Arc'teryx Camosun Parka Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Durable, clean looking, warm, weather resistant
Cons: “Crinkly” shell fabric
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Camosun Parka uses a combination of high-quality 750-fill-power goose down throughout the torso and CoreLoft synthetic insulation in areas of high exposure to moisture such as the hood and shoulders. Weighing 35.8 ounces, it is lighter than many of the other casual parkas in this review, though decidedly heavier than the technical parkas. The Camosun was our top-scoring winter jacket, earning our coveted Editors' Choice award.
Arc'teryx uses their trademarked Down Contour Construction and Down Composite Mapping technologies to place quality, high fill-power down and synthetic insulation in key areas around the body. The result is a jacket that is quite warm without the bulk typically associated with warm, insulated parkas. The arms and underarm areas have much less insulation than the body, with the majority of the down located around the core using sewn-through baffles underneath the outer shell.
The removable hood cinches tight around the face to add warmth and stretch knit wrist gaskets hidden behind a longer open cuff prevent drafty winds from stealing heat. The Camosun has a medium length fit, covering most of the upper thigh, giving it some of the added warmth and protection of a traditional trench coat. Though plenty warm for most low latitude winters, it is not nearly as warm as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, though it is much more usable across a broader range of settings.
This jacket uses a two-layer Gore-Tex Paclite shell as well as Arc'teryx's Nu DWR treatment, and it sheds rain and snow with ease. We wore this jacket on stormy days at the ski hill and autumn touring in Yellowstone National Park and had no issues with the fabric wetting through despite prolonged exposure to wet and sloppy snow. Fully taped seams, typical of this manufacturer's high-quality construction (and required by the Gore-Tex licensing agreement), keep wetness from finding its way in through the shell.
A vital component of this jacket's resistance to nasty weather conditions lies in its use of synthetic insulation in areas of moisture exposure like the hood, shoulders, and underarms. When sweat from hard work or moisture from the inundation of the outer shell gets into a down baffle, moisture can spread quickly, significantly reducing its effectiveness as an insulating material. Putting synthetic insulation in those areas instead is an ingenious way of using the best properties of both materials. This feature sets this jacket apart from its closest competitors.
While the front zipper is water-resistant, the hand pocket zippers are not, and the storm flaps covering them are on the underside. This makes sliding your hands into the fleecy pockets easier. However, it gives rain a chance to make its way into your pocket if you aren't careful to keep them zipped up. By keeping any non-waterproofed materials, like the wrist cuffs hidden underneath the outer shell, this jacket is more impervious to wet conditions.
With an anatomical construction that allows for unencumbered movement and no-lift gusseted underarms, the Camosun Parka is comfortable to move in, despite being packed full of warm down and synthetic insulation. The stretch-knit gaskets inside the cuff are also soft and flexible, providing a good seal without feeling too snug, and soft fleece lines the collar and pockets.
The shell material of the Camosun is highly weather-resistant, but the scratchy and "loud" texture bothered some. For this reason, we slightly downgraded the overall comfort score of the Camosun. Try it out, as only some of our testers found this to be a problem. All of the highly weather-resistant jackets in our test have stiff shell fabrics that compromise comfort. The most comfortable jackets have softer shell fabrics that are at least slightly more vulnerable to the weather.
The features that make this jacket so appealing are largely invisible, hidden underneath the shell. It has mapped insulation, small taped seams, and ergonomic tailoring to give the wearer a comfortable experience without adding bulk or constriction of movement.
There are only two hand pockets and one internal zippered pocket. This keeps the exterior clean and straightforward, but adding at least one more internal pocket or an external chest pocket would give a lot more options. It is worth noting that the handwarmer pockets are insulated front and back. Most jackets in our test put the handwarmer pockets outside the insulation. A few good jackets put the hand warmers between insulation and the wearer's body. Both sides of the handwarmer pockets are insulated for maximum effect. The cut is long enough that we would prefer seeing a double zipper, as the front tended to bunch up while sitting, especially on reviewers with shorter torsos.
The hood is removable with large snaps and has adjustable cinches and a laminated brim to keep precipitation off the face. We liked the hood but found in the first version we used that it comes unattached far too easily when picking up the jacket by the hood or hanging it from a coat rack. The second and third iterations we tested, in the early winter of 2016 and 2017, had far more robust snaps. It is not clear if this was an in-line change in the product or a function of manufacturing differences. Either way, the hood snaps worked better the second time around.
We like jackets that can look good on the ski slopes as well as at an office party, and if you are looking at a winter parka made by an outdoor apparel company instead of on Fifth Avenue you probably do, too. Arc'teryx keeps things classy with the Camosun by keeping the exterior free and clean of unnecessary pockets, placing the two hand pockets behind small storm flaps and hiding the insulating down baffles under an outer shell.
This jacket's only exterior flash comes from the small classic logo on the shoulder. This model is a technical jacket in a casual package, and we have long appreciated the neat appearance of Arc'teryx garments that can bridge the style requirements of active and formal attire.
With a heavy-duty N150 denier nylon shell covering the Gore-Tex Paclite membrane, this parka held up well to stacking firewood, skiing at the resort and shoveling the driveway in winter storms. The outer shell did not scuff or abrade, and the stains can be washed out using a Gore-Tex treatment wash. We did not have any durability issues, and this stems from high-quality materials and craftsmanship.
The most prominent threat to durability on this jacket would come from the snaps (that attach the hood) potentially pulling out, and the small diameter elastic cinches on the hood being over-tightened and stretching out or snapping. Down is durably insulating, but the lining fabric doesn't stand up to abuse. For true toss-it-around durability, fleece insulation will last just as long as down in insulation value but won't tear or spill out. Of course, fleece isn't nearly as warm as down.
Arc'teryx garments typically come with premium prices because of the large amount of technology and design that go into them. Spending this much for a winter jacket is a serious investment compared to our Best Buy winner, the Marmot Fordham, but it can be worth it when you consider the materials and the long lifespan you can expect from the Camosun Parka.
For looking good around town on chilly winter days, the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka scores high marks in warmth, weather resistance, comfort and style, the qualities we most admire in a winter jacket. For this, it wins our Editors' Choice Award.
— Jediah Porter