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Arc'teryx Rush Review

This excellent, lightweight ski shell packs the high performance and features you need for a day in the backcountry
Arc'teryx Rush
Photo: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $750 List | $749.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Weather-proof, stylish, comfortable fit
Cons:  Expensive, crinkly fabric
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 3, 2020
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 15
  • Warmth - 20% 3
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 10
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 8
  • Ventilation - 15% 8
  • Style - 15% 10
  • Features - 10% 7

Our Verdict

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 much 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.

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Arc'teryx Rush
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   Editors' Choice Award 
Price $749.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Weather-proof, stylish, comfortable fitExcellent performance in every category, durableImpeccable quality, clean lines, very warm, excellent weather protectionVery warm, great weather resistance, high quality constructionCompletely weather resistant, good ventilation, freeride style
Cons Expensive, crinkly fabricMore snug fit than other optionsSuper expensive, too warm for some applicationsBoxy fit, unremarkable style, expensiveExpensive, too heavy and warm for most backcountry use
Bottom Line Our top choice for backcountry skiing in any weatherWe can't picture a better all-around jacket for skiingThis top-shelf manufacturer pulls no punches and creates a spectacular jacket in the processA warm and durable jacket with a high price tagWith weather resistance, style, and ventilation, this is the total package for a ski shell
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Rush Helly Hansen Alpha LifaLoft Arc'teryx Macai Patagonia Primo Puff Arc'teryx Sabre AR Jacket
Warmth (20%)
3
8
10
10
5
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
8
8
9
10
Comfort And Fit (20%)
8
10
9
7
8
Ventilation (15%)
8
8
6
7
8
Style (15%)
10
9
8
6
9
Features (10%)
7
10
6
8
7
Specs Arc'teryx Rush Helly Hansen Alpha... Arc'teryx Macai Patagonia Primo Puff Arc'teryx Sabre AR...
Main Fabric 3L Gore-Tex Pro 2-layer stretch polyester N40p-X Gore-Tex 2-layer, 4-oz 75-denier 100% recycled polyester N80p-X Gore-Tex
Insulation None LifaLoft synthetic Coreloft 100, Coreloft Compact, and 750 fill goose down PlumaFill synthetic Thin flannel backer
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 handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 1 chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 internal chest 2 hand, 1 chest, 2 interior 2 hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal
Weight (pounds) 1.30 lbs 2.56 lbs 2.64 lbs 2.54 lbs 1.66 lbs
Waterproofing Gore-Tex Helly Tech Professional 3L Gore-Tex Pro Shell Gore-Tex Gore-Tex
Hood Option? Yes Adjustable and removable Adjustabe and Removable Adjustable Adjustable
Pit-Zips? Open Mesh-backed Mesh-backed Open Open
Cuff construction Velcro Interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs Velcro Velcro Velcro
Powder skirt? Yes Yes Yes, removable Yes, removable Yes
RECCO? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

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 and sleek, yet bold, look into the backcountry style market.

Performance Comparison


Lead tester Jeff Dobronyi wearing the Rush while guiding backcountry...
Lead tester Jeff Dobronyi wearing the Rush while guiding backcountry skiing on a powder day in Jackson Hole.
Photo: sam willits

Warmth


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 base and mid-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 that we have reviewed.


Of course, every fabric we drape over ourselves will provide a small amount of warmth. This is because we naturally heat up any air that is trapped around our bodies, and this air then insulates 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 makes it ideal for high-output activities, like bootpacking to hidden resort powder stashes and skinning uphill in the backcountry, where breathability is much more important than warmth.

The Rush is a shell-only jacket, meaning the only insulation comes...
The Rush is a shell-only jacket, meaning the only insulation comes from a thin layer of hardshell fabric. The user is responsible for layering underneath.
Photo: sam willits

Weather Resistance


This 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 on the outside, where they belong. This jacket combines high-end materials with thoughtful design and a great cut to provide all of the protection you could wish for in 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 bottom of the jacket, which is adjustable in two places. We could not find a single weak point in the weather resistance of this jacket.

The Rush's Gore-Tex Pro fabric easily repels all liquid.
The Rush's Gore-Tex Pro fabric easily repels all liquid.
Photo: sam willits

Comfort and Fit


Arc'teryx is known for the quality of the design and cut of their jackets, and the Rush lives up to this reputation. The 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 also 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, which is that 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. This problem can't be solved without compromising on the shell fabric material or without 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.

The Rush fits easily and comfortably, remaining effective and...
The Rush fits easily and comfortably, remaining effective and athletic while not being too baggy or loose. We like it.
Photo: sam willits

Ventilation


Shell jackets are often used by advanced and expert skiers who tend 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 keep the vents open even when it is snowing heavily. This is a great design 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.

Long pit vents without any mesh backing give the Rush plenty of...
Long pit vents without any mesh backing give the Rush plenty of ventilation capability.
Photo: sam willits

Style


Style is subjective, but across the board, everyone we consulted likes the style of the Rush. The cut of the jacket is athletic without being too form-fitting, suggesting that the wearer is casually an expert skier. All of the color styles feature two colors, either shades of the same color or complementary colors. In all cases, we like the looks of this jacket.


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 depending on the color scheme, either match or complement the main panel colors. 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.

The Rush is a good-looking ski jacket, and we couldn't find anyone...
The Rush is a good-looking ski jacket, and we couldn't find anyone who didn't like its style.
Photo: sam willits

Features


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 that are 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 added on for small items like a smartphone, credit card, and car keys. There is also a sleeve pocket on the upper left arm, which is 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, but it matches up almost perfectly with other backcountry-specific jackets. As testers, we go back and forth about 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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


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. And while the jacket excels in nearly every category of our inquisition, the added performance is only worth the price for those who ski almost every day of the winter, or for those who want the best shell money can buy. Backcountry skiers who demand high performance and minimal weight may be more tolerant of the price tag, whereas resort skiers and those who only ski occasionally can spend a lot less and enjoy the sport just the same. Arc'teryx has a good warranty and repair program to protect your investment.

Conclusion


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 making the investment, 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 truly is "one shell to rule them all."

The Rush, at home in the backcountry, on top of another storm day...
The Rush, at home in the backcountry, on top of another storm day powder run.
Photo: sam willits

Jeff Dobronyi