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Kit review: Arc’teryx Alpha SL jacket

Written by Fiona

June 03 2014

Leading outdoors brand Arc’teryx has brought out new and pared down waterproof jacket.

The Arc’teryx Alpha SL jacket is super lightweight and made of GORE-TEX® Paclite®, which is a compact waterproof/breathable fabric.

The jacket boasts a “mini-ripstop face for increased tear strength and an exceptional DWR treatment for a high-level of initial water repellency”.

The blurb also says: “At 265 g (9.3oz), this is the lightest alpinist’s GORE-TEX® shell in the Arc’teryx line.”

And: “The goal was simple: Minimise weight and bulk without sacrificing elemental emergency protection.”

My thoughts on the Arc’teryx Alpha SL jacket

The jacket is lightweight but not so flimsy that it will fall apart or not provide the right protection. I have tested it in some very poor Scottish mountain conditions and it has proved to be highly waterproof, windproof and robust.

The minimalist design is still functional. It has one zipped pocket and while I do like hand pockets for stowing bits and pieces it is not a huge loss. I also really like the look of the pared down jacket.

The Arc’Teryx Alpha SL jacket might be minimalist but there are several features worth mentioning.

  • A helmet-compatible hood (this is important if you plan to climb or scramble in the jacket).
  • Harness HemLock™ inserts that keep the jacket in position under harness. I wondered what these foam tubes were inside the hem of the jacket and so that explains them!
  • Packs into a small bag so it can be easily stowed when you don’t need it and quickly accessed when you do want to wear it.
  • Lightweight details such as a 1.6mm micro-seam allowance and 13 mm GORE® seam tape. Even the zipper pulls use an ultralight cord.
  • Male and female-fit.

The colours are brilliant and the arm and torso length are superb, even for a long, skinny person. I am also able to adjust the hood to stay up in even the strongest wind, although I find the hood peak a little long. It would be perfect when wearing a climbing helmet but there is a lot of adjustment required when not. My solution was to fold the peak back a little.

I have been impressed with every Arc’Teryx item that I have tried and the Alpha SL jacket is no exception.

photo 2 (20)

I can’t decide if it’s the fit (Arc’Teryx women’s clothes fit me very well) or the design (every feature has a use and there is nothing that is pointless) or the look (the jackets and trousers are beautiful outdoors clothes) but the outdoors clothing range if just about perfect.

photo 5 (1)

The prices are pretty steep but when clothing is well designed, long lasting and highly functional it can be worth paying a bit extra for it.

Arc’teryx Alpha SL jackets are priced at £220. See Arc’teryx

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