In an era where expensive brands come and go as quickly as a flash, It appears that Arc’teryx grows more popular each year. Tucked away in North Vancouver, Arc’teryx, that high-end brand with an unusual, fossil-inspired logo, has been a staple among outdoor enthusiasts for over two decades now.
If you’ve been wondering why Arc’teryx products are so pricey, you are definitely not alone. I’ve never hesitated to pay up for high-quality outdoor clothing and equipment, but shelling out over $700 for a rain shell seems a bit rough.
Yet, I can’t really say that Arc’teryx is overpriced. Let’s see what makes Arc’teryx a coveted high-end outdoor brand.
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Jeremy Guard and Dave Lane, passionate mountain climbers, founded the Rock Solid company in 1989. After Dave left the company in 1991, guard rebranded the company to Arc’teryx.
The name of the brand is inspired by the Archaeopteryx, a prehistoric bird. A reference to evolution, the name represents the brand’s focus on continuous product development and innovation.
In the beginning, Arc’teryx made only rock climbing gear. The company’s early flagship products were the Vapor harness and the Bora backpack. The brand eventually decided to combine its visionary designs with the high-performance Gore-Tex fabrics and venture into the outdoor clothing market.
Partly thanks to the partnership with Gore-Tex, Arc’teryx rose in popularity very quickly. Due to the quality of its products, Arc’teryx is one of the most raved about and most recommended brands among athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.
It’s no secret that every Arc’teryx product is extremely well-made, and that it can last for years. Long-lasting products generally come at a heftier price. A jacket that can last a decade will always be more expensive than a jacket that can barely survive one season.
But the longevity of Arc’teryx products isn’t the only thing that drives their price. Arc’teryx gear is designed to perform astonishingly as well as last long. The quality of the seam taping, reinforcements, and stitching is incredibly high.
There’s only a handful of outdoor brands out there that can really compare to Arc’teryx. The functionality and quality alone justify the price of Arc’teryx gear. In my opinion, the Alpha SV jacket is the perfect example of what the brand has to offer. If you are looking for a bombproof jacket that can handle the most grueling of conditions, this is it.
I had a chance to test out this jacket on a hiking trip last winter. It was wet and frigid the whole time. The jacket performed more than well. For days on end, it kept both wind and rain out. The average jacket would have lost its waterproofing after just a couple of days.
The Alpha SV is able to offer superior weather protection thanks to the robust 3L Gore-Tex pro fabric. To keep the weight down, the jacket uses RS sliders and WaterTight zippers instead of zipper garages.
The seams are taped with 8mm Gore tape, and the jacket also features Cohaesive hem adjuster. As a result, the jacket wears less than 17 ounces. On top of that, the shape and design of the Alpha SV emanate functionality and athleticism. The left bicep pocket and the two chest pockets offer plenty of room for your stuff, the WaterTight underarm zippers provide ample ventilation, and the slim, tailored cut makes the jacket perfect for hiking and climbing.
All in all, the Alpha SL is an extremely functional and durable jacket that can handle rain, snow, and wind with ease. Moreover, it comes with a lifetime guarantee. Is it expensive? Yes. But, if you take good care of it, you are essentially set for life.
Materials and Manufacturing
Materials are one of the main reasons Arc’teryx products are so special. Considering it’s a brand that offers a wide range of versatile products, it comes as no surprise that Arc’teryx uses a wide range of materials.
Arc’teryx only uses fabrics and insulation materials that are of the highest quality. One cannot emphasize this enough because premium materials cost a lot. To ensure high performance and durability, Arc’teryx sources materials from the most reputable suppliers. When it comes to material technology, Arc’teryx still relies on their old partner, Gore-Tex. No fabric can match the well-rounded weather protection of Gore-Tex’s proprietary membranes.
But Gore-Tex comes at a premium price. This is the exact reason why many brands are developing their own, proprietary waterproofing technologies. Arc’teryx also uses Polartec fleece. As it lasts long and doesn’t pill, it’s renowned as being one of the best fabrics available. The brand also uses ThermaTek and Coreloft synthetic insulations. When it comes to natural insulation, Arc’teryx uses high-quality 750-fill power down.
All of these materials considerably add to the overall price of Arc’teryx products. Arc’teryx has its own massive manufacturing facility in Vancouver, Canada. In the outdoor apparel industry, there are very few major brands that own their own manufacturing facilities. Moreover, Arc’teryx has created its own custom machinery. To ensure that the products turn out exactly the way Arc’teryx designers want them to, the brand employs engineers and scientists to create and modify the machinery in the factory.
So instead of changing the design of the product to accommodate the machinery inside the factory, the brand does exactly the opposite. As you can imagine, this is a labor, time, and cost-intensive process.
Fit and Design
But why does Arc’teryx bother to do all of this? Arc’teryx pays great attention to functionality. Only a few outdoor brands can match Arc’teryx when it comes to performance. And the performance of a jacket isn’t just how well it will breathe or withstand the elements, but also how it feels, fits, and wears.
As many outdoor enthusiasts prefer jackets with a clean cut, Arc’teryx’s minimalistic approach to style is a major selling point. As I mentioned, the design of Arc’teryx is well-thought-out. Arc’teryx streamlined garments are easy to layer with, feel comfortable, and allow for great freedom of movement. There is no unnecessary bulk that gets in the way. I am yet to come across an Arc’teryx that doesn’t have an excellent fit.
Product Life and Warranty
As I mentioned, Arc’teryx products are designed to last a long time. Arc’teryx backs up this claim with its impressive warranty and customer service policies. If something goes wrong, Arc’teryx will replace your jacket for free. In case you accidentally damage your Arc’teryx jacket, the company will repair it for a reasonable price.
One of my favorite things about Arc’teryx is that they will never leave you feeling helpless if something happens to your product. This is a major reason why Arc’teryx is so beloved by many outdoor enthusiasts. But making their customers happy isn’t the only reason why Arc’teryx strives to make products that will last long. By manufacturing products that won’t fail or get damaged so easily, Arc’teryx is making sure they won’t have to re-manufacture them or repair them often.
This reduces the overall environmental impact of the brand’s manufacturing process. It also brings me to my next point…
Generally, us outdoor enthusiasts care about the environment a lot. And this goes beyond just making sure not to leave any trash in the woods. We like to go with brands that are environmentally conscious. Brands that care about sustainability and environmental impact will go out of their way to source materials ethically, use recycled and recyclable materials, and to ensure that everyone in their supply chain is being paid a decent wage.
Arc’teryx is undoubtedly one of these brands. For instance, Arc’teryx only uses nylon, polyester, and other raw materials that are Bluesign materials. The Bluesign seal is a guarantee that the material is gentler in the environment, safe for humans, and free of harmful chemicals.
Moreover, the down used in Arc’teryx is sourced from humanely-treated birds. All the down Arc’teryx uses is RDS-certified. Considering that Arc’teryx is a brand that places great importance on sustainability and ethical means of production, it is no surprise that it’s a bit pricey.
Even though it is an outdoor gear brand, Arc’teryx has been swept into the churning fashion industry. Despite the fact that the brand makes technical outerwear, celebrities like Virgil Abloh, Drake, and Frank Ocean have all been spotted wearing Arc’teryx. The streetwear community is known to covet Arc’teryx bags, backpacks, and jackets. But Arc’teryx has stated that it doesn’t follow micro-trends, and that it’s not overly fashionable.
Instead of pivoting to address the streetwear world, the brand continues to focus on the quality, functionality, and reliability of its products. But I am quite positive that the brand’s new fan base is partly to blame for the ever-increasing price of Arc’teryx products.
Is Arc’teryx Worth It?
Arc’teryx is by no means a cheap brand. Of course, I’m not only talking about the price. It doesn’t cut corners when it comes to manufacturing, quality of materials, attention to detail, etc.
So, even though Arc’teryx products can go upwards of $700, the performance and the quality of the brand’s products match the price tag. I have no doubts that Arc’teryx is an outdoor brand worthy of its reputation.
But if you’d like to go with a more affordable brand, check out this Arc’Teryx vs Outdoor Research comparison.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.