There are plenty of options if you are thinking about upgrading your gear. There are dozens of different waterproof, windproof and fleece materials, hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of different models. Gone are the times when manufacturers were making just ski jackets, waterproof pants and wool sweaters. Things are more complex nowadays: a ski jacket might have alpha, beta, theta, gamma versions and so to make a sense out of some messy abbreviations we decided to do some research. We kick of our “gear investigations with Arcteryx, a well-known company based in Canada. Thankfully, folks at Arcteryx’s customer service were quick to get back to us, and so here is a breakdown of their gear line-up.
SL – Super Lightweight
LT – Lightweight
AR – All Around
SV – Severe
MX- Mixed Use
AC2- Advanced Composite Construction
Alpine: Designed with articulated patterning for maximum climbing mobility
Sub-categories: Hardshells, Softshells, Insulated, Mid-layer Insulation + Baselayer
Whiteline: Anatomically shaped for unrestricted downhill movement and warmer materials for colder climates.
Sub-categories: hardshell, softshell, insulated, mid-layer insulation.
Traverse: Lightweight 3 season multi-use garments.
Endorphin: very breathable + moisture wicking for aerobic pursuits
Trail: lightweight + durable for hiking, backpacking + climbing
24: urban inspired, relaxed fits, synthetic + natural fabrics
Alpha is our Alpine Series products designed for climbing, mountaineering etc while our Beta is a lighter weight/streamlined climbing jacket. The Theta products are generally our all-around hiking/backpacking designed garments. The Venta (was called Sigma) is made out of Windstopper material and the Gamma is made out Powershield, two types of softshell material. They are termed “softshells” because of their softer to the touch appearance and less weather resistance but more breathable qualities.
A newer term called Hard Fleece (Epsilon, Fugitive Hoody, Arial/Pilot + Hercules) is another category of products that are more breathable than the other softshells but less durable and weather resistant and are often used a more durable option to fleece mid-layers.
The Fission, Kappa and Dually models are our Alpine insulated products and some snowsports insulated models include the Sentry and Sceptre jackets and Titan pants.
Alpha = Mountaineering
Beta = Shorter & Lighter
Theta = Generalist
Sidewinder = side-zip snowsports
Venta = Windstopper
Gamma = The Original Softshell (made of stretch woven Nylon/Spandex fabric)
Delta = Fleece
Rho = Base layer
Making sure you are kitted out correctly for winter sports is as much for protection as it is for performance so finding a brand that you are comfortable in and don’t feel restricted in is important.