A look at Arc’teryx’s latest super lightweight series of down jackets, Cerium, which work well as a mid-layer in the chillier seasons and a standalone jacket in spring and summer.
I really like the Arc’teryx brand because the products fit me well and they usually have lots of great features but without any unnecessary extras. But Arc’teryx products are pricey. However, if you are looking for jackets etc that do a superb job in tricky conditions then you tend to get what you pay for.
The Arc’teryx Cerium SL (Super Light) jacket is the lightest in the new down series and boasts “Down Composite Mapping”, which means that down has been strategically placed in the core (and hood, if the jacket has a hood) for maximum warmth, while Coreloft™ synthetic insulation is utilised in the areas where moisture may build up but where maximum warmth is not usually required, such as arms and underarms.
Arc’teryx has also created the Cerium jacket with lightweight Thisela face fabric and a DWR treatment for “light moisture protection”.
Arc’teryx Cerium jacket features
The brand claims to do “down differently”. The Cerium jacket offers a down jacket design that has:
- High warmth-to-weight ratio
- Traps heat closer to your core
- Highly compressible
- Other features include:
- 850 fill goose down
- Great breathability
- Wind resistance
- Insulated collar
- Full front zip and chin guard
- Corded zipper-pulls
- Elastic cuffs
- Elasticised rear hem to seal out draft
- Two hand pockets with zippers
- Stuff sack
On test: Arc’teryx Cerium SL women’s jacket
When you pick up this jacket at first it feels amazingly light. It is as if you are holding nothing more than an empty insulated postage bag. It struck me then that insulation technology has been taken to the nth degree.
Every brand is aiming to design lighter but still warm insulated jackets and Arc’teryx really has created a super duper lightweight down jacket.
It made me wonder what had been sacrificed to make the jacket so light, and if the jacket would be so light that it didn’t keep me warm. I have been proved wrong though.
The jacket is ideal for cool days and I have worn it many times when generally out and about with good success. I have been surprised that I have only needed to wear a long-sleeved baselayer and the Cerium to stay nice and warm.
When the wind picks up or temperatures dip I simply add a waterproof jacket on the top (Arc’teryx, of course!).
I have also used the jacket for some fairly high intensity activities such as hiking up steep hills. The jacket does become damp from sweat but this seems to evaporate fairly quickly so that the down never becomes drenched and useless.
I think it helps that the area under the arms where you tend to sweat the most are made with synthetic insulation, which stays effectively warm even when damp.
Even so, the back area has down insulation and I would normally find that to be wet with sweat but it didn’t seem to happen.
Light rain is resisted by the DWR coating although I would not plan to wear this jacket in very wet conditions.
The simple fact is that when wearing the jacket you do not really notice it is there. It does a quiet and lightweight job of keeping you nicely warm. If the rain became heavy I put my waterproof jacket over the top. Even the most neat fitting waterproof would fit over the top of this slim-line down jacket.
The jacket also packs into a stuff bag that measures just 16cm by about 11cm. When you pick up the stuff bag ball it feels no heavier than a ball of walking socks.
If I have a criticism it is the strange see-through look of the outer fabric. You can see the down feathers through this fabric and this gives the jacket a kind of mottled look. It is not so off-putting that I wouldn’t buy it but I wonder if the look of the jacket has been sacrificed a little for the lightness.
I always say that practicals should come before good looks and in this case I am sticking to that. The jacket comes in fantastic colours and the overall look and feel is excellent.
It would be useful for general outdoors activities, including walking, climbing, ski touring and for times when you need to stay warm in between exercising.