Arcteryx Fissile ReviewOctober 9, 2015
- Great fit for most body types
- Luxurious feel
The Arcteryx Fissile, is an ideal ski coat for cold weather. The only downfall to this jacket is its hefty price tag—but you get what you pay for—and in the case of this jacket, you get a warm, comfortable, and durable jacket that will last a long time.
The Fissile is cut from three-layer 70 denier Gore Tex, meaning it’s pretty darn tough. Seams are sealed and construction is up to Arcteryx’s usual standards. They claim their gear is designed for a full season of professional (read: ski patrol) use, so should last a couple hundred days in even direct alpine sun and wind and rain. This stuff rarely gets returned for defects.
The best way to keep your down coat dry is to wrap it in a shell, which is the case with the Fissile. Another great way is to do something else Arcteryx has done, which is swap out down insulation for synthetic in key areas that attract the most moisture, the hood, collar and hemline in this case. The hood is big and roomy, but cinches down beautifully with a four-point system. There’s a powder skirt, hemline cinches, and well-designed wrist cuffs to go over or under gloves. The pit zips are backed by mesh, so you can ride with them open and not worry about snow getting packed into your armpits if you wipe out.
The Fissile’s breathability is on par with other insulated jackets in this test. There are mesh-backed pit zips to aid ventilation.
This jacket has everything you want, and nothing you don’t. It has six pockets total—twin drop pockets fit gloves or even skins, bicep pocket is good for a radio or ski pass. Any more features would be overkill. It’s got Recco in case you get buried by a slide or get stuck out of bounds, or in a tree well, and the four-point hood adjustment is perfect.
Thanks to 750-fill down and the synthetic insulation zones, the Fissile is a very warm jacket that manages moisture adroitly, and seems to fit all but the most beer-bellied. There’s tremendous freedom of movement without the coat being baggy. The secret is in the roomy cut of the shoulders.
All the ski jackets and pants reviewed are tested by the same five criteria; materials, features, weatherproofness, temperature control and fit/comfort. All the pieces were tested over multiple days in a variety of conditions to see how they perform throughout an entire ski season. Testers do all they can to try out every piece on the same day to compare each one in similar conditions and they get out on lots of days to test the jackets in a range from sunny spring days to stormy wintery days to see how they hold up.
For materials, the specifications provided by the brands is often very important. These specifications tell us what type (if any) and amount of waterproofing or insulation a jacket may have. With a wide variety of third-party insulating and waterproofing materials available, as well as the recent rise of “in house” proprietary materials being used, it is important to know exactly what fabrics and insulations are being added to each piece in an effort to distinguish what makes one piece better than the next. Since testers typically only have only one season to test these pieces, durability is determined in part by any obvious fraying, ripping or other signs of reduced durability.
Since heavily insulated jackets are primarily intended for lift accessed skiing and riding there is an expectation that features will be tailored to provide the ultimate in comfort and convenience when on the mountain. This means that features such as a powder skirt, pockets for gear, a dedicated pass pocket, a helmet compatible hood, and wrist gaiters are all expected and then extra features such as a RECCO reflector or insulated phone pocket are considered a bonus.
The weatherproofness of a jacket first depends on what the intended purpose of the jacket is and then is based on the specifications that the brands supply. Since most heavily insulated jackets will be used at the resort under cold conditions there is an expectation that the jacket be able to shed blowing snow for the stormiest of days yet also fairly breathable. Since these jackets are for very cold weather, waterproofness isn’t as necessary.
The temperature control of a jacket is also based on the specifications that the manufacturer provides. The line between a lightly and heavily insulated jacket isn’t clear cut but generally one would expect to use a heavily insulated jacket primarily when the temperatures drop well below freezing and need to still be comfortable when the day proceeds to get even colder. The jackets are then rated to how well they do in very cold temperatures and more importantly how well the jacket does when the temperatures fluctuate which is a common occurrence for any regular snow sports enthusiast. Breathability plays a big factor here because the breathability of a jacket will affect how warm or cold one feels as heat generated while skiing and then go sit on a long chair lift afterwards. The ability to fully unzip pit zips is a crucial part of temperature control since that is often the largest factor in preventing overheating.
Lastly, the fit and comfort category is fairly subjective but having multiple testers use the product provides for a good range of body shapes and opinions. Factors that are important here are how long or short a jacket is and if it is true to size. For determining comfort, the amount of stretch the jacket has and how soft it is on the inside often plays into the rating.