Arc’teryx Men’s Alpha SL Hybrid ReviewJuly 10, 2012
- Excellent weather protection.
- Good mix of weight, breathability and durability.
- Versatile design for hiking, climbing and skiing.
- Water-resistant pit zips are hard to work.
- The 'Blue Galaxy' color is really purple.
At 12 ounces and fully weatherproof, this is a bomber shell that could easily be your four season, take everywhere jacket. The design is thoughtful: hand pockets are placed high on the body out of the way of pack straps or harnesses but still usable, the hood is generous, and the overall cut is athletic, but still roomy enough for layering.
For 2012, Arc’teryx took their full Gore Tex Paclite Alpha SL and turned it into a hybrid. At first glance, it just looks two-tone, but look inside and you’ll notice that the backing differs between the colors. On the back, front and hood, Arc’teryx used 2.5-layer Paclite membrane, which is lightweight and highly packable. Then, to beef up durability, they added strips of Gore’s three-layer Pro Shell in high wear and tear areas, around pockets and under the arms.
After five months of use, we can testify to the durability of the Pro Shell: it still beads water, even where our pack straps rub, and emerged from several heinous bushwhacks unscathed. The Paclite-Pro shell combo stood up to 60-mile per hour winds and torrential rain without popping a leak. Breathability is on par with other Paclite and Pro Shell jackets we’ve tried, which is good, but not as good as eVent, Gore Tex Active Shell or Polartec Neoshell.
The vertical, water resistant pit zips help with breathability, but they’re hard to open and close, particularly if you’re pulling the two-way zips up. The hood is roomy enough to fit a helmet and easily adjusted with one hand. A separate bungee adjusts the volume around the chin guard, which sits high with a fleecy strip over the zipper; perfect for hunkering down in nasty weather.
The hand pockets sit at a perfect height: ideal for keeping fingers warm, but out of the way of harnesses and hip belts. While the pockets aren’t huge, there’s enough room for essentials. Also, the hip length cut features a slight taper to the tail, articulated elbows and just enough room for a puffy jacket to fit underneath. The sleeves are a little longer, but we didn’t mind—we were never left bare-wristed on long reaches.