Indicative of Arc’Teryx’s pursuit of innovation and cutting-edge design, the company is named for the Archaeopteryx Lithographica which is believed to be the first reptile that evolved feathers for flight “freeing itself from the constraints of the horizontal world.”
As any seasoned, intrepid traveler or global professional knows, the world offers a wide variety of climates that can pose both an adventure and a challenge. With greater distances traveled at higher speeds than ever, we are now able to experience that variety in a relatively short amount of time and are ultimately faced with the important task of carrying adequate clothing for these different environments.
In the realm of cold-weather protection, layered clothing has become the preferred approach to survival and comfort and Arc’Teryx has proven to be a front-runner in the development and production of Inner Layer, Mid Layer and Shell Layer products for adventure sport and outdoor enthusiasts. With their new tactical line known as Arc’Teryx LEAF (Law Enforcement & Armed Forces), they are taking their proven designs to the combat arena. One particular product that I have had the opportunity to test and evaluate crosses both the standard Arc’Teryx apparel line and the new LEAF line: the Alpha series jackets. This versatile Shell Layer is available in a few different configurations such as the Arc’Teryx Alpha Jacket on the LEAF side, or in my case the Arc’Teryx Alpha SL Hybrid which is available on the civilian side.
The differences between these versions are well-thought out and effective. While my jacket does not feature hook-and-loop panels on the shoulders as the LEAF version does, the “Hybrid” designation identifies the mixed use of GORE-TEX® fabric with PacLite® and GORE-TEX® Pro 3L to ensure maximum durability in high-wear areas such as the shoulders while compressing down to a truly impressively small package. The ability to easily and efficiently stow this garment, combined with the effectiveness of the GORE-TEX material has allowed me to carry and use this jacket in environments ranging from the temperate, drizzly Pacific Northwest to the blustery, below-zero reaches of Germany and to the steamy tropical downpours on the Caribbean coast of Panama.
Throughout these varying continents and climates, the Arc’Teryx Alpha SL Hybrid has kept this writer warm, cool, dry and ready for whatever may come. Easily mixed with anything from just a t-shirt to a number of cold-weather layers, the flexibility that this type of garment allows is critical to effective execution of travel and adventure plans.
After one year of solid use as my go-to Shell Layer, my jacket shows no noticeable wear or damage. As always, I live by the creed “Take care of your gear and your gear will take care of you” so I believe it is always worth it to take the time to properly clean and stow clothing and equipment. This is easily done by occasionally wiping the outer and inner surfaces with a damp cloth or hand soap if necessary. As with most GORE-TEX products, the amount and intensity of use will determine when re-treating of the GORE-TEX material might be necessary.
The one complaint that is sometimes voiced about Arc’Teryx products is their cost. While at first glance I am pretty critical when evaluating costs-vs-value, the lifetime guarantee and established reputation enjoyed by Arc’Teryx combined with my personal experience removes doubt that the return on this investment into equipment is well worth it. The Alpha SL Hybrid has certainly earned its place in my wardrobe and with the first Arc’Teryx brand store opening in Seattle, Washington on the 7th of September, it will undoubtedly be joined soon with more choice items from both the civilian as well as LEAF lines of this quality manufacturer.