First Impression: Arcteryx Alpha FL Rain Shell

Lately I have been planning my trip to Mount Whitney and obtaining some final gear, to ensure I am protected in the elements and have a light pack. I did a whole lot of research on many different websites including Reddit. I entered a lot of discussions, read a ton of blog and watched a whole lot of YouTube videos. I looked at Jackets from Outdoor Research, and Mountain Hardware which are two companies I have a decent discount at. Even though I have a discount I and love both companies, I decided on purchasing the Arcteryx Alpha FL.

When looking for a rain jacket, I wanted something light but also bomb proof in any sort of weather. I was looking at the Helium HD jacket from Outdoor Research, and Quassar II jacket from Mountain Hardware (Both I could have gotten at discount). All three jackets are fairly light and pack able, I ultimate chose the Arcteryx Alpha FL because of its 3 layer protection combined with its weight, and an awesome hood.

From the reviews I had read online such as Outdoor Gear Labs topped ranked hardshells, it was obvious that the Arcteryx Alpha FL was weather proof and built to be fast, light and durable.

Today I received the jacket in the mail, and wanted to share some quick initial thoughts and pictures. Once I get some real time with the coat on the trail, I will come back and conduct a full featured review.

Arcteryx Alpha FL Box

Arcteryx Alpha FL Box

Nothing crazy special about the box, just black cardboard. Its funny how this is even a comment nowadays, but packaging is important to me when you pay top dollar for a jacket. Diving into the box, the coat was protected with some of those big air bubbles.

On top of the jacket was a folder, which I have never seen before. Opening the folder was a cool little newspaper type thing,  which contained some awesome photography and great outdoors article. Also in the folder was an awesome Arcteryx sticker.




One of the things I liked about this jacket is that it comes with a small stuff sack. Yes, i realize a lot of light jackets come can stuff into their own pockets. I even own the Down Ghost Whisperer (More to come on this in another post) from Mountain Hardware that does that, but I am not a fan of stuffing a jacket into its own pocket.

My gripes about stuffing a jacket into its own pocket is protection. I am afraid that once rolled up into itself and thrown into the pack, if has to fight with thee where and tear of being in  my pack next to other items.

I love the fact that the Arcteryx Alpha FL comes with a stuff sack, because it still light, and small packing but the stuff sack gives the expensive jacket stuffed into my pack some protection while on the trail and not being used!

The little white pouch is the stuff sack that comes with the jacket

The little white pouch is the stuff sack that comes with the jacket


Looking at the above pictures, your first impression may be that the hood is huge, and yes it is…. at first. The hood is designed to be able to go over a helmet, but has 3 elastic draw strings that make it easily and quickly adjustable.

The first one is on the back, and the next two you can see in the picture above that sinch it down.  Honestly I was shocked at how quickly I could adjust the hood to fit my small head perfectly without a helmet on. I pulled the back one first, then adjusted the left and right cords on either side of your head.

Other than the hood, the jacket is pretty slim on features. It does not have pit zips, and only has one pocket on the left chest. Last quick note are the cuffs, they are Velcro and are able to tighten perfectly around my thin wrists.

Overall I am super impressed with the construction of this jacket, you can tell Arcteryx stands up for high quality. The jacket is light, seems bomb proof and packs down small with not extra features. Simply I believe this jacket will be great on the trail to keep me dry if a quick storm comes in. I cant wait to test it out!

O yea, I am sure you want to see what it packs down to right?

Beer for size comparison ;-)

Beer for size comparison 😉


Fixing a Flat with a Hatchet…


Strasbourg Cathedral


  1. bruce

    no pit zips? on a gore-tex hard shell? be ready for a sticky sauna-like experience especially you wear that on the steep ascent of Whitney. i’d seriously reconsider.

  2. Lisa Connell

    How did the jacket perform on the trail?

    • Mike

      The jacket performs great, but unfortunately have not been able to test it in the rain over a long hike. Its super light weight, and I have really only been able to use it as a wind breaker once I got to camp. This is why I have not written a follow up article on the jacket yet, need to get some rainy hikes in…..which has been hard here in southern California!

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