Our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Arc'teryx Theta AR Women's Jacket, won our hearts for its long cut, weatherproofing, features, and mountain versatility. Thinking of going on an extended, multi-day mission? The Theta can do that. How about a quick backcountry ski on the coast? Our Editors' Choice winner is perfect for that too! What about just wearing around town? Well - of course! In comparison to the other Arc'teryx jackets tested, this one got top marks because of its ample coverage and a similar performance in weather. Plus it was $100 less than the Top Pick for Mountain Expeditions, the Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket - Women's. Awesome deal.
Arc'teryx Theta AR - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, fabric isn’t very mobile, not as breathable as lighter jackets
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Theta AR was our Editors' Choice Award Winner for its great weather protection, mountain versatility, and fantastically roomy design - perfect for stacking many layers. If you want a durable shell that will last you 10+ years and performs like no other, look no further.
This hardshell jacket has integrated the Gore-Tex Pro three-layer construction with an overlaying DWR layer, and an N70p face fabric to create a bombproof hardshell jacket. All seams are taped and it performs amazingly in terrible weather conditions. Unlike the Arc'teryx Beta AR, its long length provides ample coverage over the bum to lock in warmth on cold days and provide more weather protection than all shells (except the Alpha SV) tested.
The hood is three-way adjustable and doesn't allow water to funnel in. It cinches down to the point where only your eyes are showing, allowing for complete coverage when you integrate goggles. Like the Alpha SV, the Arc'teryx Theta AR did not wet out after our 10-minute shower test, and instead showed continuous beading. This is a sign of some seriously awesome weather protecting outerwear. This is also why we awarded the Theta, as well as the Alpha SV, top marks for weather protection.
Mobility & Fit
As a result of the rigid polymers used in the Gore-Tex Pro jackets, this shell (like the Beta AR and Alpha SV) is a lot louder than the Outdoor Research Clairvoyant. However, this fabric's mobility is a trade-off for excellent weather protection. The Arc'teryx Theta AR does boast lots of room in the arms and torso for layering, which adds a certain level of mobility. Plus, it has an anatomical design specifically for women and has very little lift when putting our hands up in the air. Also - one of the best features is its super long cut. It covers your bum and provides more coverage with its athletic fit.
Breathability & Ventilation
The Gore-Tex Pro membrane is not as breathable as less weatherproof fabrics like Dry.Q.Elite (Torsun) and other Gore-Tex products (regular and active). However, pit zips are more important with this kind of jacket, and they help make up for the lack of comparative fabric breathability.
The chest pockets aren't just huge, voluminous areas to hold your keys and energy bars - but they double as another set of vents. Even though they aren't mesh backed, they still provide a little extra breathability when opened. Breathability was good when the vents were open, but when they were closed, we sweat on uphill hikes and long ice climbs. That said, considering the level of weather protection you get with this jacket, the relative breathability is very impressive.
Weight & Packed Size
The Theta AR weighs in at only 15.05 ounces, making it lighter than the Alpha SV and a bit heavier than the Beta AR. This makes sense as the Beta is the Theta's sister jacket and just a shorter cut. This weight is low, and the jacket packs down to a size a little bit larger than the Beta AR. It's still a perfect piece of outerwear on longer, lightweight missions.
This hardshell's features make it a real winner when it comes to cold and nasty weather. The features are comparable to the Arc'teryx Beta AR, except for the long length.
The hood is helmet compatible, with three adjustment points. Also, when it's done up, it fully covers your face - bonus for those super cold days. The brim is laminated to bend and hold any position you like, and the one-pull release and tightening adjustments are accessible and glove compatible. Additionally, the pockets are large and in charge - fit your gloves, snacks, phone or lunch! The interior pocket is also a nice stowaway area for keeping items safe. Not only that, but this shell has adjustment points on the hem and waist to make the jacket warmer, with a better fit. The adjustable wrist closures are more burly than the Alpha SV, and the bomber velcro keeps everything in place.
Like all the Arc'teryx shells, the durability is unmatched. The three-layer Pro shell is bomber, featuring sealed and tight stitching with a large toothed zipper. Based on our research, we would say a hardshell like this, when properly maintained, will last you upwards of 10 years. This is why we gave it a 9/10. Evidence of a couple of issues in the Beta AR has us wondering if it transcends to the Theta since they are sister jackets. One of the pull tabs on the jacket pulled off. This has us questioning Arc'teryx's construction of small parts. Even so, they do back their products with a lifetime warranty. So if something goes wrong, give them a call, and they will evaluate to determine if they will fix it for free, or for a small fee.
This product boasts a comfortable length, pit zip ventilation, and bombproof weather protection, all of which give it a good all-around rating in this metric. The only activities in which it didn't perform best were highly aerobic activities.
For this purpose, check out our Top Pick for Lightweight Design the Outdoor Research Clairvoyant. Aside from that, it has features perfect for any activity all year long. Take it snowboarding, alpine climbing, hiking, or ice climbing. You won't be disappointed.
Any mountain-based mission is a perfect place for our Editors' Choice winner. From long alpine ice climbs to a day at the ski resort, this shell will keep you dry and comfortable.
At a hefty price tag of $579, this product is definitely on the expensive end of the spectrum. Its weather protection is on par with the Alpha SV, which is $100 more. So even though the price is high, you pay for the exceptional weather protection and durability that sets our Editors' Choice winner apart. If you're looking for a more high value, all-purpose shell at a lower price, check out our Best Buy Award winner, the Mountain Hardwear Torsun - Women's for only $350.00.
The Arc'teryx Theta AR jacket won our Editors' Choice Award for its weather protection, long cut, and versatility that transcends to all mountain sports. It will be accompanying us on many missions to come.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 30, 2014
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