ARC’TERYX

There’s one name that’s comes up a lot when I’m talking about top-end kit: does the quality compare; is the fit as good; are the fabrics the same spec; are the features as purely technical? I’ve never had a answer to that.
So, it’s with real interest that I’ve casting an eye over the batch of test kit from Arc’teryx.
I’ve got a good cross-section of their clothing, so hopefully I’ll be able to get something of a feeling for the brand. I can say already that it’s very individual, from the styling, to the construction, to the fabrics and even the colours.
I took a size large in everything, and that looks to have been the right choice, the fit being slimmer for a given size compared to other kit from the brand’s living across the Atlantic. The sizing seems to be graded too, each layer being slightly wider that than the one designed to go underneath it. Nice.

Above is the Delta LT Zip, a simple lightweight midlayer in a pullover style.
It’s a basic as you can get, it’s fabric, stitching and a zip. The zip is a good length for venting, the collar is a medium height, the arms and body are nicely long. It’s very soft, being made from Polartec 100 MicroGrid and there’s some nice subtle shape manipulation in the construction to give freedom of movement without lots of extra fabric causing bunching up.
It feels light, packs down small and should give good warmth for winter layering and better weather bimbling.

Above in fetching “Mahogany” is the Rho LT Zip. It’s a baselayer, but I can see it as a midlayer as well, the fabric has just enough thickness that it’ll do both, so I’ll layer it over merino short-sleeves and vest as well as wearing it on its own.
The fit on me is great, long and slim, skin-tight in fact, but the Rentex Powerflex fabric is so soft and stretchy there’s no feeling of pressure or restriction.
There’s a good length zip, medium height collar, and unusually for a baselayer, a pocket. This is a small laminated affair, and would be handy for keeping lip balm and camera batteries unfrozen, this winter has brought such things to the fore.
The construction echoes that of the Delta LT Zip, free movement with neatness.

Arc’teryx have the Gamma LT Jacket billed as “…wind and moisture resistant softshell jacket for everyday use”, and as mountain-appropriate as the the thing is, I can see what they mean. It’s got a slightly more relaxed fit, less overtly technical styling compared to many softshells and of course, no hood.
The fabric is Burly Double Weave which has a good bit of stretch and feels pretty beefy (I resisted the temptation say burly there), the construction is an interesting mix of lamination and stitching, the zips are the chunky YKK’s that I like (are big zips coming back?) and there’s pockets that’ll carry hat, gloves and Buff as well as my bacon rolls and a danish when I’m at my work. Aye, it does have that cross functionality, and most of the kit I get sent has too, as almost all of it goes to work with me at some point.

The Gamma LT Pants above are dead simple to look at, but as with all the Arc’teryx kit, the detail is where it’s at.
The Fortius fabric a light and soft, sewn and laminated into subtle shapes to ease leg movement. There’s two hip and one thigh zipped pockets (no rear pocket, hurrah! pointless bloody things most of the time), zipped fly, integral belt with a velour inner waistband, clever ankle adjustment and again some nice fabric work to keep the profile neat and the comfort good.
They feel nice on, and the understated looks are quite unusual for me, they’re as technical as you need, but won’t have folk looking at me like I’ve just got off the plane from Kathmandu.

The Alpha SL Pullover below is an interesting mix of throwback and cutting edge. A pouch pocket smock? That’s as old school as it gets, but we’ve also got micro seam-taped Paclite, laminated construction, water resistant zips and a colour that would stun a donkey. I think it’s one of the most individual looking shells out there, but the features are right on the money, so this is no novelty item.
It feels good on, smocks are like that, they don’t piss about making the few seconds of getting it on and off the focus of design, they’re all about the wearing. The pouch pocket is right there in front of you, it’s huge and will be very handy indeed. The hood is a pulls in nicely round a bare head, velcro cuffs and there’s pit-zips, one of which extends to the hem to split the jacket, so I will be able to take it off inside a Laser Photon Elite. The pit-zips also allow you to get your hands inside the jacket for warming and pocket rummaging.
It’s a lightweight smock (322g they say), but it has more features that most, the pit-zips and adjustable cuffs being the the items usually missing, and I can get a loaf of bread into that pouch pocket. Smocks aren’t known for their cargo carrying prowess.

It’s an interesting collection of kit, and it’s good to be testing something that does feel quite “different”.
I’ll report back as I go, so more soon.

18 thoughts on “ARC’TERYX

  1. i heard wearing *whispers* arc’teryx will result in one’s immortal soul being slowly consumed by the worn garment!

    pete, are you still with us?

  2. one kit to rule them all,
    one kit to find them,
    one kit to bring them all
    and in the the darkness bind them
    in the land of canada where the shadows lie!

  3. All is well, I am immune to any influence. Unless folk send me something purple. Or orange.

    Price is an interesting one, now that manufacturing is split (the kit here is made in Canada, Thailand and China) the prices are starting to fit in more with other top end brands.
    I think it’s more of a straight fight on fit, fabric and features. That makes it all very interesting :o)

  4. I’d be interested to know what you think about the pants Pete. I really like softshell pants but for tops other items are my preference. I am happy with the ones i have got tbh but for the future they maybe an option, especially if they start to drop the price a bit.

  5. Softshell was made for your legs right enough.
    I used to wear all sorts of stuff, and I’ve never been so comfy as I am these days in nice stretchy weather resistant pants. Partly I think because I seem to wear overtrousers much less, in winter I used to have to pull them on when the wind got right up, never mind in rain or snow.

  6. More comments on clothing names then. After the Haglofs reptile range, it’s Arcteryx’s Greek alphabet range. It’s a bit like the old registration plates – what are they going to go when they get to the Omega mitts?
    Have they coded the bits? Alpha = base layer, Beta = mid layer etc? Or is there no logic at all to their designations?
    ;-)

  7. hmm. I never could figure out exactly what the greek letters signified, but certainly the letters after make a bit more sense: SL=superlight (normally paclite gear), LT=lightweight, SV=severe (bombproof stuff), AR=all-round?

    Arc’teryx is always lovely; I have one of their harnesses and it’s a gem. The clothing is always beautifully finished and fabric selection is normally pretty good for the intended function. Cut is fairly slim on the body but a little bit too big on the shoulders and the arms for me – which says more about me than it does the gear.

    A few things do puzzle you though: they never seem to vent windstopper properly in the way that Haglofs and others do, a complete absence of down from their range (there are plenty of times when primaloft just doesn’t cut it), and too much casual fleece and not enough proper performance stuff in good fabrics like powerstretch and windpro.

    The prices are not especially crazy these days, they started from a high price point so when everyone else has hiked drastically in response to rising costs/exchange rates, they’ve kept everything at more or less the same cost, with only a couple exceptions.

  8. I think it’s a place in the range thing, Alpha being the top, maybe?

    I dunno, I only found out today for sure that their name is indeed short for archaeopteryx. Despite the wee fossil.

  9. ACS, the stuff you say there does point out the brand’s quirks even more.
    The fabric choices and the models they produce really don’t correspond to any one elses line-up.

    Awkward buggers maybe? I can relate to that :o)

  10. I threw down and bought Alpha SV bibs to ski in some years ago, and the jacket the next year — the most expensive garments I own and worth every bit. They’re cut to move in, don’t leak, don’t have drafts and haven’t ever failed me even in some appalling weather. I slid down a frozen face while skiing near Chamonix and the fabric was untouched (although I was bruised up a bit and the local dialect was enhanced by several dozen words they’ve probably not heard used together very often).

  11. I like the look of the Delta LT Zip, I haven’t seen many tops recently in the micro grid fleece. I have an old Alpine Lowe micro grid fleece and it has good weight to thermal qualities. I’m looking forward to see what you think as mine is 11 years old and getting ready for retirement. Not due to failure, it looks as good as new, I just fancy a change and not in black this time. Bright yellow or orange!

    Ooooh and another pullover to enter the race. Looking forward to the outcome. Who will win first prize of a lovely new home in my wardrobe this summer? :0)

  12. It’s a nice top, just had it’s first machine wash (along with the Gamma softshell) which is always a worrying time, but it’s the same size and shape as it was!

    Simple pullovers are vital kit, and as much as I hate to admit it, the Delta looks good with jeans too.

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