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The Arc’teryx Men’s Alpha SL Pullover epitomizes the light-and-fast ethic. This 11-ounce shell features Gore-Tex Paclite shell fabric for waterproof breathable protection on lightweight backpack trips and alpine rock climbs. The jacket's underarm vent zips let you dump heat when you need to, and one vent zip extends all the way down to the hem for easy-on and -off even when you're wearing a helmet. Fully watertight zippers eliminate leaking. The adjustable storm hood fits over your climbing helmet, and the jacket stows in the front kangaroo pocket when the weather clears.

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Almost great

  • Familiarity:I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit:Runs small

As others have already stated in reviews, this is a pretty great jacket in a lot of ways. It will keep you dry and out of the wind. No question about that. So as far as accomplishing its intended purpose, it does the trick. However, a 100 rain shell will accomplish that as well, maybe with a little less breathability. So what makes this shell so expensive, even on sale? A lot of reviewers have said that the fit, the fabric, the attention to detail, and especially the dead bird on your chest are reasons. Here's how I feel about each of those.

Fit: Good, not great. I'm about 5'10, 165 lbs, I got the small, I wanted something that fit close to my body for summer hiking, biking, all around wear. It fits pretty well, the arm length is perfect, and the back length is good, but the thing comes above my waist and belt buckle in the front, and I have a short torso. It's just too short. When riding a bike, it's nice, but when just walking in the rain, a t-shirt hangs out the bottom. The proportions are just a bit off. I also have a medium in another Arcteryx alpha jacket (full zip), and the length is much better in the torso, but pretty long in the arms.

Finish: Amazing. Worth paying extra over budget shells. The fabric is awesome, more durable than other options, zippers work, seams are sealed perfectly, it's just great. The attention to detail is also impeccable, down to every stitch. It's hard to put it on and go get it dirty, it's just that good looking.

Performance: Good. It's gore-tex, and performs like gore-tex. Semi-breathable, ultra waterproof.

The main thing I dislike is the pullover. I thought it would be great, you keep more water out and it's lighter, but it's annoying after a while. I prefer a full zipper. Unless you're going to keep the jacket on for hours on end in rain, it's nice to have a full zip to vent, remove the jacket easily without pulling over your head, and just makes it more comfortable.

Got to love the reviews like this one - this jacket would be perfect (for me) if it was redesigned for my very own purpose. This is a ultralight climbing shell, not a hiking jacket, so yes it was designed with the idea that you would keep it on all day tucked under a harness.

^^^ Good call, calling me out on a 1.5 y/o review of a discontinued product. Either way, description here on backcountry says "backpacking, trekking..." and I know other users might be using it for that, so I commented with that in mind. Heaven forbid I use my climbing shell for something besides climbing...

3 years old

  • Familiarity:I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit:True to size

I got mine about 3 years ago. It is the most universal piece of equipment I own!!! I keep it in my pack while commuting to work. I have used it inthe dead of winter in 20 degree weather and in the summer during a rain storm while commuting. It has a nice generous cut and poncho mode is amazing. You could vent this jacket like you would not believe. I even worn it skiing in a blizzard once. I just layered accordingly and the pac lite kept the elements out. I am beyond happy about this purchase and can't wait to buy a new one in a different color!

Great Alpine Jacket

  • Familiarity:I've used it several times
  • Fit:Runs large

This jacket is extremely versatile and stows into the hood. The hood itself fits over the top of a helmet very easily. The side zippers are convenient to prevent overheating and easy on and off access. Verdict: This is a jacket I bring on all climbs and hikes and will certainly be getting more gear from Arc'teryx in the future.


    Love this jacket. Super lightweight and still pretty durable. The very adjustable hood is a key feature as well. It's big enough to fit over a helmet but can be adjusted down to fit well without one also. The jacket has a bit more of a tail on it than I expected, but that is very nice for biking. I am 6'2" ~180 and the Large fits me well.

    World's Best Jacket

      I love this jacket so much I bought a second one. I'd been searching for the right jacket for a long time. Onre that performs as well as it looks and I have found it in this one. I needed a jacket that performs well in hot and wet conditions and in cold and wet as well. This jacket meets my requirements perfectly.

      The first one was great but a fraction small for me and other than that, I can't fault it. I'm 6' and 185lb and the medium was a little tight. I've since ordered the XL as I want extra room to wear warm bulky gear underneath the jacket. The full zip down one side is brilliant for getting the jacket over bulky warm clothing and then zips up nice and neat

      We have had a really wet summer down here and this jacket has kept me very dry and never let me down in some extremely heavy rain.

      The hood design is fantastic and there are a number of adjustments that can be made to get the fit just right. I've never had a jacket with a hood that fits so well. Even in heavy rain it never leaked and I could maintain visibility and full movement.

      The jacket also performs well in hot, wet conditions. The zipper vents under the arms allows for plenty of ventilation and the jacket breathes well when zipped up.

      The Kangaroo pouch is great too and access is very easy. I like to keep snacks in there and it does the job and I barely notice anything is in there.

      If you're undecided, just buy it, you won't regret it.

      Wallet, phone, keys, knife, Alpha SL

        ... this shell comes with me nearly every single day. The weather shifts fast here and the Alpha is so packable, it's stupid not to bring it along. I've never owned a garment that fits so perfectly - I'm 5'7", 135 lbs, climbing build, and the small looks like it was made for my body. I can wear it with low-loft down layer underneath with no issues at all, and the spacious hood accommodates every helmet I own, even my bulky ski brain-bucket. The DWR wears a bit after a few years of almost daily use, but while the beads don't fall off like they used to, I have never gotten wet wearing this piece. Beyond that, I constantly get compliments on the jacket, which is hard to believe given everyone in Boulder is a gear-snob like myself. I can't think of a single bad thing about this shell.


          Nice jacket, fairly light, simple, clean lines. Not sure it's worth the price tag in all honesty. Got it on sale and I'm happy, but it's not all that special. That said, no regrets. Be prepared for: oversized hood (great over a helmet, ok without when cinched down), baggy fit (nice in winter), long sleeves and hem (love), asymmetric pit zips, arc'teryx logo (it's what you're here for).

          Alpha SL-Bombproof and simple

          • Familiarity:I've put it through the wringer

          Pull it over your head, zip it up and go. Is it raining? Pull the hood over your head and use the cinches, the visor is absolutely perfect. Hot? Pull the 8 inch pit zips all the way open. The GTX Paclite even feels good next to skin, add that to the pit zips and a breeze and you've got a good temp regulator system.

          I've taken it through 50 yards of thorns (nasty Devils Thorn), sat on it, dried the inside over a fire (had ice form overnight in it, oops), and guess what? Not a scratch on it..bombproof.

          I'm 5 11', 160 lbs, have ape-like arms, I got a medium and routinely layer a puffy underneath no problem.

          This things a workhorse. Buy it. It's that simple.

          Alpha SL-Bombproof and simple

          Like oils and dirt, smoke could possibly clog the pores in the membrane but, on a practical level I really haven't noticed a different when working up a sweat. The arm-length pit zips help.

          While the science is true, it always plays out differently in the field, depending on each persons body type (sweats alot, no sweat, etc).

          Hello I want to buy an Arc'teryx Alpha SL Pullover,but it looks very thin ,I am worried that he is not strong enough, branches or stones torn? I want to know the fabric wearable?If this dress will often wear or frequent washing?to do so will lose its function? I want to buy a very suitable for long time wearing and can maintain its functions in SL?Sorry for my bad english?

          @vickybabytoy it is certainly a thinner GORE-TEX than the pro-shell fabrics, but I've pushed mine through miles of thick willow bushes and worn it up a number of rock climbs, and have never worried about tears in the fabric. I don't think you'll need to wash it often since you can very easily rinse it off and hang it. In short, yes it's thin, but I've put it through its paces and never had an issue! Plus if something does happen, Backcountry will refund you no questions asked.

          great simple jacket

          • Familiarity:I've used it several times

          I bought this to be my go to hard shell and I'm not disappointed. Very light weight, great fit, ample venting, and pack ability. With the hood was not so big but I was designed for helmet use, and you can get it tight enough on the head to not be a bother to much when not wearing one. overall if you don't need hand pockets and you like simple effective designs then this coat may be for you.

          Rain rain go away.

            The Alpha SL is a minimalist Paclite rain / wind jacket in a great cut with nice features. I love the one sided zipper. The front pocket takes some getting used to, but once you easily reach in there and pull out your cell phone/Cliff bar/GPS while wearing a pack I think you'll appreciate it.
            The colors are unique as well. Keep in mind that this is a Paclite jacket. It will take a beating but it is still a light weight garment. And it's crinkly.
            I have used it as a wind breaker while rock climbing and have yet to permanently scuff it, but I've been semi careful. Wearing a 20 lbs pack for 3 or 4 miles at a time has done nothing to it at all.

            Great Jacket

              The construction of this jacket seems to be bomber, as i would expect from arcteryx. So far i haven't got the chance to use it in a downpour, but in a wet snow, it sheds water just as it should.Good for climbing allowing a great range of motion. Also, its nice to have the chest pocket with the harness on (much easier to get to than the conventional side pockets) and Its very easy to get on and off with use of the side zipper. I'm 6'2" 160lb and the medium fits me perfect, its long enough and and isnt too wide. I've gotten tons of complements when wearing around town and i would totally recommend this jacket to anyone.

              Love wearing this Shell

                This is a great shell. I have worn it over the past three years for biking, hiking, spring skiing and for around town on rainy days and it has kept me dry and exceeded my expectations. My shell is a medium and it fits me well, but is a bit long. I am 5' 7" 162lb (atletic build). If I have a re-do, might go with a small.

                as close as i've found

                  I've been constantly looking for a trim fitting PacLite jacket. While I will never find one that fits to my extreme athletic fit liking, this one is just close enough.

                  6'0", 155 lbs. Medium is perfect. Not awkward by itself and fits perfectly with a 100wt fleece underneath.

                  Side zip is not completely necessary but it IS useful. Try pulling this thing over a heavier weight fleece and then complain about it!

                  The hood is large (smaller than the Storm hood on the SV) but it has 3 cinches that trim it down very nicely.

                  almost perfect... almost

                    Simple, light, always in my pack - BC skiing, hiking, rainy bike commute - this jacket has me covered. I only need the side zip when trying to put this on over insulating layers. The collar and hood offer plenty of protection. I'm 6'0 180 lbs and the medium fits me perfectly.

                    My one gripe has to do with the big pocket. I love the size, placement, and accessibility it offers to stuff. But why, oh why, did they not tape the bottom seam? Let's say you put a phone in there. What happens is the weight of the phone pulls he inside of the pocket down a bit so the seam isn't actually the lowest part. When water covers the seam, this causes it to enter the pocket through the seam. One more piece of tape and I would easily give this 5 stars.

                    This jacket is iPad approved

                      I just bought this jacket and love it, especially considering I got it half off at rei. It's plenty durable and waterproof for everyone short of those who really beat their gear. If you're really looking for an easy on and off jacket I don't exactly recommend this but that's the only gripe I have. And just for those who are curious the poutch fits and iPad1 easily, a little snug with case but still fits. Those of you in Seattle will appreciate this as it tends to rain very unexpectedly.

                      Trying to decide between a Medium or Small....

                      Trying to decide between a Medium or Small. Will be using it mainly for cycling and hiking. At the very most will probably have on a tee and lightweight mid layer underneath. I'm 5'9", 155lbs - athletic build. 38"chest and wear a 29" in pants.

                      You could probably get away with the small if you like the length. The Alpha SL fits pretty wide in the chest and if you have a very thin mid layer it would work. It will be a trim fit but it really depends on how you like your stuff to fit. You could always order a medium and a small from backcountry and try both on. Return the one you dont want (backcountry has the best return policy in the business).

                      Thanks for the replies - I don't want too much excess material that will just flap in the wind. How big a difference is there in the length between a Med and Small? I went over the size guide on their site and I sit right on the numbers listed for small. But I've never found many sizing charts useful. I'm in Australia so returns are something I would want to avoid. The only other Arcteryx gear that I own is a Rho AR fleece top in a Med - pretty comfy fit, not too tight. But from the reviews I heard they run small so I ordered a Med.

                      I have a small in this jacket, and I'm 5'9.5", 165lbs, about a 38 in the chest, 32 waist size. With just a t shirt or two on, it fits well, the length in the arms is just right, and the body fits well. If I put a base layer on that's any thicker than a t shirt, it starts to feel a bit tight. The length in the front is short, it sits right around my belt buckle, but in the back, it's a good bit longer. For bike riding, it would work, especially if you want a tighter fit, and the drop hem will keep your crack covered. If you're looking at wearing a base layer and a t shirt most of the time, I'd probably size up to a medium. Both will work. If you want a tighter, slimmer, more stylish looking jacket, get the small, it will fit well. If you want a little more room for layering, get the medium, and just expect that it will be a bit baggy through the torso and a bit longer in the arms.

                      Im 6'4, 215lbs athletic build. The Alpha...

                      Im 6'4, 215lbs athletic build. The Alpha SL full zip fits very short in a L, but is way too baggy in an XL. Anyone know if the pullover is any different? Should I go with a L or XL?


                      Best Answer

                      Hmm. I'm 6'2" 170lb with the large pullover. My house mate has the medium full zip. Based on those I'd guess the pullover and the full zip fit pretty similar for a given size. The pullover is pretty baggy through the chest, and fits pretty long. I could easily have gone medium and given up some layering room without worrying much about length. All that to say, go with what you'd choose in the full zip.

                      I'm 5 8 ', 160, should I go with the medium...

                      I'm 5 8 ', 160, should I go with the medium or small, I'm planning on using it for my 64 miler race in January, I'll definitely have a layer or two underneath.

                      i want to buy this. im 5'11 and around 165...

                      i want to buy this. im 5'11 and around 165 pounds. i plan to layer a bit under it with maybe a sweat and a long sleeve flannel. which size should i get?

                      Hey I was just wondering if this jacket...

                      Hey I was just wondering if this jacket would be suited to the city environment and at uni? I have a TNF venture jacket and it's peeling like crazy and is no longer waterproof after 6 months

                      Best Answer

                      Arc'teryx's SL jackets are made from Gore Paclite. It's a lightweight material that sacrifices durability for weight savings. If you plan on wearing this around campus, look at the Pro Shell (AR or LT) models or Hybrid models. They'll take a bit more abuse than a pure Paclite jacket.

                      I have both an Alpha SL Pullover and Jacket....

                      I have both an Alpha SL Pullover and Jacket. Looking for a fleece layer for those cold skiing days. Any suggestions? BTW current fleece is appoaching 30 yrs of service.

                      I'm looking to buy this jacket online but...

                      I'm looking to buy this jacket online but can't find a retailer in my city that carries this style to try on. I'm 5'11, 165-170 lbs. At the very most i will be wearing a hoody underneath this shell. What size should i buy?

                      I need a jacket that can handle very hard...

                      I need a jacket that can handle very hard driving rain. Is this zipper just seam sealed or is there also a storm flap underneath? I have found that seam sealed zippers always leak in the driving rain and the pictures do not show the zipper detail.

                      I am a big back country skier, and a looking...

                      I am a big back country skier, and a looking for a versatile shell, something that will be cool enough for touring, but also good layered coming down. I have a Patagonia nano puff jacket, and was thinking of layering the two. Would this combo work for some powder skiing? I dont need a skirt

                      Best Answer

                      The Alpha SL pullover would work great for such use. I have a preference for the Alpha LT jacket because it has better breathability and durability, but it's also more expensive. The Alpha SL pullover is a killer jacket for it's weight and price, and it's rolls down to sandwich size for packing.I fold the arms in to the center and roll it from the bottom hem, up into the hood, and use the hood cinch to keep it tight. This is the best way to pack it tightly, not stuffed into the pocket.

                      I would say that there are better options out there. This is an amazing jacket, but if you're going to be beating on it falling on snow and ice and possible encounters with trees and things I would recommend something more durable. It is super light and packs down to be tiny, but in accomplishing those two things they sacrifice a bit of durability and breathability with just the GORE-TEX Packlite. In addition, to save weight they only put the zip halfway down, which I imagine would get annoying pretty quick if you had to keep taking it on and off.

                      does this jacket tend to run big or small?...

                      does this jacket tend to run big or small? I am 5'7" and 135 pounds and I was wondering if a small would work for me.

                      I do a lot of rainy season traveling in...

                      I do a lot of rainy season traveling in southern Africa, mainly in the bush and in open Land Rovers (with no canopies - so totally open air)... I need a combination lightweight top and pants (rainy season is the summer there and temps are in the 80's/90's).

                      This is the top I am leaning towards based on the reviews I have read.

                      I am a bit confused though with regards to which size is best for me: I am 5'7" and 150lbs.

                      Finally, because I am sitting in a vehicle while being rained on, the pants I need must be totally waterproof - the water will pool in the seat under my butt. Any suggestions for pants would be great!


                      I have used this jacket during the rainy season in Costa Rica where it is also very hot and very wet and I can stand behind it fully as a product. Given your size, i would probably go with the medium. I am 6'2 and 210 and i wear an XL. The L also fit but i like a little room for layering and just moving around. The full side zip will help you with pulling it on quickly and the pac-lite will keep you dry. As for the pants, I would look at just the Alpha SL pant from Arc'teryx. Also made of a pac-lite shell, the Alpha SL pants have ankle zippers and an elastic waist band that will make it very easy to pull them on over boots in a hurry. Together, both Alpha SL pieces make a very lightweight and breathable outfit that will keep you dry and happy.

                      Hello, this may be a stupid question, but...

                      Hello, this may be a stupid question, but I gotta ask:

                      If I pair this jacket with the Epsilon SV Hoody (which I already have), as well as the Accelero Pullover with another shirt underneath, will it make for a fairly insulated and breathable combination?

                      Will it be satisfactory for snowboarding? I'm just a beginner and will most likely be going in 20+ degree weather. Will be going to CamelBack in PA, not hardcore mountains.

                      Is there any real difference betweeen the...

                      Is there any real difference betweeen the pullover and the zip up alpha sl that would be justified with the extra $50 dollars for the zip up?

                      well i guess its just preference, especially when it comes to the pockets and the pullover or complete zipper. the technology is obviously the same and they are very similar in weight, just 2oz difference. you just have to figure out if you want a pullover or a complete zip with 2 hand/storage pockets.