Arcteryx Macai ReviewDecember 4, 2013
- Impeccable fit
- Great weight to warmth ratio
- Strategic synthetic insulation means drier than other down-filled parkas
- High collar, long hem, simple exterior means very weatherproof
- Recco reflector
- Helmet compatible hood
- Alpine fit can be tight for overweight people
Arcteryx has been setting the pace on skiwear for a decade or more, so you know their first foray into down wasn’t going to be ordinary. This down ski coat was more effective in wet weather than the others thanks to the innovations. Arcteryx wrapped their down baffles in a layer of synthetic insulation to help wick moisture out of the feathers and swapped out feathers for synthetic insulation entirely in key spots like the hood, hems and collar. Everything else is spot on as usual, especially the fit. If you can afford it, buy it. It should last for years.
The outer shell is Gore-tex three-layer pro shell, very waterproof and durable. The Macai is insulated with a blend of high-loft 750-fill feathers, but wrapped in a skein of synthetic insulation to help wick moisture out of the down. They also replaced the down with synthetic insulation sheets in the hem, collar, sleeves, and underarms, all spots more prone to wet out sitting on a chairlift in a snowstorm. The seams are taped for total waterproofing, and most zippers are waterproof as well.
The cut is a traditional alpine one, meaning it won’t fit a beer gut unless you size way up. That means less dead air to heat up, but less room for your torso to move around throwing big tricks in the terrain park. Arcteryx jackets feature a 3-D patterning for the elbows meaning they’re naturally articulated. The Macai has a long hem, a high (and insulated) collar and the hood is insulated and big enough for a helmet, all if which mean plenty of coverage against the wind and blowing snow.
From the outside-in, Arcteryx always keeps their look clean, for style, but more importantly, to reduce the stitching for moisture to penetrate the shell. Arcteryx also keeps the interior very smooth—i.e. not a lot of pockets or texture—so that the jacket slides easily across interior layers for a better range of motion. It sports a zip-out powder skirt if you want to save a few ounces, mesh-backed pit zips for dry ventilation (this jacket is so warm you’ll need it at some point) even in a swirling snowstorm.
There’s a RECCO reflector to help ski patrol find you if you get slid or accidentally wander out of bounds for the night. The hood is just right—warm, big enough for a helmet, but not floppy if you don’t have one, and doesn’t cut off peripheral vision (important on merging ski runs). Lastly, they chose not to make the front zipper waterproof for a simple reason—its easy to open when you need ventilation fast. They just nail all the details, as usual.