The Arc’teryx Alpha LT Jacket Review
I’m a big fan of Arc’teryx products. I recently reviewed my Arc’teryx Stingray pants, and my other favorite GoreTex piece is my Alpha LT jacket by Arc’teryx. I use it year round, it’s very comfortable, well made and robust. My favourite feature of this jacket is the little things that make it so ergonomic to wear. I use it for climbing, mountaineering, hiking and backcountry skiing.
Designed with Target Audience in Mind
Arc’teryx really thinks about the target audience and activity when designing their jackets. They separate their products into Alpha and Beta models and AR, SV and LT lines. *The LT line has been replaced with a SL – which stands for Super Light – line, which is even lighter and more packable but has similar features.
What is the difference between Alpha and Beta series jackets?
Arc’teryx organizes their jacket line by activity (climbing or skiing) and weight (light versus heavier). First, there is the Alpha and Beta line. What is the difference between the two?
The Alpha line features climbing and alpinism focused pieces: harness compatible length and waistline; chest pockets accessible while wearing a pack or harness; maximum articulation for overhead motions; helmet compatible hoods; drop hem; highest possible durability-to-weight ratio; emphasis on lightweight materials.
The Beta line is designed for all around mountain use garments, with features such as: moderate length; hand pockets; interior pockets; moderate articulation; room for layers; helmet compatible hoods; drop hem.
Alpha: made specifically for climbers
The Alpha LT is a light and durable GoreTex pro shell. This jacket is made for climbing and has an exceptional climber’s fit. It won’t ride up as you reach up high – which is very important for climbers who make this movement repeatedly, as opposed to skiing, where that movement it is more of an exception.
What is the difference between LT, SV and AR jackets?
The LT series are built with highly durable top performance materials but designed with a streamlined minimalist set of features to provide very light weight. This is an all around mountain jacket, and LT stands for light, and now it’s part of the SL line – super light.
The AR series provides high performance and weather protection and highlights a range of features to give all around versatility in multiple activities. The SV line is made for intense weather – think expedition to Antarctica. This is the most robust and heaviest performing hard shell, made for nasty weather and expedition weight.
- GoreTex Pro
This jacket is made from GoreTex Pro – a much more breathable version of GoreTex fabric. GoreTex Pro can be identified by a rip stop pattern on the inside of the fabric. It’s a very tough fabric that is about 30% more breathable than basic GoreTex fabric.
- Zippers and Vents
Long pit zips vent heat very effectively. These work very well when you get sweaty, and are great to have especially when it’s rainy, and you want to keep from getting too hot but also keep the rain out. Two front chest pockets have waterproof zips.
- Non bulky wrist closures
It has non bulky velcro wrist closures, which makes it easy to put longer winter gloves over top of the sleeve.
- Inserts prevent jacket from riding up
Flexible ‘hemlock’ inserts on the bottom of the jacket keep your jacket comfortably in place while wearing your harness. The inserts keep the jacket from riding up.
A laminated inside pocket is made with stretch fabric. All seams are laminated and lay flat. The cut is very precise for sport.
- Comfortable collar
On the top of the collar, the inside features a layer of fleece where the inside of the collar rests. This fleece chin guard is for comfort around your face – no abrasive or stiff gore-tex fabric on your face when fully zipped up.
Specially Designed “StormHood”
The storm hood is a very aggressive design designed to keep out the elements. This hood does a very good job of keeping the wind and elements away from your face in a storm.
The ultimate helmet-compatible hood – fits over a climbing or ski helmet with ease. It features a singe strap in the back of the head to adjust for a perfect, snug fit. This adjustment is glove-friendly – it’s easy to adjust on the fly even when you’re wearing gloves.
There is also another adjustment inside the hood which adjusts the fit of the hood around your face. The hood also has a brim which is great at blocking out moisture or wind.
- A climbing jacket
Did you know that their jackets are made either for climbing or skiing, depending on how the front pockets are oriented? This is designed specifically with skiers or climbers in mind.
My Alpha LT is designed for climbing: the front pockets are accessed from closer to the zipper – inward. In a ski jacket, the pockets will be accessed closer to the armpits – or outward.
The reason the pockets are oriented inward on the Alpha LT is to keep your balance while climbing.
Inward vs. Outward Pockets
On the Alpha LT the chest pockets are oriented inward as opposed to outward. So to get into your pockets, you would use your left hand to get into your right chest pocket and your right hand to get in to your left chest pocket. This is all designed very specifically for climbing, particularly alpine climbing!
How it works:
If you are climbing, you don’t need to upset your balance to get in your pockets. You can hold yourself on the wall with your right hand and use your left hand dig in your right hand pocket, and so on. This is much better than having to crane your arm out to reach into the same size pocket, where you are hanging your weight out to one side.
This also makes your pockets easily accessible while wearing a pack or harness.
Jackets made for skiing are designed differently. I own an Beta AT jacket and it has outward pockets. This allows the pockets to be bigger, which allows me to stuff larger items such as climbing skins into them. You can also stick your hands inside these pockets easier when you need to warm them.
- A perfect cut
I love the way my jacket is cut to fit so perfectly. When you put this jacket on, you’ll be surprised in how good it feels to have it on – you don’t even feel like you’re wearing a jacket due to it’s ergonomic, comfortable fit. You can move freely in this jacket. This jacket feels a great, natural movement, and even when the hood is done up, you get a great, unobstructed view and unrestricted freedom of movement.
Interested in Arc’teryx?
Latest posts by Alicja (see all)
- How to predict weather in the backcountry - July 4, 2017
- Why you should go kayaking in Gwaii Haanas National Park - October 13, 2017
- Ten things every backcountry skier or rider should know - December 7, 2017