Arc'teryx Women's Zeta LT Jacket | Review
The Canadian outdoor clothing perfectionist turn their attention to walkers with this immaculately-made women's waterproof hiking jacket.
'Beautifully made and sleekly cut, lightweight walking jacket using a soft-feeling, quiet fabric that works brilliantly - the Gucci outdoors experience commands a price premium however '
Outdoors Magic: Lovely, soft-feeling, quiet, fabric, beautifully made and cut, light and packable, single-pull hood.
Outdoors Tragic: Inverted pocket zips odd at first and sit low, hood didn't suit everyone's ears.
Outdoors Grabbit? It's beautifully made and cut using a lovely soft-feeling Gore-Tex fabric with something called C-KNIT technology and does a great lightweight all-round walking job albeit at a high-ish price. Check the hood adjuster suits your ear configuration though.
Women's-specific lightweight waterproof walking jacket / Gore-Tex fabric with C-KNIT backer technology / low profile Arc'teryx Storm hood with laminated brim / WaterTight main zip with storm-flap / adjustable cuffs hem and hood / drop tail hem / twin hand-pockets / single inner pocket / soft chin-guard
Full Review Below
Zeta LT Jacket - The Tech
The jacket uses Gore-Tex fabric, but it's a special premium version with something called a C-KNIT backer which improves comfort when things get sweaty. It's fully waterproof, but where it really scores is with a nice soft, quiet feel.
There's no crisp packet crackling or stiffness and that makes it really nice to wear. Equally impressive is Arc'teryx's ruthless attention to construction detail. The Canadian firm pioneered many of the high-tec construction methods used for mountaineering clothing and it shows.
'The fit was really good and the Gore-Tex C-KNIT fabric felt nice against the skin if you wore it, say, over a tee-shirt'
Stuff like very narrow seam-sealing tape, laminated zips and seams and general attention to detail give the jacket a hard to define jewel-like vibe that'll appeal to anyone who puts a premium on quality.
One unusual touch is the zip arrangement of the twin hand-pockets. The meticulously in-set, water-resistant zips are upside down compared to usual practice, so you pull them up to open. The idea is that they're more water-resistant in use without needing to add a 'zipper garage' at the top of the zip.
Zeta LT Jacket - Performance
The 'LT' in Zeta LT is short for 'lightweight' and at 290g for a medium, the jacket is decently light and packable, albeit not quite as minimal as something like the Rab Flashpoint - it weighs roughly the same as the Alpkit Balance.
Everyone who tried the jacket loved the cut. It's neat, tailored to fit a feminine body shape with no riding up over the hips on the move, and all-round flattering. Definitely not a crudely-modified men's jacket. It looks good on the hill, but not out of place in town either, which is a bit of a bonus.
'The hood, however, was spot on, no bagging, no vision issues, no fear of it blowing off. With the jacket main zip done up completely the neck gave good cover, and all was well. A great simple hood.'
Opinions were more divided on the hood. Alison loved the one-pull, single-adjuster simplicity, easy fit and decent peripheral vision - 'a little bit in a class of its own,' she said.
Other testers with different, er, 'head configuration' found the shock-cord adjuster sat right over their ears giving an uncomfortable, noisy experience. All we can suggest is that you try carefully before buying. If it suits you though, the hood is a cracker.
The other area of debate was over the inverted pocket zips. They open from top to bottom, which is the opposite of the norm and took some getting used to as a result. It's not so much that things fall out, more that you just end up pulling them the wrong way at first.
Also, for some users, the bottom of the zip opening sat under a rucksack waist belt, which meant the pockets were hard to use with a pack on. It all depends on the fit of the jacket to your torso though, so again it's something worth checking if you're going to buy a Zeta LT.
Otherwise, the jacket was flawless. It's light without feeling flimsy, packs away neatly into the side or lid pocket of a pack and happily keeps wind and rain at bay. It's not designed for helmet use, but Arc'teryx has other jackets for mountaineering.
Women's Zeta LT - Verdict
Put the scary price-tag to one side and the Zeta LT gives brilliant, Gucci-style lightweight weather protection for hill and mountain walkers and hikers, without looking like it's escaped from Everest Base Camp.
The Gore-Tex C-KNIT fabric doesn't have the snap, crackle and pop sound-effects of its mountaineering equivalents, making for a quieter day out. And the immaculate construction will appeal to perfectionists everywhere.
That said, it's not quite perfect. The hood is excellent unless it interferes with your ears and the upside-down pocket-zips weren't to everyone's taste. For that reason, we'd definitely suggest you try before buying.
Finally, the Gucci-style outdoors experience also comes with a not inconsiderable price-tag of £330. No-one's going to argue that's cheap for what's essentially a waterproof cagoule on steroids, but in terms of quality, there's not much out there that'll match it.