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If you found your way to Arc’teryx through viral street snaps of modern gorpcore looks worn by celebs like Frank Ocean or Drake, you may have missed some of the backstory of the brand’s venerable shell jackets. Launched in 1989 with an initial focus on climbing harnesses and packs for alpinists, the Dead Bird brand first ventured into apparel in 1998 with the Alpha SV jacket, created in partnership with Gore-Tex. The unique approach improved Gore's waterproof membrane, created an icon in the world of outerwear, and laid a foundation for Arc'teryx built on top quality products engineered to withstand the harshest outdoor conditions.
The jacket has undergone only a few updates in the past 25 years—though it remains exclusively made in Canada—with perhaps the most notable being the introduction of then-new GORE-TEX Pro 2.0 membrane fabric in 2020. Our own Alpah test proved the jacket held up to expectations then. Now, somehow fours years later, the flagship shell is again in the news—this time for more sustainably storyline. The new 2024 Arc'teryx Alpha SV features a 100% recycled face fabric, improved construction, and of course–bold colorways for high-visibility at elevation and low-key shades for more under-the-radar in-town ensembles.
Beginning at the cutting table in Arc’teryx’s BC manufacturing facility, where the Alpha SV is meticulously constructed, the patterning approach and the lamination process that bonds each piece together are improved to provide easier repair and a longer lifetime of wear overall. More repairs equals less junk in the landfills.
While the new Alpha SV jacket still features the highly breathable and waterproof 3L Gore-Tex Pro 2.0 membrane, it’s now preceded by a new 100% recycled 100-denier face fabric that resists scrapes, cuts, and tears while dragged across craggy rocks one might face over mixed climbing routes or final pushes to alpine summits.
We wish all premium goods were developed with repair and longevity in mind, so we award Arc’teryx with a prestigious gold star for keeping these improvements at the forefront of the sustainable redux of its flagship shell. Speaking of gold, with Bluesign approved materials and the same dependability, this modern upgrade worth its weight in the stuff.
Which brings us to two vital metrics yet to be mentioned. The new Arc'teryx Alpha SV weighs just 510 grams (430g in women's style), and runs a cool $900. Performance doesn't come cheap—and if you're actually out there ice climbing and summiting peaks mid storm, you'll be happy you ponied up.
If you’re concerned that a $900 shell might be overdoing it for your use, might we remind that Arc’teryx offers an entire line of shell jackets for ultralight trail runners and city-walking civilians, all of whom value a dry torso when the weather gets nasty. But don’t worry, we won’t judge if we spot you on the train “overdoing it” in this bomber jacket.