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.
Arc'teryx Macai Review
Cons: Super expensive, too warm for some applications
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
— Jeremy Benson