5 Key Items that define the Canadian Outerwear Brand
Words: Chris Danforth
Canadian outerwear brand Arc’teryx is world famous for its best-in-class mountaineering gear. To better understand the brand, we look at five highlights from the Arc’teryx catalog, including shell jackets, mid-layers, and backpacks.
If you want to understand any outdoor company, take a look at where their headquarters is located. The North Face is based in Denver, Colorado, a mecca for mountaineering, kayaking, snowsports and so much more. Salomon sits within the alpine town of Annecy, France, located a stone’s throw from Mont Blanc, and on the doorstep of several national parks.
Canadian label Arc’teryx makes its basecamp in Vancouver, Canada, a coastal city sandwiched by the Pacific Ocean and towering coastal mountains. Arc’teryx is a brand that is heavily informed by its surroundings, one could even say that Arc’teryx is a product of the Pacific Northwest, and of the Canadian city it calls home. In 1989, the brand was established as Rock Solid by Vancouverite Dave Lane, who got his start making climbing harnesses. The company was re-dubbed Arc’teryx in 1991, named after the Archaeopteryx, one of the first birds and a transitional form between earlier dinosaurs and modern dinosaurs.
Arc’teryx’s mainline performance category includes apparel, footwear and accessories for a wide range of outdoor conditions, as well as sub-line categories including Veilance’s modern-functional wear collections, LEAF’s law enforcement and armed-forces equipment, and System_A, a new concept that crystalizes performance characteristics into a streetwear-inspired range.
Composing the bulk of the company’s business, Arc’teryx’s mainline collection is set apart by industry-leading quality and performance credentials, and the brand is largely considered a step up from outdoor competitors like The North Face, Columbia, or Patagonia. Arc’teryx is also commonly associated with its shell jackets, which are divided up into purpose-driven categories and designs, including AR (All Round), SV (Severe Weather) and FL (Fast and Light). There’s an Arc’teryx shell for every situation.
Arc’teryx is also known for its colors. Mountain bright shades are colors that stand out in the mountains or forest to provide protection through visibility, in case of emergency or rescue, and this high-visibility spectrum is something that Arc’teryx emphasizes each and every season. Highlights from Arc’teryx’s color catalog include the purplish-blue »Squid Ink«, the neon-citrus orange »Wildchild«, or the pared-down rusty brown »Komorebi«. In fact, Arc’teryx’s color theory goes deep into the LEAF range as well. The LEAF team uses a concept called Urban Wolf to create specialized grayscale camouflage systems, suitable for urban combat.
Unexpectedly, Arc’teryx has also developed a reputation within a group that the brand has never ever considered designing for – graffiti writers. Hard-wearing Arc’teryx jackets are favored by painters who not only rock the Vancouver brand on missions, but also thieve Arc’teryx jackets by the rack, selling them to other graffiti writers. For more on the graf-street-level nuances and sub-culture surrounding Arc’teryx – sometimes affectionately referred to as Deadbird – you can read an as-told-to here.
But recently, Arc’teryx has been dipping its toes into the world of limited-edition product, first working with Palace Skateboards on a range of co-branded gear, ahead of another forthcoming collaboration alongside the namesake brand of German minimalism queen Jil Sander, which is now run by couple design-duo Luke (a Vancouverite) and Lucie Meier. Over the course of the last year, Arc’teryx has also placed an emphasis on local storytelling around some of the brand’s retail locations in Toronto, Calgary, Los Angeles and New York City. In New York City, Arc’teryx worked with Supreme collaborator and graffiti artist Shaun Crawford for a series of customized mid-layers and shells. In Calgary, the brand launched a collection of limited pieces created in collaboration with indigeous artists like The Chief’s Daughter.
Arc’teryx has also put pen to paper with American designer Nicole McLaughlin, the brand’s first ever global ambassador. Known for her clever upcycled creations, McLaughlin joins Arc’teryx just as the brand is doubling down on its used gear program, named ReBird.
But the core of Arc’teryx is still hard-wearing, outdoor product. Arc’teryx gear is created for a wide variety of demanding situations, ice climbing, switchback approaches, rock climbing and much more. To better understand the brand, we look at five highlights from the Arc’teryx catalog, which you can currently find online or in-store from HHV.
Arc’teryx’s mithril armor. The SV stands for severe weather, as in ice climbing in a hailstorm. This alpine system comes with the best-of-the-best weatherproofing, GORE-TEX Pro, which offers bells and whistles like abrasion resistance and four-way stretch. The Alpha SV also features an embedded RECCO® transponder, which makes the wearer searchable to over 700 search-and-rescue organizations, in case things go very wrong on your adventures. Arc’teryx is constantly tweaking and improving the Alpha SV, producing it in a new and updated iteration each season.
This is one of Arc’teryx’s most versatile all-season shell jackets. It doesn’t have the ice-climbing credibility of the Alpha SV, but the Beta LT is a strong all-rounder featuring waterproof, windproof, and breathable GORE-TEX, plus accessible pockets, and a longer cut that makes it more suitable for daily wear. Plus, it comes in at about half the price of the Alpha SV.
This technical mid-layer with synthetic fill is your favorite hoodie’s favorite hoodie. Far and away one of Arc’teryx’s most popular pieces, the Atom LT is best nestled between a base layer and a shell jacket, but also works incredibly well as a standalone layer, depending on the weather. The Atom LT is produced in a wide variety of colors each season, from mountain brights to staples like black and navy blue.
The Cerium LT is the down-fill cousin of the Atom LT. Boasting an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, the Cerium LT is packed with 850 fill-power down, while remaining far less bulky than the 700 fill Nuptse, for example. The down mapping targets moisture-prone areas, ensuring protection where you need it. Just like the Atom LT, you can throw this under a shell or wear as a standalone.
The Arro 22 backpack has been part of the Arc’teryx catalog for two decades. A versatile carry-all, the Arro 22 offers a transitional sleeve which is good for a laptop or a camelbak, depending on where your journey is taking you. The main compartment has enough room to make this bag suitable for camping trips or the office commute.
Shop Arc’teryx’s 2021 collection at HHV.