The Men's Theta SL Jacket by Arcteryx is combining two great waterproof/breathable textiles, this streamlined Gore-TexPaclite jacket features Gore-Tex Pro Shell reinforcement in the shoulders and arms. The handy Stow Hood and below-hip length offer maximum coverage and a short list of critical features keep this jacket light and packable. Details include trim fitting gender specific patterns for comfort and performance.
|Arc'teryx Theta AR Jacket||$368.04 - $575.00|
|Arc'teryx Gamma SL Hybrid Jacket||$147.99 - $268.95|
|Arc'teryx Alpha SL Hybrid Jacket||$174.99 - $349.95|
Ill preface this review with my cut and paste statement that I work as a backcountry backpacking guide in Yosemite National Park. Nearly all of the products I take the time to review have seen at least a half a season, if not more, of use... and Im committed to not bothering to write a review until I feel like Ive really gotten to know a product. I never thought Id bother to write reviews, but Ive recently decided that since Ive spent so much time over these last many years reading reviews, and finding a tremendous amount of value in articulate and well-informed opinions, that I wanted to give back to the community. So, with that being said, here we go...
I picked up this hard shell for under half price. I was so stoked about getting it for such a steal that I didn't do as much research as I normally do, particularly seeing that its a pricey piece of gear.
For those who aren't familiar with Arcteryx's arbitrary system for naming their gear.. there are a few things that are good to know. Beta = waist length, to accommodate a harness. Alpha = hip length, to provide more coverage while striking a balance between fit and weatherability. Theta = thigh length, to provide the most coverage for heavy weather, and not needing to deal with a harness. LT = Light, SL = Superlight, SV = Severe (weather), AR = All-Round (multiple uses and applications). There are other prefixes, but those are the only ones that really apply to the Alpha, Beta, Theta line. There are cut and fit differences from jacket to jacket, but I'm not going to get too in depth with that here, since this review is, after all, specifically about the Theta SL.
The SV and LT line consist of shells made of GoreTex (GTX) Pro, which, without digging deep into minutiae, is a very durable double-layered waterproof fabric that has a third layer of backing on the inner side. This backing helps with both durability and wicking moisture away from one's body. The downside is that its heavier and more expensive than GoreTex Paclite. GTX Paclite, which is used in the SL lines, uses a similiar combination of two waterproof laminates, but does not use the backing on the inner side. The inner side of Paclite is a very slick, carbon backing that, when wet, gets a bit clammy. The advantage is that its lighter and cheaper than GTX Pro, the downside is that its less durable, and does nothing to wick moisture away from your body when any form of moisture builds up inside the shell. I've never had durability issues with Paclite, but you do have to be more mindful of prolonged abrasion and any sneaky twigs, branches, or talus that might be poised to puncture it.
This jacket uses a hybrid of these two fabrics, which is not only an ingenious compromise, but in practice it works incredibly well. The upper quarter of the jacket (the collar, the shoulders, upper back, and the upper chest) and the entire outer portion of the sleeve are made of GTX Pro, while the rest of the jacket consists of Paclite. The end result is that you have a jacket that finds a nice middle ground in cost, weight, and durability... providing abrasion resistance and durability in areas likely to see more use/abuse... and saving weight and cost in areas that are likely to see less wear.
All of these features combined - the hybrid of both types of GoreTex, the longer cut, the reinforced shoulders, the fantastic packability and low weight... along with the stowable hood, pit zips, and athletic cut all add up to a jacket that is absolutely custom made for backpacking. I've owned, and still own, quite a few shells... and I feel quite comfortable in saying that this is the quintessential backpacking hard shell.
There is no other hard shell that I'd rather have in my pack when I see the weather, and barometer, taking a dive.
PS. As a note on fit... I am 6'2" and approximately 165 lbs. I wear a 40 long in sport coats... and this jacket in a large fits me perfectly.
I bought this as my main go to shell for all four seasons. I was looking for a jacket that would be versatile, lightweight and durable. It is a replacement for an old Patagonia Pac lite shell that lasted me almost ten years. So after a couple days of wearing it skiing here in northwest Washington I have only one complaint. The temps have ranged from high twenties to mid thirties. I layered it with an REI synthetic base layer and the Atom Lt Hoody. The jacket did an excellent job of blocking, wind, snow/ sleet and was very comfortable. The only complaint I have with it is that it doesnt vent that well. At lunch and at the end of the day there was a significant amount of condensation on the inside of the jacket, which also caused my Atom Lt to feel a big soggy. I will say that the condensation is primarily only where the PacLite fabric is on the body. The areas with ProShell were dry. This also has me concerned about wearing it on spring or summer days since we get quite a bit of rain. So ultimately thinking of returning it and purchasing a different Arcteryx with full Pro Shell
Great addition to my collection of Arc'teryx clothing!
Awesome jacket during rain and wind condition.
The jacket looks great and fits great however when exposed to the elements for extended periods (2-3 hours) it gets very wet inside. I expected more for the price.
The Theta SL is a very light shell with some nicely thought out features. The cut and articulation of the shell is great. It is longer in the torso and has about a 2" drop in the rear. nice high volume pockets that work well while wearing a pack. The pit zips are smallish but do a great job of allowing heat and moisture to escape. The hood is a low volume hood. it fits over helmets but it can be a bit snug over some helmets. It cinches up nicely so it does not bellow in the wind. I am not a fan of the roll hood. I would have preferred a 1 piece style hood. The medium fits my 5'10" 165lb frame very well without being too big in the chest (It fits much slimmer than my Theta AR). Arms are a good length for those of us who have monkey style arms.
I am not fully sold on the mix of paclite and Pro shell. Paclite doesn't breathe that well and I have found it just feels wet inside (and I have had my clothes get wet as well) The gore tex pro shell holds up very well and breathes so much better. for $375 its a pretty expensive paclite shell. At this price point I would expect arcteryx to use the watertight front vislon zip (much smoother slider). Overall its a great shell however, for just a little more I can buy a pro shell jacket from some other manufacturers (ie: north face point five) So for the hefty price tag it gets a 3 star rating