Arc'teryx 2016 New Gear Preview
The big news from Arc'teryx at OutDoor was the launch of the brand's first full-on mountaineering boot for spring 2016, the Acrux AR GTX Alpine Boot, a radical double-boot design that has similar external dimensions and weight to a conventional boot, but the insulation and fast-drying properties of a double one.
Alongside that, there were also further developments to the hiking and approach footwear range first launched this spring, plus a zoned, compact, lightweight insulated jacket designed specifically for summer use.
First Full-on Mountaineering Boot
No question that the star of the Arc'teryx show was the new Acrux AR GTX Alpine Boot. We were talked through the fundamentals of the new boot by top product manager Jon Rockefeller. Superficially it looks similar to something like the Scarpa Phantom range thanks to the integral gaiter, but there's a lot more going on under the surface.
The problem with the sort of lightweight, single-layer insulted alpine boots that are commonly used currently is that while they're great for single days out, they often dry slowly meaning that on multi-day trips they can become damp and cold, particularly if you're camping.
Double plastic boots with a removable foam inner boot, on the other hand, are warm and easy to dry overnight, but also tend to be bulky and heavy. Not ideal on technical terrain.
Best Of Both Worlds?
The idea of the new Acrux AR is that it has the warmth and fast-drying properties of a double plastic boot, but with the same sort of size and volume a single boot.
The inner liner boot has its roots in last year's Acrux and Bora approach shoes and mids. It's made from perforated PE foam with a Gore-Tex liner. The materials are hydrophobic so it dries fast and the lower section uses 4mm PE foam for added insulation. The sole is rubberised for hut use as well. Neat stuff. As with the shoes, the stretchy foam moulds to your foot to give what Arc'teryx calls 'adaptive fit'.
Over the top of that goes a PE Inner-shell made from 4mm PE foam for added warmth - again it's hydrophobic and dries fast. The lower part uses conventional laces, while the cuff is Velcro fastened. That, if you've used high-cut mountaineering boots, is genius.
Loosen off the Velcro in seconds to give shin comfort and ankle mobility during walk-ins, but snug it all up for heel hold once you're on steeper ground. No messing about with laces and cold fingers or compromised betwixt and between tightness.
On top of that is the outer gaiter made from a 0.6mm TPU film laminated to another layer of Gore-Tex fabric and secured by a T-ZIP WaterTight front zipper to keep snow and rain at bay.
Underfoot there's a fully-injected EVA injected midsole to save weight, but with a PU protective wrap to prevent abrasion damage and a carbon fibre stiffener for full length rigidity. The outsole is Vibram with a blocked-out climbing zone up front and finally, the gaiter outer has a lightweight protective 0.6mm TPU protective film to resist crampon and abrasion damage.
Claimed total weight is just 940g per boot for a size 42 / 8.5, which is comparable with a lightweight conventional alpine boot.
It's an impressive bit of engineering and very 'Arc'teryx'. Jon reckons that the boot should be suitable for use at attitudes up to around 4-5000m depending on conditions and at temperatures down to around -20˚C, but more modestly, we couldn't help thinking that they'd be ideal for multi-day Scottish winter mountaineering jaunts as well as more alpine challenges.
The Acrux AR GTX Alpine Boot is due out in spring 2015 - in real world time that usually means around February, so maybe in time for the latter stages of Scottish winter - and will retail for £500 in the UK or around €600 on the continent. Available in a men's version only though all the other footwear in the range comes in both men's and women's versions.
Other Arc'teryx Footwear
Although the big story is that alpine boot, Arc'teryx has also introduced some new models to its hiking and approach range first seen earlier this year.
For starters there's a new, and more conventional-looking leather version of the Bora Mid hiking boot. It's called the Bora Mid LTR and combines the existing removable Gore-Tex liner with a new outer boot made from 1.6-18mm Nubuck leather.
Looks great, though there's a slight weight penalty of around 50g per boot and could appeal to walkers who were put off by the unconventional look of the original Bora models.
Also new is the Acrux SL shoe - 'SL' tends to stand for 'Super Light' in Arc'teryx terms - a lightened-up take on the Acrux shoe designed with an air-permeable, non-waterproof liner for summer use. It weighs in at 300g in an 8.5, around 110g per foot lighter than an original Acrux.
Finally there's an even lighter new model, the Arakys, toted as - quote - 'the first ultralight bouldering and singe pitch approach shoe designed for both indoor and outdoor climbers'.
It's a neat-looking thing with an unusual single-hand adjustable webbing strap closure, a climbing-orientated sticky rubber Vibram sole and a laminated upper with lightweight TPU protection.
One neat touch is that when you're off the rock, the collapsible heel means you can convert the shoe into a comfortable pares-climbing slipper. Inside there's a leather footbed for summer comfort.
Interesting, sort of halfway to being a rockshoe we guess, but potentially a lot more comfortable for day-long use.
Arc'teryx Atom SL - Lightweight Summer Insulation
Last but not least, Arc'teryx has a new SL - Super Light - take on its Atom synthetic insulated jackets. Like the existing LT it's zoned with lightweight polyester fleece stretch side panels, but with Coreloft Compact synthetic insulation on the front and back of the trunk.
The sleeves are lined with a light mesh and more of that soft, stretch fabric to make it comfortable 'next to skin' so you can layer it over a tee-short or vest even without it feeling clammy. The main outer fabric is as used on the LT version and, says Arc'teryx, very air permeable but still wind resistant.
No Slip Zippage
One other neat touch, the zip is a new 'No Slip Zip' model that for the first 15cm features a mutant non-slip tooth every 12th one. The idea is that the zip won't work its way open in use and you can feel the resistance easily as you unzip the jacket. Marginal gain? Maybe. but a handy one.
There are hand pockets too and a hood without any insulation. It all packs down neatly to around the size of a 1-litre pop bottle and has a claimed weight of 285g in the men's version and 250g in the women's so perfect for stash and forget until needed action.
Should be good for all-round cool summer use, but also potentially as a mid-layer option in cooler conditions. Available in spring 2016 with a UK price of £170. We actually have a very early sample to have a play with right now, so watch out for some initial feedback in the next few weeks.
All the above available in spring 2016, more on the current Arc'eryx range at www.arcteryx.com