The Arc'teryx Rush is a lightweight yet burly Gore-Tex shell jacket with just the right amount of features, quickly becoming our favorite to take backcountry skiing. The jacket is pretty bombproof, keeping out snow, wind, and rain with ease. It has a decent number of pockets, in addition to an adjustable hood and powder skirt, making it full-featured for backcountry skiing and still useful for inbounds laps. The cut is flawlessly contoured to an athletic body and allows for plenty of movement without feeling loose. And it looks great. All of this comes with a hefty price tag, but if you want the best backcountry skiing jacket that money can buy, this is it. But there are likely better options for those who mostly ski in-bounds.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Arc'teryx Rush on March 6, 2022, with a hot take on the value of this jacket and additional information about similar products that may better suit your needs.
Arc'teryx Rush Review
Cons: Expensive, crinkly fabric
Compare to Similar Products
Check Price at REI
|$330.00 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$599.00 at Amazon
|Check Price at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
$148.83 at REI
|Pros||Weather-proof, stylish, comfortable fit||Excellent performance in every category, durable||Completely weather resistant, good ventilation, freeride style||Strong value, highly versatile, warm, loaded with ski-friendly features||Weather resistant, good vents, plenty of features|
|Cons||Expensive, crinkly fabric||More snug fit than other options||Expensive, too heavy and warm for most backcountry use||Heavy, poor ventilation in combined figuration||Hanging liner makes it a bit warm for a shell, fit isn't perfect|
|Bottom Line||This excellent, lightweight ski shell packs the high performance and features you need for a day in the backcountry||This excellent resort ski jacket nails all performance aspects to deserve a spot at the top of your wish list||A durable, weatherproof jacket that wins our favor among downhill ski shells on the market||This versatile and reasonably priced jacket helps you customize your layers, whether you prioritize warmth, weather resistance, or both||A high-performance shell at a great price|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Rush||Helly Hansen Alpha...||Arc'teryx Sabre AR...||The North Face Ther...||REI Co-op First Cha...|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Rush||Helly Hansen Alpha...||Arc'teryx Sabre AR...||The North Face Ther...||REI Co-op First Cha...|
|Main Fabric||3L Gore-Tex Pro||2-layer stretch polyester||N80p-X Gore-Tex||100% nylon||2-layer Gore-Tex|
|Insulation||None||LifaLoft synthetic||Thin flannel backer||100% Post-Consumer Recycled Polyester||Recycled polyester lining|
|Pockets||2 zippered hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal zippered stash, 1 internal mesh dump||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 sleeve||2 hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal||Shell: 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest,1 internal media, 1 internal goggle, 1 internal zippered sleeve. Liner: 2 hand||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 sleeve|
|Weight||1.30 lbs||2.56 lbs||1.66 lbs||2.86 lbs||1.76 lbs|
|Water Resistance||Gore-Tex||Helly Tech Professional||Gore-Tex||DryVent 2L||Gore-Tex|
|Hood||Adjustable||Adjustable and removable||Adjustable||Adjustable||Adjustable|
|Pit-Zips||Open||Mesh-backed||Open||Yes (shell only)||Yes|
|Cuff construction||Velcro||Interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs||Velcro||Velcro||Velcro|
|Powder skirt?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, removable|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Across the board, the Rush scores highly in every way a shell jacket should. It is extremely weather-resistant, comfortable, fits supremely, and has enough features to get you through a day in the backcountry. It excels in style, pushing a modern, sleek, yet bold look into the backcountry style market.
Our metrics for ski jackets prioritize warmth, but shell jackets are not designed to provide any warmth. Rather, they are meant to be worn over a mixture of mid- and base layers that the user chooses to match current conditions. In an ideal world, the shell only provides weather protection and leaves warmth up to other garments. This is the case with the Arc'teryx Rush, which provides very little warmth. It is about as warm as the other shell-only jackets we have reviewed.
Of course, every fabric we drape over ourselves will provide a small amount of warmth. This is because we naturally heat any air trapped around our bodies, insulating us against the cold winter air outside our jackets. Different shells allow air to permeate, or "breath," through the shell fabric at different rates. In our experience, Gore-Tex Pro, which is used in the Rush, is moderately breathable, allowing the hot air around our bodies to escape through the jacket's fabric over time. This design makes it ideal for high-output activities, like boot packing to hidden resort powder stashes and skinning uphill in the backcountry, where breathability is much more important than warmth.
Weather resistance is one metric in which the Rush outperforms the rest of the competition. Shell jackets essentially have one job: to keep snow, rain, and wind outside, where they belong. This jacket combines high-end materials with thoughtful design and a great cut to provide all the protection you could wish for in a ski shell.
The jacket uses Gore-Tex Pro on the main shell fabric. Through our experience testing lots of winter jackets, we have come to learn that Gore-Tex Pro is an extremely weather-resistant shell material. From there, the jacket includes a fixed hood that provides full coverage for a ski helmet, and with three adjustment points, the hood can be sealed down tight over a helmet or a beanie. The jacket features entirely waterproof zippers, a high collar to protect the chin, a powder skirt to keep snow out from below on deep days, and long sleeves with burly velcro closures to seal over gloves. It also has a drawcord around the hem – or the bottom of the jacket – and is adjustable in two places. We could not find a single weak point in the weather resistance of this jacket.
Comfort and Fit
Arc'teryx is known for its quality of the design and the cut of its jackets, and the Rush lives up to this reputation. This jacket is cut in a way that perfectly fits the contours of an athletic upper body. The shoulders, torso, and hem strike the ideal balance between being too loose and baggy and too tight and restricting. The sleeves are long enough to fit over gauntlet gloves without slipping but aren't so long that they get in the way. We also appreciate that the jacket fits well no matter how many mid-layers we (reasonably) wear underneath.
This shell-only jacket suffers somewhat from the classic shell comfort problem: hardshell fabrics are often rough and crinkly. This jacket fits that mold, and even if you are wearing mid-layers underneath the shell, as we normally are when skiing, the stiff shell fabric feels slightly uncomfortable compared to the plush comfort of soft insulated jackets. Designers can't solve this problem without compromising on the shell fabric material or adding more weight in the form of a liner. So, we deal with the hardshell material and appreciate its weather-resistant properties. The Rush incorporates a small fleecy panel on the back of the zipper flap at the chin to provide a soft surface for the chin to rub against, which is a nice touch.
Advanced and expert skiers often use shell jackets to perform at a higher aerobic level than beginners. Most shell jackets offer us the ability to vent warm air from around our bodies to stay comfortable if we are wearing too warm of mid-layers or reaching our aerobic thresholds skiing bumps or hiking to ski fresh snow. In the backcountry, we often skin uphill in our shell if it is nuking snow, which is a warm proposition. Most shell jackets provide ventilation opportunities in the form of armpit vents.
The Arc'teryx Rush has longer-than-average armpit zips that allow us to dump heat when we need to, and the placement of these vents under the arms allows the user to keep the vents open even when it is snowing heavily. This design is great for backcountry skiing, when we often have to work hard while skinning or booting uphill, despite cold and snowy weather. The Gore-Tex Pro fabric is moderately breathable, and although there are more breathable "waterproof/breathable" fabrics on the market, none of them are as waterproof in our experience. In our opinion, the Rush strikes the ideal balance between weather resistance and ventilation.
Style is subjective, but everyone we consulted likes the Rush. The jacket's cut is athletic, suggesting that the wearer is casually an expert skier. All color styles feature two colors, either shades of the same color or complementary colors. The Rush features clean lines and sharp angles but keeps these highlights to a minimum to avoid a cluttered look.
The waterproof zippers are cleverly used as highlights and match or complement the main panel colors, depending on the color scheme. And of course, the Arc'teryx fossil logo features prominently on the chest, somehow remaining unpretentious, even though everyone knows how much that logo generally costs. We are big fans of the Rush style, and it feels good to look good on the slopes. This confidence might even help you ski better, some might say.
While other ski jackets have more features, the Arc'teryx Rush has a good set of pockets and other components that make it easy to use during the ski day. It has two large hand pockets positioned above the level of a backpack waist strap or harness waist belt, making them easy to access in any situation. The jacket lacks a chest pocket but has two internal mesh stash pockets for skins, gloves, or other large items, and one of these stash pockets has a small zippered pocket for small items like a smartphone or credit card and car keys. There is also a sleeve pocket on the upper left arm, useful for an RFID ski pass or a goggle wipe. Add in the powder skirt, and that's it for features.
Most of the resort-specific jackets that we looked at have more features than the Rush. Still, it matches up almost perfectly with other backcountry-specific jackets. As testers, we debate whether the powder skirt and pass pockets are worth the weight in a backcountry shell. They add a few grams that make diehard backcountry skiers fume, but they also add a lot of versatility for resort use, which is appreciated in a jacket this expensive. Most backcountry skiers still like to ride lifts for at least a morning on powder days before venturing out of the gates, waiting for the new snow to settle. For those users, these features are perfect.
Should You Buy the Rush?
While not cheap, the Arc'teryx Rush is a phenomenal lightweight ski shell, perfect for backcountry skiers and skiers who split their time between inbounds and sidecountry. The jacket provides excellent weather resistance, plenty of features, good ventilation and comes in a stylish and comfortable package. If you are on the fence about investing, and you are a hardcore backcountry skier who wants a burly and stylish shell for most days of the winter, go for it. Your investment will pay dividends as the shell lasts year after year and as you reach for it, even on resort days. This jacket truly is "one shell to rule them all."
What Other Ski Jackets Should You Consider?
We recognize that this shell jacket does not come cheap – indeed, one could buy a whole kit of ski apparel for the price of just this piece alone. Backcountry skiers who demand high performance and minimal weight may want to consider the more reasonably priced Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell. Whereas resort skiers and those who only ski occasionally should check out the REI Co-op First Chair GTX, or the more insulated The North Face ThermoBall ECO Snow Triclimate.
— Jeff Dobronyi
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More