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Arc'teryx Macai Review

This top of the line ski jacket keeps you warm, dry, and comfortable, for a small fortune
Arc'teryx Macai
Photo: Arc'teryx
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Price:  $999 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Impeccable quality, clean lines, very warm, excellent weather protection
Cons:  Super expensive, too warm for some applications
Manufacturer:   Arcteryx
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 3, 2019
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Warmth - 20% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 9
  • Ventilation - 15% 6
  • Style - 15% 8
  • Features - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Arc'teryx is known for making some of the best outerwear available, and the Arc'teryx Macai does not disappoint. It is a wonderful ski jacket that looks good and is built to last. This jacket combines the unparalleled warmth of down insulation with the protection of a Gore-Tex shell. It comes up short for features and ventilation, but that probably won't deter those who are on the hunt for an extremely warm, waterproof, and well-styled piece from a high-end manufacturer.

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Arc'teryx Macai
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Price $999 List
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Pros Impeccable quality, clean lines, very warm, excellent weather protectionExcellent performance in every category, durableCompletely weather resistant, good ventilation, freeride styleMassive vents, good pocket layout, great weather resistanceWeather resistant, good vents, plenty of features
Cons Super expensive, too warm for some applicationsMore snug fit than other optionsExpensive, too heavy and warm for most backcountry useNo powder skirt, fabric wets out quicklyHanging liner makes it a bit warm for a shell, fit isn't perfect
Bottom Line This top of the line ski jacket keeps you warm, dry, and comfortable, for a small fortuneThis excellent resort ski jacket nails all performance aspects to deserve a spot at the top of your wish listA durable, weatherproof jacket that wins our favor among downhill ski shells on the marketThis shell jacket offers great weather protection and ventilation for a bargain priceA high-performance shell at a great price
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Macai Helly Hansen Alpha... Arc'teryx Sabre AR... Outdoor Research Sk... REI Co-op First Cha...
Warmth (20%)
10.0
8.0
5.0
3.0
4.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort And Fit (20%)
9.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Ventilation (15%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
7.0
Style (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Features (10%)
6.0
10.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
Specs Arc'teryx Macai Helly Hansen Alpha... Arc'teryx Sabre AR... Outdoor Research Sk... REI Co-op First Cha...
Main Fabric N40p-X Gore-Tex 2-layer stretch polyester N80p-X Gore-Tex 88% Nylon 12% Spandex 2-layer Gore-Tex
Insulation Coreloft 100, Coreloft Compact, and 750 fill goose down LifaLoft synthetic Thin flannel backer None Recycled polyester lining
Pockets 2 handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 1 chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 internal chest 2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 sleeve 2 hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal 2 Shove-It, 2 zippered chest, 1 internal media, 2 zippered hand 2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 sleeve
Weight (pounds) 2.64 lbs 2.56 lbs 1.66 lbs 1.72 lbs 1.76 lbs
Waterproofing 3L Gore-Tex Pro Shell Helly Tech Professional Gore-Tex AscentShell 3L Gore-Tex
Hood Option? Adjustabe and Removable Adjustable and removable Adjustable Adjustable Adjustable
Pit-Zips? Mesh-backed Mesh-backed Open Open, hem to bicep Yes
Cuff construction Velcro Interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs Velcro Velcro Velcro
Powder skirt? Yes, removable Yes Yes No Yes, removable
RECCO? Yes Yes Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

This down jacket is very warm and weather resistant, but somewhat lacking in features. For those who need a warm jacket for the harshest winters and can afford the high price tag, the Macai is appropriate.

Performance Comparison


Early season pow in the Macai.
Early season pow in the Macai.
Photo: tom causley

Warmth


The Macai is one of the warmest ski jackets we have ever tested. It is the only jacket in our review to use down insulation, which is packed into the areas of the body that need it the most, like the torso. In areas that are more susceptible to water or sweat, the jacket uses synthetic insulation, which maintains its warming capabilities when wet. The result is an extremely warm ski jacket fit for the coldest days of winter.

Such warmth may be needed by skiers who run cold, or those who live and ski in the coldest areas of North America. If you ski in a warmer environment like Lake Tahoe, this jacket will be too warm for most days.

Lots of down and synthetic insulation make the Macai one of the...
Lots of down and synthetic insulation make the Macai one of the warmest we have reviewed.
Photo: tom causley

Weather Resistance


The outer shell of the Macai is made with Gore-Tex Pro Shell, which we found to be waterproof to the extreme. It is thicker than other hardshell materials, which helps it cut through the wind as well. Arc'teryx has a great DWR coating, which keeps water running off the jacket and prevents it from soaking the outer fabric. All seams are sealed, and all zippers are waterproof, which we have come to expect from this manufacturer.

There is a powder skirt, a well-fitting hood that easily covers a helmeted head, and a high collar for cold chairlift rides. Still, the Macai is vulnerable to liquid water because of the down insulation components, which lose their loft when wet. People who ski in wet climates know that water gets everywhere, and some water penetration is inevitable. That will only happen to the Macai in extremely wet scenarios.

Arc'teryx has their waterproof fabrics and DWR dialed. After several...
Arc'teryx has their waterproof fabrics and DWR dialed. After several minutes of dousing in the shower, the water still beads off the Macai like water off a duck's back.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Fit and Comfort


The Macai is sleek and well-fitting, but it isn't too tight either. It is more tailored than boxy, compared to other options in the review, but there are still better fitting jackets. The sleeves and hem are both great lengths, and we didn't feel any restrictions through our range of motion tests. Fit and comfort go hand in hand, and the Macai's down insulation is very comfortable against the body. The inner fabric is soft and gentle as well. There is a soft fleece patch where the chin brushes against the shell.

The cut of the Macai is perfect... not too tight, not too loose, and...
The cut of the Macai is perfect... not too tight, not too loose, and very comfortable.
Photo: Heather Benson

Ventilation


Ventilation is not this jacket's strong suit, and in the frigid conditions that it is built for, ventilation probably won't be your highest priority. That said, since the jacket is so warm, you might find yourself needing to dump some heat on occasion. When you do, long armpit vents with mesh backing will get the job done. We wish the vents didn't have any mesh, which inhibits airflow. During testing, we often had to unzip the main front zipper to get the ventilation we needed.

The pit zips of the Macai are mid length, and mesh-covered. They...
The pit zips of the Macai are mid length, and mesh-covered. They could be longer and mesh-free for more venting power.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Style


The style of this jacket is neutral, yet classy and refined. We would expect nothing less at such a high price point. The Macai has clean lines, zippers that blend in with the fabric, and no fabric flaps that get in the way of a sleek look. This is a well-styled jacket, among the best looking that we have tested. The muted color options help you blend in with the crowd, but the Arc'teryx logo will help you stand out. We do wish that the Macai came in some brighter color options.

The style of the Macai is neutral, yet refined and classy. We like it.
The style of the Macai is neutral, yet refined and classy. We like it.
Photo: tom causley

Ski Features


The Macai has enough features to make a day on the slopes easy to deal with. Both the hood and the powder skirt are removable, adding versatility and customization to the design. It also features a sleeve pass pocket, a goggle wipe, and a RECCO reflector. There is one external chest pocket that is hidden underneath the Arc'teryx logo, and we found that it was extremely difficult to access while wearing ski gloves. As a result, we didn't end up using it very often.

The external chest pocket is hard to use with gloves on because of...
The external chest pocket is hard to use with gloves on because of the horizontal flap, zipper, and awkward button.
Photo: tom causley

Value


This is one of the most expensive jackets we have ever reviewed, but we also know that the bomber construction, mostly down insulation, and Arc'teryx warranty all ensure this jacket a long lifetime. In terms of dollars per year, we think this jacket will cost just a little more than other less expensive jackets that won't last as long. That little extra cost per year also gets you an extremely warm, weather resistant, and comfortable jacket. If you can make the investment, we think it will pay off in the long run, making this jacket a decent value.

Conclusion


The Macai is a tremendously warm, comfortable, and weather resistant jacket. If you ski in a cold climate, this jacket is the warmest in our review. The high price tag will deter anyone who can get away with less.

The Macai is a warm and sleek jacket for all skiing conditions.
The Macai is a warm and sleek jacket for all skiing conditions.
Photo: tom causley

Jeremy Benson