When it comes to making high-quality outdoor gear for use on our adventures, Arc’teryx has always been at the top of the list in terms of fit, function, and durability.
The company has made a reputation for creating some of the best performance products on the market, maintaining a laser-like focus on creating outdoor apparel that performs exceedingly well in the worst conditions imaginable.
In order to achieve that high level of performance, Arc’teryx has often partnered with Gore-Tex, another company that knows a thing or two about keeping us well protected from the elements.
That tradition continues with the new Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket, which has become a showpiece for Gore-Tex Pro, an updated version of Gore’s iconic fabric that has been re-engineered to be even more durable and performant than it has been in the past.
A Tradition of Dependability and Quality
One of the things that have always made Arc’teryx a great choice for outdoor adventures is that its products always offer a dependable level of performance and outstanding quality.
The level of detail that goes into the design and construction of those garments is practically unmatched by just about any other brand. This is frequently displayed in the price of their apparel (more on that later), but it cal also be felt and observed in the clothing itself.
When you buy something from Arc’teryx, you can expect it to last for years to come, even with frequent use in difficult conditions.
The Alpha SV does nothing to harm that reputation. In fact, it likely only enhances it further. This jacket is incredibly well made and has all of the features you need for an alpine expedition.
That includes pack-compatible pockets with high-quality, easy-pull zippers, a large helmet-compatible hood, a high collar for added protection from the wind and rain, and velcro wrist cuffs for easy adjustment.
You’ll also find several other nice touches, like pit zips for improved ventilation and an integrated RECCO reflector for those just-in-case March and rescue operations.
As with most other Arc’teryx gear, the Alpha SV features an athletic, form-fitting cut. This allows the wearer to move more freely and without restriction, which is a huge benefit when climbing or hiking.
For those not used to this design style, it can feel a bit restrictive, however, so keep that in mind when sizing. The form-fitting design is a part of this jacket’s overall performance, but it can take some getting used to when first wearing it.
Gore-Tex Pro Delivers Breathability and Performance
Gore-Tex is a brand that has been synonymous with wind and waterproofing for decades. Dozens of brands use the company’s fabrics, and consumers have come to know it for providing reliable performance in adverse weather.
As you would expect, Gore-Tex Pro delivers the performance you would expect, and then some. In terms of being wind and waterproof, it offers the highest level of protection that Gore currently offers. That said, it also has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
Gore tells us that Gore-Tex Pro is its most breathable wind and waterproof fabric ever. That is good news for anyone who has found themselves in the middle of a storm with their jacket keeping them dry, only to sweat out underneath.
More breathable Gore-Tex will help alleviate that issue to a degree, and I’d say that Gore has made great strides in this area. It isn’t on par with some of the more breathable fabrics that the North Face is creating these days, but those materials have their own set of challenges to overcome.
For Gore, it is all about maintaining improving airflow, but not at the expense of compromising comfort and protection in other areas.
Gore-Tex Pro has also put a strong emphasis on remaining extremely durable too. The jury is still out on some of the new-fangled fabrics from other companies at this point, but we all know that Gore-Tex is extremely strong in this area.
The Pro version improves durability even more, which is why Arc’Teryx was quick to include it in its new products. Just like Gore, the apparel manufacturer isn’t willing to sacrifice durability for limited performance improvements elsewhere.
Simple, Elegant, and Effective
One of the Alpha SV jacket’s greatest strengths is its simple and effective design. This isn’t a garment that has a lot of frills or unnecessary design elements.
For the most part, it is a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” product that sees the value in remaining focused on performance and durability. If you’re in the market for this style of jacket, that’s probably exactly what you want anyway, and Arc’teryx knows their customer well enough to deliver the good.
While wearing this jacket in various bad weather conditions, I’ve found it to an outstanding shield against wind, rain, and snow.
Better still, I found that it offered that protection without impeding my ability to move quickly and easily, even when climbing or descending challenging trails covered in snow, ice, and mud.
As someone who likes to move reasonably quickly in those environments, the Alpha SV’s form-fitting design is perfect. And when paired with athletic-cut layers underneath, it proves itself to be a shell jacket with very little true competition to compare it to.
High Quality at a Price
If you’re already familiar with Arc’Teryx products, then you know that they tend to come in on the upper end of the price spectrum. This happens to be the case with the Alpha SV, which retails for a cool $799 but is considerably less on Amazon.com
That puts it squarely out of reach for the average outdoor consumer, but this jacket is intended for that audience anyway. Instead, this Alpha SV is built for the more advanced and experienced mountain athlete.
Someone who not only expects excellent performance from their gear but demands it. This garment is made for those going to remote, wild, and difficult places, where enduring the conditions can spell the difference between success and failure.
Sometimes even the difference between life and death. For that person, the price of this jacket is completely justified and well worth every penny.
It’s not often that I get to review an $800 jacket and say that it is a good value. Indeed, to the untrained eye, this piece of apparel looks like it lacks in features, fits too snugly, and is overpriced.
For the athlete, mountaineer, or explorer who is putting their trust in Arc’Teryx to take care of them in extreme environments, the value proposition here is quite clear.
If you absolutely had to choose just one shell jacket to bet your life on, this is the one you should pick. It isn’t easy to put a price tag on that level of protection and performance.
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