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Arc'teryx Fission SL Jacket Review


Arc’Teryx Fission SL Jacket $750

Arc’Teryx approached its head designers and said, “Forget cost, just make the best jacket you can.” The result is the $700 Fission SL, which, despite costing as much as the 1996 Nissan Sentra I recently sold to a Mexican wearing a leather Mickey Mouse jacket, is worth every penny. The Fission SL is perhaps the most versatile jacket for the total mountain lifestyle.

The Fission SL’s biggest achievement is its marriage of a waterproof shell with insulation. The outer fabric is Pro Shell, the latest, lightest, most durable two-layer iteration of Gore-Tex. A proprietary non-quilted insulation called ThermaTek adds the “perfect” warmth to the Fission SL. This jacket is light enough to climb in, and warm enough stay comfortable when not moving at a cold belay. It’s not as warm as a down coat, and I wouldn’t call it a belay jacket—it’s really its own beast. The Fission SL’s applications include alpine climbing, backcountry skiing and, because it’s waterproof, taking the cold vertical shower called ice climbing.

Normally, I hate pit zips—but their presence in the Fission SL is the best application I’ve seen of this often more bothersome than useful feature. A fully insulated, helmet compatible hood, and fleece-lined hand pockets round out this one-stop, do-it-all sleek coat.

—Andrew Bisharat

Sizes: XS—XXL
Weight: 1 pound 5.6 ounces
Colors: Black, Aztec (shown)
Gore-Tex Pro Shell is waterproof, durable, light. ThermaTek insulation is warm, but not too warm.
Full-length water-tight front zipper. Two pit zips, two hand pockets, two internal storage pouches. Hood that fits over helmet.
Recommended uses: Everything from alpine climbing to skiing to ice climbing.

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