Arc’teryx Alpha SL 2009

Paclite is used in the Arc’teryx Alpha SL jacket to ensure it is both light and compact when stashed in a rucksack. This fabric ensures a low weight, and here the Alpha tips the scales at only 362g for a men‘s size L. The fabric is well-proven and in the lab, test results put it into the ‘extremely waterproof’ and ‘extremely breathable’ category. There are good features too packed into that weight including two large chest pockets, which can be easily accessed while wearing a rucksack. They also boast waterproof linings, so they won’t leak into the body of the jacket if water gets in them. There are pit zips too that allow extra ventilation of the body to reduce condensation. The hood is a good fixed design with a large peak, and the fit and movement are particularly impressive. Equally the movement and fit of the body are superb too. So the whole package is well-suited to adventurous hill-walkers and scramblers. But the main problem with the Arc’teryx Alpha SL jacket is the use of Gore-Tex Paclite fabric, as condensation is far greater with this fabric than with Gore-Tex Pro Shell for example. The front zip does not get an external stormflap either, like a lot of lightweights. The hood peak would be even better with a stiffened wire so that it could be easily reshaped.


Outer Gore-Tex Paclite
Inner none
Fabric waterproofness extremely waterproof
Fabric breathability extremely breathable
Sizes S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 362g (men’s L)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 20

Verdict: For travelling light with great hill-walking features the Arc’teryx Alpha SL is definitely worth a look, but condensation control could be better.


Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2009