The top 3 Arcteryx cold weather jackets?
- I'm well into the process of wearing them out
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: large in the Kappa and SV, XL in the SL (all seem to have a similar fit in those sizes)
Unusual review for me.
I was looking for the warmest jacket I could find with literally some of the best cold weather climbing jackets hanging in my gear room now. That included both the Arcteryx Kappa and a Fission SL. The list got one more this winter with the Fission SV. I ordered up new versions of each from BC. Tried them all on and kept the SV. The others went back...nothing new there from what I already had.
A life style new to me, but for the last 6 months I've been getting up just prior to dawn, rain, shine or snow to feed livestock for the last 6 months. One of the coldest winters on record here. Going on 60 days at or below freezing now. The Kappa, a trusted friend for winter climbing in the Alps and Canada wasn't warm enough most days early and late. The Fission SL, the "go to" hard core winter climbing coat, wasn't up to the task when the wind started blowing @ -25F any time of day. Mind you both of those Arcteryx jackets are really good cold weather pieces! But this is an honest comparison made by wearing all three day after day of multiple sub zero weeks this winter. The SV is slightly longer, sheds wind much better than the other two and because of both the length and wind resistance, it is noticeably warmer. The double chest pockets are handier if required. I now know why you see this jacket on a lot of full time ski instructors in the Rocky Mtn States. Not seen a warmer jacket that can take a real beating (day in and day out on the ski hill or in the barn) and still do the job just as well at the end of the Season as the beginning. If you really need a cold weather jacket the SV is worth the extra price compared to the Kappa for warmth IMO. Kappa is a taped Goretex product but not warrantied to be water "proof". Although feature to feature IMO the Kappa is a better buy if it is warm enough for you. And if you don't need fully taped and water proof Goretex. Never needed Goretex frankly other than rain gear but have found the water proof layer really nice when it has been needed here. Goretex was not something I bought the SV for however. And would now just for the extra protection. The Fission SL (fully water proof Goretex as well) is a great climbing jacket for warmth and weight. But I find it hard to justify the price when compared to the other two. For a climbing parka and really cold dry occasions (think of missing the Tram mid winter on the Midi) my impression is you can do better for warmth and weight (short of snow cave living) by going to one of the better down jackets intended for the same use. Still not a big fan of the SV's fashion styling ( still undecided if I like the collar/hood design or not). OK I'd will admit I wish the collar was higher". Glad all the SV jacket has a dbl zipper because when it is not really cold, the jacket is too long and too warm. When it is really cold and windy the length is perfect :) The SV is now the only COLD WEATHER jacket I have hanging in our mud room getting daily use. And it is THE jacket I grab when I want to be warm and protected from the weather/elements on foot, on a horse or on a exposed 4 wheeler. Given the choices in cold weather jackets I have available that is saying a lot. It is still not the jacket I would take climbing. It is too heavy and frankly not cut for climbing. Kappa and SL are both lighter and cut to easily climb technical ground in. But the Fission SV is the one jacket I wish I had when I really need a warm jacket. Simply because it is the warmest most weather resistant synthetic insulation I own.
I like the snap on the hem and zipper of all three jackets. Not a fan of the big toothed zipper used although it does work well but hard to get started sometimes. I have to take my time and be careful. Never a good situation when it required for a piece of my climbing kit. Cuffs are dialed! But also could be done better with just elastic like the Atom Series. Hoods as expected, are exceptional with or without a helmet. External pockets? Not so much thought there was my opinion. They work..enough said. Dbls always better than one for me. Internal pockets on all of them are awesome! All three are solid cold weather jackets. Kappa is the lightest least bulky, easiest to wear. The Fission SL is warmer, slightly bulkier, more wind proof "perhaps" and costs amore than dbl what you can buy a Kappa for. But it is water proof :) The Fission SV is longer, more weather proof and WARMER than either. It has a funky hood and collar design. Both are good, neither is perfect. SV does have double breast pockets....which I really like. Cost is more than a Kappa, and less than the SL. Best to find any of them on sale in late Spring or early Summer!