When you're adventuring in the outdoors, the right layers are often the most important gear. This is never more true than when you're out in the winter. The right base layers, mids, and outerwear can turn an inhospitable day into a memorable adventure as you stay warm and dry. In this article we'll look at one of the most premium outer shell jackets on the market: the Arcteryx Alpha SV.
 
Arcteryx has earned a reputation as one of the leading clothing and backpack companies in the outdoor industry, and this is for good reason. They design their gear for extreme weather and make it to last for years. They are one of the highest-priced brands on the market, but Arcteryx gear is professional-grade equipment made those who demand the best and have money to spend.

For our review of the Arcteryx Alpha SV we took a deep dive into the jacket's features and also compared it three other premium quality shells. We have listed a few pros and cons for each as a quick reference and provided and overall rating for the Arcteryx Alpha SV based on our five-star rating system.

COMPARISON TABLE

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What Is an Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket?

Man wearing a black Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket

The Arcteryx Alpha SV is an ultra-premium hardshell outer jacket that is intended for extreme weather. They designed it with ice climbing, alpine expeditions, and professional use in mind for those who need absolute protection from the most harsh conditions. The Arcteryx Alpha SV would be an appropriate choice for mountain search and rescue crew members, ice climbers, extreme backcountry skiers, and researchers in extreme cold climates. It comes in sizes ranging from XS to XXL and five colors including black, grey, blue, red, and green.

Product Specs  

Man wearing a grey Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket

The Nitty Gritty

Water and Weatherproofing

Breathability

Packing and Storage

Fit and Design

How It Compares

Man wearing a turtle neck Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.    

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  • EASE OF USE
  • Breathability
  • DESIGN QUALITY

5.0 of 5 stars

The Alpha SV has a simple and minimal design.

Pros

  • Extreme durability and weather protection
  • Simple and intelligent design
  • Excellent storage pockets

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Probably overkill for most users
  • Lacking packability

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The Shift LT Hoodie Jacket from Westcomb is also a premium hard shell, but considerably lighter weight than the Arcteryx Alpha SV. It's made from the lightest weight PolarTech NeoShell material available and features a stripped down design with few bells and whistles. It has one waterproof chest pocket with a waterproof zipper, a full waterproof zipper in the front, and Velcro cinch cuffs. The hood also has few minimal adjustments, but there is not much to weight this shell down.

The company designed this shell with the high-end enthusiast in mind, but it would likely fall short for a professional in an extreme climate. The lighter weight material and fewer zippers could, however, make it an excellent choice for warmer conditions and for those who want an easily packable shell that will fit in a smaller daypack.

  • EASE OF USE
  • Breathability
  • DESIGN QUALITY

5.0 of 5 stars

This is a super minimal coat without many bells and whistles. 

Pros

  • PolarTech NeoShell material
  • Super minimal construction 
  • Waterproof zippers

Cons

  • No pit zips
  • Very plain aesthetic

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The Axiom jacket from Outdoor Research falls in between the weight of the Shift LT Hoodie from Westcomb and the Arcteryx Alpha SV. It's a tough and resilient hard shell made for ice climbing and backcountry ski touring but remains highly breathable with a Gore-Tex Active lining.

This is one of the most breathable membranes available from Gore and will help keep you dry throughout the day. This stretch material will allow more ventilation than either the Arcteryx Alpha SV or the Westcomb Shift, but it lacks pit zips. It also has minimal pocket space with a single chest pocket and two small side pockets.

The Axiom jacket is one of Outdoor Research's most popular and it's huge with backcountry skiers. Like the Westcomb this may not be the right choice for those headed to Everest, but it may be more versatile and cost-effective for recreational users seeking a high-end product.

  • EASE OF USE
  • Breathability
  • DESIGN QUALITY

5.0 of 5 stars

This jacket earns full marks for its tough and simple design. 

Pros

  • Gore-Tex Active
  • Nice color options
  • Excellent weather protection and breathability

Cons

  • No pit zips
  • Not really minimal, but not really feature-rich either

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The Trollveggen Gore-Tex Pro jacket is the most comparable shell on this list to the Arcteryx Alpha SV. This is the toughest water and windproof jack from Norrona and is designed with ice climbing, winter trekking, backcountry skiing, and glacier travel in mind. It features extended pit zips for excellent internal ventilation and waterproof Aquaseal zippers from YKK.

An oversized storm hood and robust 80 denier nylon make this a tough coat that will keep you warm and dry without restricting too much movement. The Trollveggen is the only jacket in this review that could truly compete with the Arcteryx Alpha SV as a professional grade garment. This is a burly and well designed coat and would be a good choice for pro ski patrollers, search and rescue teams, and even ranchers who prefer a more athletic cut rain shell.

  • EASE OF USE
  • Breathability
  • DESIGN QUALITY

5.0 of 5 stars

This jacket is tough and easy to use. 

Pros

  • Super tough and durable  
  • Excellent water protection 
  • Big storm hood for added warmth

Cons

  • Aquaseal zippers dominate aesthetic

CONCLUSION

man wearing a hoody Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket

Buying a high-end piece of equipment always comes with inherent risk. When you put down a lot of money, both the expectation and potential for disappointment increase. With the Arcteryx Alpha SV, however, you will not be disappointed. This is a very expensive jacket and there is just no way around that. For that reason it's important to understand what this shell is and who they make it to serve—hardworking professionals and extreme athletes.

If you are weekend warrior or even an enthusiast with expert skills but a day job, this shell is probably not for you. With an average retail price of over $750 it would be hard to imagine a casual user that needs this much weather protection and durability. With that said, this could be a single hard shell that last the rest of your life.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Water and Weatherproofing
Breathability
Packing and Storage
Fit and Design
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