Having now worked at Arc’Teryx for the past couple weeks I’ve become familiarized with the jacket models and their respective variations. If you are looking for the most versatile, durable jacket that a city dweller who loves the outdoors might ever need, this is it.
The Alpha AR is a waterproof jacket made with the most breathable GoreTex out right now, GoreTex Pro. It features N40p-X on the body (nylon material that is treated with a water resistant solution) and burly N80p-X (just thicker material in areas that need it like the shoulders and cuffs, also treated) reinforcements.
The considerations I took for choosing this jacket are as follows: you are presumably looking for the last jacket you’ll ever buy. You hike, you bike, you walk, you keep telling yourself you’re going to do that big outdoor adventure that requires a little training and planning but you don’t know when that will happen. You’ve bought North Face and Columbia jackets and they work, but they’re bulky. Overtime they’ve stopped repelling water and in light rains they’re just too much jacket.
The Alpha AR is a shell, so layering is as easy as putting on a sweater if it’s cold or wearing a t-shirt underneath, knowing you’ll be bone dry in a downpour. Walking or biking to and from the office it’s perfect because it keeps you dry and breathes so you aren’t pitting out your dress shirt.
While not specifically designed for it, in a pinch the Alpha AR could go from the streets to the slopes because of the hits of abrasion resistant N80p-X it features. the lighter weight Alpha jackets (FL, SL) are much less versatile in that respect and a fast fall on ice or snow in either of them could ruin an otherwise perfectly good rain shell.
The runner up to the Alpha AR would be it’s lighter weight, less feature heavy cousin the Alpha FL (fast & light). Considerably less expensive ($399 vs $550), the FL features less pockets, is a hair less breathable and is less durable than the AR. It’s advantageous over the AR are it’s price and packability, which for some is ideal. If you know you won’t be needing a rugged jacket with as much versatility as the AR and don’t mind dealing with less pockets, the Alpha FL might be your “last jacket ever.”