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.