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Arc’teryx Alpha SL Anorak review: a comfortable and form-fitting jacket

It’s hard to beat the waterproof Arc’teryx Alpha SL Anorak when it comes to climbing and cragging

Arc’teryx Alpha SL Anorak
(Image: © Arcteryx)

Our Verdict

With a form-fitting but not overly trim cut, the Arcteryx Alpha SL Anorak is a jacket made for moving around and being adventurous in.

For

  • Super-tough fabric
  • Easy to get on
  • Warm
  • Easy to move in

Against

  • Only one pocket
  • Expensive

First impressions

A superlight Gore-Tex shell made with ultra-durable face fabric, the Arc'teryx Alpha SL Anorak is a climbing- and alpine- focused anorak also has a great eco story. By adding pigment at the polymer level instead of dyeing the final garment, Arc’teryx saves water, reduces CO2 emissions, and increases the jacket’s colorfastness.

The SL Anorak’s gridded, hardened face fabric is engineered with a liquid crystal polymer ripstop for waterproof, windproof, breathable protection in an ultralight package. Arc’teryx says that the fabric delivers abrasion resistance that rivals fabrics twice its weight. The jacket’s hood is helmet-compatible, and it adjusts with a back toggle for superior peripheral vision. The single chest pocket and the deep front zip are both water-repelling.

Specifications

Price: $375 (US) / £350 (UK)
Sizes: XS–XL
Weight: 180g / 6.3oz
Waterproofing Technology: Gore-Tex
Colors: Dark Immersion / Dynasty

In the field

The ease of getting into and out of this anorak made it an instant favorite, as did the long cut  which covered my butt without feeling confining – and the jacket’s super lightweight toughness.

Narrow Velcro tabs at the wrists let me cinch them down to keep out weather and let me draw back the sleeves. Without the tabs tightened, the long-cut sleeves extended to my knuckles. This jacket is made for movement. When I lifted my arms overhead, it didn’t ride up. There’s only one pocket, a chest pocket. So, if you are well-endowed don’t expect to store a lot in there. But the pocket was big enough to hold an iPhone 11 Max. Zipped, the jacket came up to my nose. And while it’s extremely light, this jacket is made from fabric that feels protective and like it will stand up to scraping against a rock or wiggling through dense trees.

It was warmer than lighter jackets and felt more protective in bad weather. While I sometimes feel like I overheat in anoraks, the long chest zip on this jacket gave me all the venting I needed when I got too warm.