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Waterproof Jackets

Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody | Review

Waterproof, insulated, and pretty good looking as well if you ask us. Here’s why the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated has us impressed

Why We Chose It: Innovative, superlight, versatile.

If you’re not keen on black jackets, tough luck, because there’s no alternative here. Don’t go thinking Arc’teryx are being all stingy here though, if they could give you other colourways, they would. The thing is, the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody uses Gore-Tex’s Shakedry fabric, and at the moment this stuff can’t be dyed.

Whether you like black or not, it should be easy to look past this, because what we have with Shakedry is one seriously impressive fabric. Basically, it does away with that outer fabric normal waterproof jackets use – that one that eventually ‘wets out’ after persistent rain or when the DWR wears out – so that the actual membrane is on the outside of the jacket. The benefit of this, is that it means that rain will always bead off, maintaining breathability and allowing the jacket to dry very quickly. The downside, is that there’s not much durability, and you’re going to be at risk of damaging the jacket if you’re pushing through branches or even wearing a backpack with niggly straps or a heavy load.

“And it is breathable. Really breathable. Much more breathable than most of the other waterproof jackets I’ve tested, let alone ones with insulation in them.”

Anyway, this ShakeDry fabric has already been used in a number of products from different brands, including 2016’s minimalist rain jacket from Arc’teryx, the Norvan SL. Now what Arc’teryx have done is add a bit of insulation to it.

It’s filled with CoreLoft Compact fibres, a synthetic insulation that’s very similar to PrimaLoft, offering a good warmth-to-weight ratio, a lofty, cosy feel and thermal performance even in wet conditions. And to keep the overall weight of the jacket down (in case you hadn’t already guessed, SL stands for super light), it’s been cleverly mapped across the body, with the insulation used where it’s needed most and omitted where it’s not really required. More specifically, it’s used everywhere apart from the lower back, the elbows and the armpits.

The clean fitting hood is elasticated, with a wired peak. Photo: Chris Johnson
The jacket is filled with CoreLoft Compact fibres, similar to that of PrimaLoft. Photo: Chris Johnson
Gore-Tex Shakedry does away with the use of an outer face fabric found on traditional waterproof jackets. Photo: Chris Johnson

As for the other features, there are simple elastic cuffs, an elastic hem as well – which is cut quite short by the way – then there’s a roll away hood with a slight peak.

At 270g for a men’s jacket and 235g for a women’s, this is a very lightweight offering, one that’s aimed primarily at mountain runners who’ll run through anything – whether that be rain, cold weather or both. It’s also great for keeping in your backpack or bumbag as a ‘just-in-case’ option, because it’s so, so packable. Stuff it up into the little sack that comes in the internal chest pocket and it’ll fit into the palm of your hand. Nifty.

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, Outdoors Magic Editor

“I could see myself getting year-round use from this. This is the jacket that makes getting out of the door on those miserable winter evenings much, much easier. I’d run all winter in it and in the summer, as well as using it for cold mountain runs, I’d also carry it in my backpack while hiking to whip out on a windy summit, or I’d clip it to my belt on lighter hikes without a bag.

“We all love observing the beading ability of a brand new jacket, but it doesn’t last forever, right? With this, that disappointing moment when the jacket just suddenly throws in the towel and gets saturated… it never happens. Glorious.

“And it is breathable. Really breathable. Much more breathable than most of the other waterproof jackets I’ve tested, let alone ones with insulation in them.

“OK, it might be simple in it’s design and features, but as an option for mountain running where you need lightweight protection, you’d expect it to be. I’m sold.”

Black is the only choice here. ShakeDry isn’t able to be dyed. Photo: Chris Johnson

Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody

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