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Arc'teryx Alpha SL Jacket - Men's

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    25 Reviews


    The alpha dog of technical rain shells.

    Unsurprising fact of the day: mountain storms come out of nowhere and move really quickly. What was a mellow bluebird day can suddenly turn into a serious alpine experience, and you won't be able to stay dry unless you can move as fast as the storm. Weighing in at just 10.8oz, the Arc'teryx Alpha SL Men's Jacket is a tough and compact rain shell that'll keep you one step ahead of the storm. As part of Arc'teryx's Alpha collection (the SL stands for superlight), this shell is designed to be clipped onto your harness or backpack, so you're always prepared on long climbs and alpine expeditions. Made of lightweight nylon and waterproofed with a Gore-Tex PacLite membrane, the SL sports a trim fit with e3D ergonomic and articulated construction to keep you sending during the storm, and provides clean sightlines to your harness so you can grab the right protection without hassle.

    To keep carrying simple, the SL packs into its own pocket and clips to your harness via a webbing loop, keeping it out of the way but close at hand should the weather turn. If it gets really nasty, the StormHood covers your helmet and adjusts with a one-handed cinch, and a WaterTight zipper stops sneaky moisture from finding its way into your jacket. Maybe best of all, the removable HemLock foam insert sits around the hem of the SL, keeping it from slipping up underneath your harness and leaving exposed skin. If that's not thoughtful design, nothing is.

    • Waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex PacLite membrane
    • Trim fit with e3D ergonomic and articulated construction
    • Helmet-compatible StormHood
    • HemLock insert prevents jacket from sliding up under harness
    • WaterTigh front zipper
    • Harness-compatible pocket
    • Item #ARC003A

    Tech Specs

    [membrane/laminate] Gore-Tex Paclite (2-layer), [face fabric] N40r (nylon)
    fully taped
    trim with e3D
    yes, helmet-compatible StormHood
    1 zippered chest
    Claimed Weight
    [medium] 10.8 oz
    Recommended Use
    climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing
    Manufacturer Warranty

    Tech Specs

    • Reviews
    • Q & A

    What do you think about this product?

    Have questions about this product?


      I bought this as a gift for my boyfriend and he loves it! Here's what he had to say:

      I used this Jacket on a recent ice climbing trip and the performance was outstanding! It packs down relatively small for living in my pack on the approach and is very light and reliably waterproof. The fit of this jacket is the most impressive feature, having no waist lift while climbing, or pocket interruption while wearing a harness. The hood fits incredibly well over a climbing helmet and has very customizable drawstrings. As for initial impressions of durability, having rested ice tools on both shoulders and have undoubtably slid exposed ice screws across several spots, there are no noticeable tears or scratches. This jacket does not breathe as well as I would have hoped, but I feel it is a fair compromise for the incredible fit, durability, and size/weight/packability. Pit zips would make this shell a little less barebones, but would add a lot in terms of versatility. I’m 6’0, 185 lbs, athletic build and I’m wearing a size large over a short sleeve base layer, technical fleece, and a soft-shell jacket. I usually wear medium t-shirts and soft shell jackets, and size large hard-shells and outer layers. There is plenty of room to add a puffy underneath if I needed one.


      Solid Minimalist/Emergency Shell

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times
      • Fit: True to size
      • Size Bought: Small
      • Height: 5'10"
      • Weight: 135lbs

      When I bought this jacket several months ago, I was in the market for a high performing packable rain shell that I could stash in my bag for unpredictable day hikes, wet work days, or extended backpacking trips. I looked at a few other jackets from other brands, but was really drawn to this jacket for its minimal design, packability/weight, and price. Since purchasing it, I've had it out in light drizzle around town and rain, hail, and high winds in the mountains and it has kept me bone dry in both extremes and everything in between. Little details like the StormHood, the rip and stick wrist closures, and the cinch waist really bolster the performance, and when it's stored it takes up less space than a Nalgene bottle.

      A few qualms: I can live without side pockets (the lack thereof probably helps with waterproofing), but I feel like this jacket is really missing pit zips. The Paclite fabric is breathable but when the weather rapidly changes from cold, wet, and windy to sunny and damp, or when you have to throw on the jacket during high output activities, it can get a bit swampy. I'd like the ability to get some airflow without having to lose the jacket entirely. I've also seen a few negative reviews elsewhere about the durability of Gore-Tex Paclite fabric, so we'll see how it holds up over time.

      Light an Dry

      • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
      • Fit: True to size

      This Arc'teryx jacket is perfect for those not so sunny overcast days. If you're unsure on the weather for the day, pack this lightweight jacket and you'll always stay dry. Gore Tex will ensure no moisture lingers on the inside of your jacket. The nylon face fabric is durable and will withstand some abrasion. This jacket will keep you outside moving fast and light.

      Don't buy this jacket- it really sucks

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      I bought this jacket (Black, L) 3 or 4 years ago. I rarely wore it- Black was a dumb idea as I could never find the thing lurking in a duffel or gear locker. So I hardly used it.

      About a month ago I found it on the floor of my kit room- the hanger loop had fallen off. I thought little of it. I then wore it on a cliff walk on a stormy day- when I got home I realised that the waist seam had blown out completely- the glue and fabric had completely failed.

      It's an expensive jacket but Arc'teryx has a lifetime guarantee. So I sent the jacket to their warranty team. I was astonished to be told today that the jacket 'has reached the end of its functional lifetime'. They go on to talk about how zips, seams, cuffs etc all fail after time. Mine has been worn maybe 20 times. The fabric is immaculate other than the failure of the crappy seams. I have written back to say that they need to look again at the other signs of usage...because it just isn't true, and will be evident to Arc Teryx, that it has been used extensively.

      Frankly, this is a really expensive jacket and it has been a really bad purchase. It looked OK and well made but it just isn't as good as other jackets I have from Patagonia or TNF. I've hardly worn the thing, I thought I was protected by an expensive brand's guarantee, and it turns out that it was just a very bad purchase.

      Bottom line- you'll be paying a lot for a piece of equipment that is really not suitable for the use for which it is advertised. You're much better off buying from a better, more consistent brand.

      Don't buy this jacket

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      I bought this jacket (Black, L) 3 or 4 years ago as a back up. Black was a bad idea- it was always hard to find it in a gear locker or in a duffel. But I quite liked the fit and the jacket seemed well made.
      The point about it being black is that, because I could never find it, it basically sat in the bottom of wherever I last left it. It was hardly used.

      About a month ago I found it lying on the floor of my boot room- the coat hanging loop had come off, as the glue holding it in place had failed. I thought that was a shame, but nothing more. I then wore it on a stormy afternoon when I was walking on a coast path. When I got home, I found that the wind had shredded the jacket- the waist seam had literally blown apart and the seam was completely torn.

      I thought there must be a manufacturing problem so returned the jacket to Arc'teryx. To my astonishment they have just now told me that the jacket will not be covered by their lifetime warranty. The jacket has barely been worn- maybe 10 or 20 times since I bought it. This is obvious from looking at it- the fabric (other than where the seams have fallen apart) is pristine and unmarked. No frayed cuffs, chin abrasion, shoulder wear etc etc. The glue holding it together has completely failed.

      Short version-this is an expensive jacket that comes from a reputable manufacturer, and it looks OK. But it will not last long and I won't be buying this brand again- and I would suggest you look at the price in the context of both the likely failure and the 'lifetime' warranty. I have always bought Patagonia or TNF, maybe I should stick with them.

      Love this jacket... until it leaked

        I have had this jacket for just over a year. Excellent jacket, fits great. Until last weekend, absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, I wore it outside in the rain last weekend and the arms and all over the inside of the back were wet. See pictures.


        • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
        • Fit: True to size
        • Height: 6'0"
        • Weight: 160lbs

        Your'e prepared for anything with this light and packable rain shell. It packs into its own pocket, making it ideal for traveling. The Gore-Tex fabric holds up in the roughest conditions and the StormHood is an added feature I find particularly handy in stormy weather.

        not worth the premium price

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

        i have owned this shell for approximately five years. recently, I was in a downpour for 45 minutes. i had my phone in the jacket pocket. the pocket filled with water, destroying my phone. after purchasing another phone, several days later, i was in another downpour that was not as intense. fortunately i had protected my new phone in a ziplock bag because once again, the pocket filled with water. I contacted ArcTeryx about this problem. their response was unsatisfactory. My problem is not with losing a phone; i'm displeased, but nothing is perfect. my problem is that this jacket is substantially more expensive than competitors and simply not worth the price. It does not live up to it's billing. it will not protect you or your gear from "mountain stroms." Here is the Company's responses:
        Arc'teryx Goret-Tex jackets are completely waterproof (as long as it is kept clean and reproofed from time to time) but the zippers are not. They are WaterTight zippers and sometimes under extreme conditions or if they are not completely zipped up there can be some moisture that seeps into the pockets. The zippers pass rigorous tests with WL Gore to meet their standards of extreme wet weather.

        There are no waterproof zippers on the market today (except in dry-suits and they are very stiff and difficult to operate) but we have worked with a private company to help invent the technology and YKK zippers now have been using the same technology and sell them to other manufacturers.

        It is also important to note that water will also soak into the outerface fabric and then cause condensation to build up on the inside inhibiting the breathability of the jacket which may also contribute to the moisture build up on the inside of the pocket. Regular maintenance of Gore-tex garments are needed to keep the performance working at its best. Please see link for Gore-tex washing instructions:
        We can also inspect your jacket to see if there is something defective about the zipper so if you wish, you can send us a Warranty Request Form and we will reply back to you with a Return Authorization number. Please see link below to fill out the Warranty Request Form.

        If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-866-458-BIRD (2473) (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, Pacific Time).

        Kind Regards,
        Arc'teryx Service Team - Cory
        ARC'TERYX Equipment

        Light, versatile, functional.

        • Familiarity: I've used it several times
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: Medium
        • Height: 5'10"
        • Weight: 160lbs

        I haven't put this shell through the wringer yet (only used it a few times this year for spring skiing). But that said, it's the best shell I've owned. It's paper thin, but it keeps the wind out—even at the top of the tram in strong gusts. The slim fit makes it perfect for running or just wearing around in the rain, and the water bounces off the Gore-Tex. Despite the slim fit, it offers excellent mobility. It fits comfortably over a baselayer and my puffy, which is a bit boxy because it was made before slim-fitting outdoor gear became the style.

        The jacket is positioned as a helmet-compatible climber's shell, so I was worried it might not fit as well over a skier's helmet. I was wrong to be worried. It fits perfectly over a helmet, plus the drawstrings allow for optimal visibility and comfort without a helmet as well.

        On top of all that, it packs into the stuff sack to become the size of a cucumber—making it easy to toss in a pack and bust it out when you need it.

        Great jacket

        • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: extra large
        • Height: 5'11"
        • Weight: 182lbs

        This jacket is ideal. I wear it a lot and when I'm not, I store it in the nylon pouch it came with. It is lightweight, comfortable and keeps me very dry in heavy rain. I've worn it in driving rain and I was completely dry. I do not miss pockets at all. Only having the chest pocket is enough. Less pockets makes the jacket lighter and look better on. The jacket weighs next to nothing and is easy to carry in its pouch wherever you go just in case you need it. I live in Maine and the weather can change without much warning. I ordered an extra large just to have room to layer. The extra large is roomy but not too big. A large would have been plenty big enough though. I'm completely satisfied.

        Arc'teryx - Men's Alpha SL Jacket - Magm

        Superlight, exceptionally packable GORE-TEX® with Paclite® product technology jacket created for climbers and alpinists needing emergency waterproof/breathable protection in sudden storms.

        Very satisfied

        • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: medium
        • Height: 5'10"
        • Weight: 140lbs

        After long thinking (very expensive....) I decided to pull the trigger. So far I've been in a couple of mountain bike rides and hiking (1 hr each) under good rain. No issues at all. I was wet everywhere but in my torso. I personally don't care it doesn't have side pockets. The one pocket it does have it's enough. I love the adjustment on the hood. you can customize the shape of it to your preference. I just wish it was less expensive. But i guess you get what you pay for.

        Great gift!

        • Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: L
        • Height: 6'0"
        • Weight: 175lbs

        I bought this jacket for my brother and this is what he said "I havent had to test it out in terrible weather conditions for days on end, but this jacket already beats the quality of any other jacket I've owned. Seams are fully taped and don't look like water is getting through anytime soon. I stood in the shower with a t-shirt underneath to see how wet it got, but after 5-10 minutes of constant simulated downpour, not a drop got on my t-shirt, and all i did was shake the jacket once and the water droplets slid right off leaving it nice and dry again. Such a nice feature when you're camping. Don't want to bring a wet jacket into the tent with you!

        Only disappointment:
        No side pockets. In fact the only pocket on it is the chest pocket (which conveniently is perfect shape for a full size topo map! So thats a positive) but i wish they would put pockets for your hands or to store snacks or whatever.

        Large fits great, im 6'0 175lbs Normal build.
        Also, jacket comes with a stuff sack probably 10"x6" which is nice too!"
        Look at the bottom of my review for my contact info. Feel free to email or call if you have any questions about my review or this product.

        Great gift!

        I Swear By It

        • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: Large
        • Height: 6'3"
        • Weight: 190lbs

        I thought finding a rain jacket that is light & breathable, durable, stylish, and well-priced was impossible. Normally you can get most of those things, but you have to sacrifice at least one––a jacket that is light & breathable, durable, and well-priced will probably look horrendous, etc.
        Then there's the Alpha SL.

        When I first got it in the mail, I had my doubts it would last very long: the zippers seemed flimsy and the material was very, very thin. After few months of day-to-day wear, and ten days of downright abuse in Thailand, I can say that it's the best rain jacket I've ever owned. It kept me dry and comfortable in those spontaneous downpours, and the sleek design and bright color got me compliments left and right.

        Still not convinced? Well, on a particularly soggy trek through the Thai jungle at 1:30am, I used it as an impromptu pack-cover (which put a lot of stress on the zippers). Fast forward to a few hours and A LOT of sharp undergrowth later, and not only is my expensive camera gear nice n' dry, the fabric and stitching around the zippers still look like new. Do not hesitate on purchasing this jacket, because in a decade, when this one bites the dust, I know I won't hesitate to buy another.

        Love Love Love This Jacket

        • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: Extra Large
        • Height: 6'
        • Weight: 250lbs

        I've had this jacket now for 2 years.

        I dont know what the guys up in Vancouver do when they design jackets, but they are perfect.

        I wear this jacket almost every day from Fall to Spring. I love it because I am a warm guy, I always have been. This jacket stops all wind. So the warmth your body maintains between your clothing and this jacket stay at an optimum level. This jacket is bombproof. Water does not get in. This jacket has a nice conservative style, which goes anywhere you want. The jacket has been cut in such a way that it matches your form, but doesn't restrict your movement. Its the gold bar quality of Arcteryx at a very reasonable price. I would buy this again without a guess.

        Great for Ice Climbing!

        • Familiarity: I've used it several times
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: Medium
        • Height: 5'9"
        • Weight: 136lbs

        So far this has been an excellent shell for ice climbing. Water rolls right off and I wasn't chilled to the bone by the wind blowing off of Lake Superior. The jacket never slipped out from under my harness thanks to the HemLock inserts and I had no issue pulling the hood over my helmet.

        For warmer days I will just wear this shell with a base layer and for the colder days I can easily fit a thicker fleece or a synthetic down jacket. So far I love this jacket and can't wait to use it on more trips to Munising, MI and up to Canada for some more waterfall ice climbing!

        Great for Ice Climbing!

        Top dog indeed

        • Familiarity: I've used it several times
        • Fit: True to size
        • Size Bought: Small
        • Height: 5'7"
        • Weight: 140lbs

        Looking for a rain shell to complement your kit and not willing to compromise on performance? You found it. I'm a big fan of the Paclite Goretex: light, waterproof, and packable. Granted, it feels a little less durable than a 3-layer fabric, but I haven't ripped mine yet. I also bought one for my brother, who is using it in England while he studies abroad. He says it's stylish and totally bomber. Arc'teryx really pays attention to fit and function, and it shows with this piece.

        Is this breathable enough for summer, or is it best used for colder months?

        Hey Jeremy - The Alpha SL is breathable enough for summer adventures in the mountains. It is made of the lightest and most packable Gore-Tex fabric out there (Gore-Tex Paclite) and is perfect to keep in the bottom of your summer pack at all times in case of a sudden turn in the weather. Feel free to contact me directly with any additional questions on Arc'teryx Jackets.

        - Kyle L. - Expert Gearhead

        Does anyone have any feedback as far as its breathability? I'm an alpine distance runner and have been looking for a minimalist shell that will keep me dry but I won't sweat like a dog inside of. Would love to hear someone's thoughts

        Goretex Active Shell fabric breaths much better than the paclite.

        The Alpha FL has it.

        The minimalist jackets work great for that "just in case" vs the "its going to pour" scenarios.

        I bounce between a OR Helium 2 and an Axiom. The Active shell keeps me dry when I know its going to get wet but still breaths enough to not get clamy. Hope that helps