To minimize pilling, wash the fleece inside out with mild detergent on delicate cycle in cold water without any fabric softener, and then, let it air/line dry.
I have one that was made in Canada and one that was made in China. It seems like they are shifting production of their mid-range high demand pieces like the Gamma SV and Gamma MX to China.
This depends on the jacket model and your height / torso length. I am 5'6 with a little shorter torso than average, and Arc'teryx jackets advertised as hip length do fall just below the top of my hips. Arc'teryx also makes waist length jackets which are too short for me if I am wearing them as my outer layer. They are okay as layering pieces, but I generally prefer a little longer jacket during active pursuits. Arc'teryx notes the length of their jackets (in the general terms of waist / hip / below hip), and if that information is not expressly listed on the backcountry site, you can find it on the manufacturer's website.
I have a covert in both the raisin and basmati, and both wash well. I wash mine turning them inside out in cold water on delicate cycle with a mild detergent without fabric softener, and then, I let them line (air) dry. I have not had a problem with any of the colors fading or graying. Oddly, I bought a Delta Lt Zip in basmati, and it actually was a completely different color (it was light gray to start) than the covert. I ended up returning it because of the color. The raisin color is nicer than what it appears on the website. The basmati is nice too, but it picks up and shows dirt easily.
The Epsilon AR falls somewhat in between the two other jackets you mentioned. It has neither a traditional windbreaker feel nor the stiffness associated with some softshells. The Epsilon is very lightweight and comfortable to wear. It conforms to your body allowing for good maneuverability. The new Epsilons out for Spring of 2008 are nicer than the previous year's line in terms of both sizing and quality of material. Note that the 2008 Epsilon is a hip length jacket while the older model is a shorter waist length version.
I started wearing a helmet this year because it is just the smart thing to do. I was worried about a helmet feeling bulky or constricting, but after an hour on the slopes, I did not even notice it was on. The G10 is nice and warm for the coldest days with removable earpieces and adjustable vents for when the weather heats up in the Spring. The G10 fit me similarly to the G9. (There is a definite fit difference between the G9/G10 and the Giro Fuse). The G10 has a slightly sleeker look (think "new school style") than the G9 and has the adjustable venting via a switch on the top of the helmet which makes temperature regulation more convenient than with the G9.
I bought these as a gift for a friend with a wide face, and they fit great! The strike frame is advertised as fitting most face shapes, and it does not disappoint. They may be a little large for a smaller or female faces, but they should fit well on most guys. The black iridium lenses are dark, and function well for outdoor activities on blue-bird days, but as the sun starts to mellow, you may want a lighter colored replacement lens if you are out on the slopes. My guy tells me he likes them because they make him feel "bad," and in this case, that's a good thing!
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