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The Arc’teryx Theta SL Jacket provides lightweight, waterproof performance with enough toughness to withstand the abuse you dish out in the wilderness. Two fully waterproof-and-breathable Gore-Tex fabrics combine to strike a balance between packability and durability.

  • Gore-Tex PacLite fabric reduces weight and bulk while still delivering full protection against the elements
  • Gore-Tex ProShell fabric reinforcements in collar, shoulders, and sleeves resist damage to high-stress areas
  • 3-D molded removable Stow Hood offers full coverage without compromising visibility
  • Laminated zippers and hems seal out storms
  • One-hand adjustable drawcords allow quick, easy operation
  • Engineered athletic fit stays close to the body while allowing full freedom of movement
  • Reviews
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Tested on the Appalachian Trail

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

My husband hiked for 5 months on the AT and the jacket was durable but wasn't totally waterproof. Items in his pockets would occasionally get wet. His arms would get moist and it wasn't from sweating. The jacket is very light, cool in warm climates and warm in cool climates. As for size, the sleeves were a bit long but otherwise a good fit. He liked the jacket but not worth the price.

I can echo Debbi's husband's issues with the pockets. Even with the zippers pulled up tight into the miniscule zipper garage, items inside still get wet. I have to put my cell phone into a pants pocket if I want it to stay dry.

Otherwise an excellent jacket.

Not worth the price

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

The jacket looks great and fits great however when exposed to the elements for extended periods (2-3 hours) it gets very wet inside. I expected more for the price.

Lightweight protection

    The Theta SL is a very light shell with some nicely thought out features. The cut and articulation of the shell is great. It is longer in the torso and has about a 2" drop in the rear. nice high volume pockets that work well while wearing a pack. The pit zips are smallish but do a great job of allowing heat and moisture to escape. The hood is a low volume hood. it fits over helmets but it can be a bit snug over some helmets. It cinches up nicely so it does not bellow in the wind. I am not a fan of the roll hood. I would have preferred a 1 piece style hood. The medium fits my 5'10" 165lb frame very well without being too big in the chest (It fits much slimmer than my Theta AR). Arms are a good length for those of us who have monkey style arms.

    I am not fully sold on the mix of paclite and Pro shell. Paclite doesn't breathe that well and I have found it just feels wet inside (and I have had my clothes get wet as well) The gore tex pro shell holds up very well and breathes so much better. for $375 its a pretty expensive paclite shell. At this price point I would expect arcteryx to use the watertight front vislon zip (much smoother slider). Overall its a great shell however, for just a little more I can buy a pro shell jacket from some other manufacturers (ie: north face point five) So for the hefty price tag it gets a 3 star rating

    The Famke Janssen of jackets

      I’ll preface this review with my cut and paste statement that I work as a backcountry backpacking guide in Yosemite National Park. Nearly all of the products I take the time to review have seen at least a half a season, if not more, of use... and I’m committed to not bothering to write a review until I feel like I’ve really gotten to know a product. I never thought I’d bother to write reviews, but I’ve recently decided that since I’ve spent so much time over these last many years reading reviews, and finding a tremendous amount of value in articulate and well-informed opinions, that I wanted to give back to the community. So, with that being said, here we go...

      I picked up this hard shell for under half price. I was so stoked about getting it for such a steal that I didn't do as much research as I normally do, particularly seeing that its a pricey piece of gear.

      For those who aren't familiar with Arcteryx's arbitrary system for naming their gear.. there are a few things that are good to know. Beta = waist length, to accommodate a harness. Alpha = hip length, to provide more coverage while striking a balance between fit and weatherability. Theta = thigh length, to provide the most coverage for heavy weather, and not needing to deal with a harness. LT = Light, SL = Superlight, SV = Severe (weather), AR = All-Round (multiple uses and applications). There are other prefixes, but those are the only ones that really apply to the Alpha, Beta, Theta line. There are cut and fit differences from jacket to jacket, but I'm not going to get too in depth with that here, since this review is, after all, specifically about the Theta SL.

      The SV and LT line consist of shells made of GoreTex (GTX) Pro, which, without digging deep into minutiae, is a very durable double-layered waterproof fabric that has a third layer of backing on the inner side. This backing helps with both durability and wicking moisture away from one's body. The downside is that its heavier and more expensive than GoreTex Paclite. GTX Paclite, which is used in the SL lines, uses a similiar combination of two waterproof laminates, but does not use the backing on the inner side. The inner side of Paclite is a very slick, carbon backing that, when wet, gets a bit clammy. The advantage is that its lighter and cheaper than GTX Pro, the downside is that its less durable, and does nothing to wick moisture away from your body when any form of moisture builds up inside the shell. I've never had durability issues with Paclite, but you do have to be more mindful of prolonged abrasion and any sneaky twigs, branches, or talus that might be poised to puncture it.

      This jacket uses a hybrid of these two fabrics, which is not only an ingenious compromise, but in practice it works incredibly well. The upper quarter of the jacket (the collar, the shoulders, upper back, and the upper chest) and the entire outer portion of the sleeve are made of GTX Pro, while the rest of the jacket consists of Paclite. The end result is that you have a jacket that finds a nice middle ground in cost, weight, and durability... providing abrasion resistance and durability in areas likely to see more use/abuse... and saving weight and cost in areas that are likely to see less wear.

      All of these features combined - the hybrid of both types of GoreTex, the longer cut, the reinforced shoulders, the fantastic packability and low weight... along with the stowable hood, pit zips, and athletic cut all add up to a jacket that is absolutely custom made for backpacking. I've owned, and still own, quite a few shells... and I feel quite comfortable in saying that this is the quintessential backpacking hard shell.

      There is no other hard shell that I'd rather have in my pack when I see the weather, and barometer, taking a dive.

      PS. As a note on fit... I am 6'2" and approximately 165 lbs. I wear a 40 long in sport coats... and this jacket in a large fits me perfectly.

      Overall Great Jacket

        I bought this as my main go to shell for all four seasons. I was looking for a jacket that would be versatile, lightweight and durable. It is a replacement for an old Patagonia Pac lite shell that lasted me almost ten years. So after a couple days of wearing it skiing here in northwest Washington I have only one complaint. The temps have ranged from high twenties to mid thirties. I layered it with an REI synthetic base layer and the Atom Lt Hoody. The jacket did an excellent job of blocking, wind, snow/ sleet and was very comfortable. The only complaint I have with it is that it doesnt vent that well. At lunch and at the end of the day there was a significant amount of condensation on the inside of the jacket, which also caused my Atom Lt to feel a big soggy. I will say that the condensation is primarily only where the PacLite fabric is on the body. The areas with ProShell were dry. This also has me concerned about wearing it on spring or summer days since we get quite a bit of rain. So ultimately thinking of returning it and purchasing a different Arcteryx with full Pro Shell

        GREAT JACKET!!

          I'm not going to get involved in the bickering of the other two,
          but without question I agree with the first guy.
          This jacket was designed with very specific purposes: to stay dry and to reduce weight.
          For a technical hardshell and something that is water/wind PROOF this has the complete package. It is a good fit for almost any occasion. Day at a rainy ball park, windy day, and it most certainly tough enough for a rugged back country jaunt.


            i don't know,i'm 5'9'' and 205,i got it xl and it fits nice over the nf windwall 2.this jacket is super,super lightweight,i mean so lightweight that it feels flimsy,don't get me wrong,i think is the most comfortable jacket ever,but it feels flimsy,i don't think it would be adequate for the outdoors,more of a rain jacket for the urban adventurer,i'm gona stick with the theta ar so i can be like a

            That's fantastic that you think it feels flimsy, have you battle tested it? Arc'teryx is one of the only companies that truly puts their gear to the test to justify their price point. Here's a little video of one of the tests face fabrics endure:

            Lastly, the denotation of SL, as in Theta 'SL', stands for Super Light. When a garment is manufactured using super light materials you 'sacrifice' durability for weight. This jacket is far tougher than almost all jackets that offer you the same weather protection in it's weight class. So to call it 'flimsy' when you admit you haven't battle tested it makes your review of this jacket ineligible to mean anything at all. It really just shows that not only do you not know your gear, but that you're too stupid to even give an accurate review of a jacket.

            Thanks for trying.

            Quality Technical Shell

              Firstly, the price of this piece is just right if you understand the sweat equity Arc'teryx invests in every piece of their gear line. This piece is no different; a perfect mixture of Gore-Tex Pro Shell reinforced in the high abrasion areas of the garment, the neck, the shoulders, and the arms and the ultra lightweight and durable Gore-Tex Paclite throughout the body. The stitch count is easily 25 per inch and the jacket is completely seam sealed. Most times, having a zip away hood, this one is helmet compatible by the way, makes you look like you're wearing a neck brace. Not so with this one, very reasonably sized stowed away and very easy to unzip and throw over your head.

              The concept is great between Pro Shell and Paclite and here is why; heat rises, and while Pro Shell is a more durable fabric, it breathes better than the Paclite, so as you are pushing yourself the heat is rising up through your shoulders, neck, and arms and is able to breathe easier because the Pro Shell is in all of those places.

              This is a very bombproof jacket, best of it's kind for how light it is (13.1 oz in Medium!) and the nice part is it covers your bum for the nastiest of storms, but it isn't cut as long as it's cousin the Theta AR. It has one handed pull drawcords around the waist, velcro tapered cuffs for your wrists, and a fully adjustable and stowable hood that can cinch down tight and block out the windiest snow/rainstorms.

              The best part about this jacket for me is that it is only 2 ounces heavier than their Beta SL but can withstand FAR more abuse in the mountains. It packs down to 1/2 the size of a 1L Nalgene, basically a softball in size Large which is what I wear. I am 5'10" 205 and it fits snugly over my Montbell Permafrost Light Down Jacket if the mercury really drops. Ideally, a baselayer and midlayer will be perfect and you'll have just enough room.

              I have several Arc'teryx jackets and I can truly say that they are the best jackets out there for their specific activities. Few come close, but if you want the best, Arc'teryx is the answer.

              Is the Arcteryx Theta SL the same jacket...

              Is the Arcteryx Theta SL the same jacket as the Arcteryx Theta SL Hybrid?

              Hey guys. I am 6', 225 pounds - athletic...

              Hey guys. I am 6', 225 pounds - athletic fit. My chest is between 46 and 48 depending on what I'm preparing for. I usually run between an XL and XXL in jackets and was wondering if you thought an XXL would be too big in the Theta SL. We're getting ready for a Quetico canoe trip and then back to hot, humid Africa for agriculture/water project works, so wanted something light, packable, breathable, VERY waterproof for monsoons, and durable (while not being close to $300) - so this seems to fit the bill. We'll also do a few months in the Alps (not hiking, etc.) where I'll need to layer under it. Thanks!

              Quick question on sizing. I'm a small guy,...

              Quick question on sizing. I'm a small guy, and I tried on a small with a puffy underneath it fit great. I'm also looking at the alpha sl. My question is both the alpha sl and the theta sl are athletic fit, will they both be cut the same size and fit the same in the chest arm and waist. I know the theta will be slightly longer. Just want to know if they are the same otherwise. Any help would be great

              I was walking for about 2 miles in 35...

              I was walking for about 2 miles in 35 degree weather and when I got home I noticed condensation on the top part of the jacket. Pretty much where the paclite meets the pro shell. Is this normal? I thought this jacket was supposed to breathe well? Very confused about this.

              I dont know where to stick this question...

              I dont know where to stick this question as its very general? I got this jacket and had it on with only a t-shirt in 35 degree weather. I was kinda cold but it really didnt bother me. My body runs hot all the time anyway. Would somthing like a LT or AR hold more heat than the SL shell? I guess my question is, what is the major difference with the shells if they are all breathable and waterproof and require layers to be fully warm?

              Each of those shells have different styles of the same materials. The AR is the heaviest (about 17 oz) and is 3 layer Goretex Pro Shell. The LT is a little bit lighter than the AR but also 3 Layer pro shell. The SL is 2 layer Pac lite. So they are different variations of waterproof breathable materials. The weights and fabric thicknesses will influence how much warmth they will retain, but only by a slight factor.

              Long story short, most hard shells will retain similar amounts of heat. If it's not right, wear some baselayers/midlayers or look into a waterproof softshell or waterproof insulated jacket!

              Has anyone else had issues with condensation...

              Has anyone else had issues with condensation building up inside when layering in colder conditions? How about how it performs in more mild temps?

              Best Answer

              Paclite certainly does not breathe as well as pro shell. I have noticed condensation in my Theta SL when doing intense activity (I always try to keep the vents open a bit to prevent it). The Pro shell on the shoulder and top of arms seem to breathe much better. I see your review below- this is certainly not meant to be a ski shell. Get yourself a pro shell jacket.

              I've had condensation issues with this jacket in mild, wet conditions while exerting myself. But, no wp/b shell is going to pass your sweat vapor when it's as wet outside of the shell as it is inside. In cold, dry conditions, you shouldn't be getting condensation on the inside of the coat. If you're moving enough to start sweating under the shell, it's time to remove a layer.

              Could this be used as a winter jacket?...

              Could this be used as a winter jacket? Typically temperatures around 15-30 degrees.

              Hello, Is anyone aware if this jacket is...

              Hello, Is anyone aware if this jacket is made in Canada or China?

              I saw on in REI store it was Canada. The one I got off this site says China. Also on the left arm mine only says "Goretex" where the pictures off and also the jacket I saw said Goretex paclight shell. Anyone else?

              I think that pretty much all their stuff is made in China now.

              Nothing says "We care about Quality" quite like outsourcing to virtual slave labor in un or under developed countries. Especially one with a spotty record with respecting intellectual property and meeting contracts is concerned.

              It's the one thing keeping me looking at other brands.

              How does the Theta withstand abrasions and...

              How does the Theta withstand abrasions and other such snags associated with trail running? I'm looking for a waterproof jacket with a stowable hood to run trails...thanks

              It has a mix of Proshell and pac-lite gore tex fabric. The proshell is located on the shoulders and arms (which is a tougher denier nylon as well). It provides a little extra abrasion resistance . The paclite use a lighter nylon but the weave is still quite tight and is a very durable fabric itself. These are great jackets (they do fit a little longer in the torso- so you may want to try one on to see how it fits you)
              good luck

              is this any different from the 2009...

              is this any different from the 2009 model?

              Best Answer

              This current generation of Theta SL started in the 2009/10 run. These use the combination of pro-shell and pac-lite The only thing that has changed since than is the color palate. The previous version of the Theta SL (circa 2006 and older) are a combination of Gore XCR and pac-lite and have a slightly different pocket orientation and hood configuration. Hope this helps

              How does the sizing differ on this from...

              How does the sizing differ on this from the Alpha SL? In terms of chest/length and overall roominess?

              Theta AR or SL in Florida? Thanks for...

              Theta AR or SL in Florida?
              Thanks for taking my question. The Theta AR purportedly uses the more "breathable" Prolite Gore-tex but looks more bulky and weights more than the Theta SL. The Theta SL uses a less "breathable" Gore-tex (packlite). Given the make-up of materials and weights, which pack would you recommend for hiking and canoeing in Florida which is 10 degrees shy of Hyades? I would prefer the Theta's cut because it covers my pant pockets better during a deluge.

              Best Answer

              You'll be more comfy in the Theta AR- breathability is better, but the main difference is the woven backer on the inside of the GoreTex Proshell jacket will keep moisture from condensing against your skin; well, sort of, in 90% humidity. You could look at the Alpha LT for lighter weight proshell, but it is 1.5 inches shorter on the hem.

              Hmm thats odd... most people i talk to (I'm from FL) who have Arc' gear swear by Pack-lite OVER proshell... I really can't explain it technically, but breathability or not, hotter is not better... so.. i say pit zips for the win no matter what.

              hey Brandon! could i get away with a...

              hey Brandon! could i get away with a large,being 5'9'' and 204 pounds? i want it to pair it with a xl mh monkey man.thanks!

              Hi there! how the fitting of the arcteryx...

              Hi there! how the fitting of the arcteryx theta sl? does it run large,true to size or trim fitting? thnaks!

              What is the length on the XL. Im 6'2"...

              What is the length on the XL. Im 6'2" 240ish do i need the XXL? Why is this jacket not with all the other "rain jackets"? am I missing something?

              Theta jackets (I have Theta AR and have ordered SL few days ago) run pretty large. I am 6'5" and 200 and Theta AR L gives enough space for layering so I ordered L Theta SL. I am pretty sure that XL will be large enough for you if your weight is evenly distributed.

              To answer your question of why this isn't with other 'Rain Jackets', it's because this is categorized as an Ultralight Hardshell. The reason behind this categorization is because of the material Gore-Tex Pro Shell being used at the top of the jacket where your shoulders and arms fit. Pro Shell is lightweight but very durable and even more breathable than the Paclite. Pro Shell will protect you at the top of craggy peaks where nary are 'rain jackets'.

              How does this pack?

              How does this pack?