dress. And I believe a removable hood would have been a great idea.
Overall, it's a great piece to own for any gear junkie and I am sure it will hold up to some mixed climbing next week. Stay posted for an updated review in 2 weeks.
Fabric: Gore-Tex Pro Shell
Price Paid: $383
The greatest thing about this jacket is the fit! It's sized to fit an athletic person without extra fabric to bulk up and get in your way. I'm a skier and also really like the helmet compatible hood. In windy snowy conditions it is great to be able to pull the hood over your helmet and keep the weather from going down your back.
Hands down, if your are looking for the best of waterproof/breathable fabric, the Gore Tex XCR is the only way to god. North Face's HyVent, and Mountain Hardware's Conduit don't compare. The jacket is pricey, but as I put it to my wife, "it is all I wanted for Christmas". I did tons of research to see if the jacket was really worth the money. I went to all the local outdoor stores to try on the competing jackets....and they don't even come close.
One of the immediate reactions was that all the other jackets were heavy unless you went with the Gore Tex Packlight. Only problem with the Packlight is it just doesn't have the durability. The last thing you want to do is spend a small fortune on a jacket for it to rip on the first outing.
Another key feature for me is the hood is separate from the caller. It drives me nuts (with most other similar jackets) to have to pull the front zip down so you can put on the hood (most integrate the hood with the caller).
Only con I can think of right now is the layout of the front zips. They are too high to really be hand warming pockets. I'm also confused why they omitted the zipper garage on the arm zip. All in all, this really is the best shell you can buy.
I rate this a 4 star jacket for a couple reasons...
I used to snowboard every day for a couple years...
My bro had an arc xcr jacket that I loved... more of
a skiers jacket.. but I loved using it.. I bought the Theta AR.
Since then I quit working on the mountain and don't deal with snow much anymore, but I live in the Pacific Northwest and I fish and hunt a lot. I figured I would give this jacket its money's worth and I took it a mile out on the jetti in Westport... yes it's hardcore conditions and will test about anything you bring out there...and what I've found against bare rock, and pretty much anything this jacket I treat like I'm wearing paper.. I got a nice good scuff next to the chest pocket.. I'm walking or climbing up rocks the size of trucks...
maybe possibly sometimes barnacles and I realize now I just have to be careful with it if I want it to last a long time..
But if you're in snow or not very hardcore about how you abuse things it's a 5.. I bought it for fishing and snowboarding... and if you're a NW fisherman try out the Simms XCR jacket.. It's pretty badazz and is a lot more rugged with more weight.. but...
I feel like much more of a pimp on any river or body of water with the theta, so it's worth it :) a must have for a snowboarder/pac west fisherman
Price Paid: $320
Putting on this jacket feels like putting on a suit of armor--in a good way. The jacket is strong and well made. Enough has been said about this jacket here, so I'll just touch on a few points.
If you're trying to decided between this jacket and the Alpha SV, try them on. I chose this jacket because I loved the fit. The Alpha SV was cut too short at the hip for my liking. I am 6'3", 190, and my athletic build fits perfectly into a large.
Beware of fake Theta AR's being sold on e-bay. They are definitely out there.
Ask yourself, am I really willing to pay full price for this jacket? Unless you're really rolling in it, I'd think twice. It's nice, but it's just a shell.
Price Paid: $200 cdn (used)
After many years of gracing the hills and trails with North Face, Patagonia and Mammut on my back, I decided to go with this much talked about Canadian-Made brand. As my first Arc'teryx Jacket, and someone that needs the extra rugged protection for ice climbing, I was on the line between three jackets; The cheaper Beta AR (which was too short and ill-fitting in the shoulders for me), the ultra pricey Alpha SV (At $599 and only two color options available I thought Arc'teryx could've given a little more for the price beside the safe design and Canada-Made origin), and third the Theta AR which, at $350-$450, was the most economical, best fitting and well designed for me.
In my opinion, it offers all the Alpha SV offers and a little more; More pockets, more hem length and a much, much better slim/stream-lined athletic fit which actually works better with my climbing harness. The only advantage I can see of the Alpha SV is the extra stiff nylon outer shell and slightly bigger hood. Things that are not important to most people with normal sized heads and those that don't wear rain gear to sword fights.
Most reviewers suggested sizing up for the size. At 5'8"/150lbs I normally wear Medium and found Small in this jacket fit perfect with plenty room to layer my Patagonia Micro Puff Pullover or R4 fleece Jacket underneath. I think the Arc'teryx Gore-Tex XCR shells used to fit on the small side, but the newer Gore-Tex Pro Shell Theta and Alpha definitely fits on the big side. So either get your size or size down.
I just got my Theta AR over the New Years weekend and during a first quick climb on the ice I find it works well with my harness and definitely does not ride up or bunch up during climbs. The Theta's collar/hood combo takes a little getting used to since most jackets have hoods either stow away or hang openly. But this was not a problem since the extra collar keeps out wind and ice melt.
All the pockets are small on this jacket (No water bottle and mitt warmer pockets here, just lipbalm and car keys). You could argue that they should be bigger with handwarming-fleece lining but that would add weight and subtract versatility so it's not necessarily a 100% bad thing.
I miss having the dual belay zippers that you find on virtually all other alpine mountain jackets. On the Theta and most Arc'teryx brand jackets there is only one one-way front zip, so you either have to zip up or just leave the zip open. I kept it zipped up and tucked the hem inside my harness and wore the jacket like a shirt. Good thing the Pro Shell material breathes really well (better than XCR) so I didn't find myself unzipping the front zippers to vent at all during my climb.
Another thing that took getting used to is the ultra-thin shock cords and tiny pull tabs. They seem so frail like they will pull right off, but then you soon see that the quality of this the jacket is for real.
Great jacket with minor gripes about it. Expect it to last a long time and for the price it should!
Recommended for Serious Adventurers! Urbanites stick with your TNF and save your money for Lattes!
Fabric: Gore-Tex Pro Shell
Price Paid: 385 USD
I have used this hard shell for four seasons. It shows no real wear except at the Velcro cuffs. I use it both for around town and in the backcountry and it never lets me down or weather protection. Would buy another immediately.
Price Paid: $260
This is the best hard shell jacket that I have ever used in the backcountry. Why? Incredibly durable (a Mountain Hardwear equivalent used for two years prior did not hold up nearly as well), fully waterproof, with quality unmatched. It is expensive retail, but it should hold up twice as long as jackets 1/2 the price, so the value is there. Just don't wear it in Cabs....
Price Paid: $280
I have done quite a bit of searching for the perfect shell and in my opinion, THIS IS IT. Although very expensive, it is refreshing to see outdoor garments that are made with exquisite attention to quality and detail. It is well known that Arc'teryx is an innovater in the field and this is evident in the jacket's craftsmanship.
The fit is superb and the hood is everything you'd want as far as adjustability is concerned. At first I thought that the material and the zippers were a little stiff but they have both "softened".
I am overjoyed to have finally taken the plunge on this jacket, but I'm confident that I'll never have to purchase another shell...if you are thinking of getting one, you won't regret it.
Fabric: 3-Layer Gore-Tex XCR
Price Paid: $450
I recently went shopping for a lighweight rain jacket to replace my 10-year-old Eddie Bauer Gore-Tex (made back before EB was turned into another Gap-like clone). It was a simple jacket but like the X-terra ads, it had everything I needed and nothing I didn't. Unfortunately, my darling wife had a habit of loaning it out to friends and we realized one day we didn't know where it was. Still don't.
Anyway, I recently set about to replace it. Obviously, different people need rain jackets for different purposes. Also, what might be a great jacket for $150 might be considered lacking if you are shelling out two or three times that much.
Having said that, a few thoughts on the Theta AR ("all round"). The demands I put on this jacket will be much less than some of you hardcore outdoor enthusiants. I'm not out in the woods as much as when younger. Mostly light hiking and camping with the family and friends. More often I'm outdoors watching/coaching/reffing kids sports. However, sometimes this can be in pretty miserable conditions.
So, my requirements do not include a lot of the "technical" features found on most high end jackets. But I absolutely insisted on something that would keep me 100% dry and do so without compromising too much on breathability. For me to spend anything over a couple of hundred, it has to have virtually year round useability and easily packable for travel.
The Theta does not disappoint. By using watertight zippers, they have eliminated the need for storm flaps, thus saving a few ounces of fabric. The use of GoreTex XCR and pit zips enhances breathability while keeping the jacket, at least in my experience, absolutely watertight. Somehow, they have managed to tape seal the interior seams without adding too much weight or impairing breathability. It is therefore a little "stiffer," especially when new, than other jackets but it is no big deal and remains very packable (I like to cram a raincoat into my camera bag when traveling).
In some ways, it is pretty spartan, though not plain. In fact, as these sorts of jackets go, it is pretty good looking. There are no interior pockets but there are three on the outside. All three have vertical zippers and are placed high enough to accomodate most backpack belts. Not real convenient as a "handwarmer" sort of pocket though, but you get used to it. There is also a small pocket on the exterior of the left sleeve, like were added to flight jackets in the '50s. Big enough for a small GPS device, map, cell phone, or Ipod.
It is not as long as a parka, but is longer in the back than the front, thus giving you a bit of a snow skirt.
The fit is "athletic" but not overly snug. It does seem to run maybe half a size smaller than comparable Marmots I tried and almost a full size smaller than a TNF Mountain Light. If ordering on the net and not sure of your size, if in doubt go up a size.
The zippers, as others have noted, are stiff and the pit zips are especially tough to manipulate with one hand. If that is the price to pay for the thing to be absolutely, positively dry as a bone, then I can live with that. Your mileage may vary.
Finally, my other finalists were a Marmot with Precip Plus with an MSRP of about $180, a Mountain Hardwear Backcountry Recon with their proprietary 3 layer "Conduit" for over three bills, and the venerable Marmot Minima (MSRP of $250). The Minima has Paclite Gore-tex. The jacket is lighter than the Theta, though not a whole lot, is softer, and maybe even has a little interior pocket. Almost got it. In fact, I'm sure that, for me, any one of those would have been excellent choices.
However, sometimes you just stumble into good luck. The nearby outfitter store where I was trying these on was getting ready to have a late-in-the-season sale. The sales clerk helping me offered to put back whichever jacket I chose for a few days until the sale started and give me the sale discount. I wasn't even going to try on the Theta until he told me it would be on sale as well. I was afraid I might like it.
Anyway, he mistakenly thought it was going to be marked down half off. When I discovered it was a mistake, the store manager nevertheless graciously offered to honor the price. That made my mind up pretty fast!
I wouldn't pay $450 for a Theta, no matter how great it is. For one thing, depending on the time of year, you can find them on the internet for less than $300, if you are willing to take a color you might not like. For another, there are less expensive alternatives for those of us not swinging an ice axe or hanging off a rock every other weekend. But if you luck into a deal, I'm not sure there is a better made rain jacket for all round use anywhere in the world. As an added bonus, I'm pretty sure they are made just "north of the border" in British Columbia, rather than some third world sweatshop if you want to factor that into your decision.
All in all, a wonderful piece of equipment, dending on your needs, and absolutely made of the first quality in materials and workmanship.
Price Paid: $225
What a great jkt. The fit is cool and the water tight zips work like a champ. The weight is next to nothing for the waterproof jkt. The quality is secong to none. I have hiked, camped, skied in this all around jkt. No wonder it is their best selling shell. With 3-ply Gore you can't go wrong. Only snag is the pit zips are tough to get to unzip. But if you want water tight zips this is the price you pay, better than storm flaps. I have owned Mountain Hardwear and TNF and Arc'Teryx is the best...just find it on sale.
Fabric: Gore Tex XCR
Price Paid: $200
The jacket is good. but it is not what it is cracked up to be. This is a follow up, after using the jacket in many an outdoor setting.
Zippers--Good and water tight...however they are tight and not so easy to zip without using two hands (especially the pit-zips, that seemed to get snagged)
Material--very good, good gore tex
Cut, very athletic, doesn't allow for much layering. it was ok. buy a size bigger if you do a lot of wintering
hood, chin gaurd really stiff, and rubbed on my fat face sometimes.
sleeves--good, well designed.
overall a good jacket. No one has come out with what I would call the ideal jacket. Just good. Arc Teryx' is becoming a very trendy brand, along with Mountain Hardwear and The North Face. So, invest in one for college campus wear or in the office. I just hope they don't move operations to China and still rape the consumers with over inflated prices, while maintaining cheap labor. It will probably happen. Canandians are just as interested in money as Americans.
Price Paid: expensive
An excellent jacket. I spent 12 hours in a recent North East England blizzard without any ill effects . A superb jacket !
Price Paid: �349
I just purchase the jacket because it was on sale. I have been wanting a new jacket ever since I sold my Marmot for much needed money while at school. I got some bills and decided to go with the Theta AR. The construction is superb, and the zippers I must admit I think is genius, they are a little stiff, but still, what an idea. I really havn't had the opportunity to use the jacket in the wilds, however, soon enough I will. I will keep you all posted on how well it does. I think Arc Teryx fixes anything, which caught my eye, any defect anything, that is a good policy.
If you are going to choose between the tnf and this, go with Arc Teryx, and don't worry about the name, the tnf is just a name, they are not the best. They are master marketers I must say. Arc Teryx, if I have anything to say I will, however, it looks like a good jacket, very functional, that is the whole purpose of anything, function, the price is high, try to get one on sale.
Fabric: tough Gore-Tex
Price Paid: $320
I am willing to spend so much money only for the best quality. This jacket is not my idea of best quality. I do not recommend it to anyone.
I wish to express my dissatisfaction about a jacket, Theta AR Jacket of Arc'teryx. After less than a year the jacket is detaching internal welds. Thank you, Arc'teryx.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: almost 700€