Arc’teryx was started by climbers and to this day that DNA runs through the brand. But what makes their kit so good for a day at the crag?

This article was written on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri People, while mentioning locations found on this land, as well as the lands of the Wadawurrung, Guildjan and Gadubanud Peoples. Sovereignty was never ceded. Always was, always will be.


When I arrive home after an eight hour stint in a stiff-backed office chair to see a parcel from Arc’teryx outside my door, the first thing that I think is ‘sweet, weekend sorted’. 

Coming from Arc’teryx, my expectations for the kit now in my hands – the new Sigma FL Pants, Gamma MX Hoody, Quadra Crew (with accompanying C-quence Harness) – were already pretty high. 

I’m filled with the kind of giddiness you used to get the night before an overnight school trip.  The gear envy I’d often feel out at a crag or in a climbing gym when I saw the telltale boney Arc logo on some really slick-looking gear is melting away.

Eager to put the kit through its paces, I start planning my next few days of climbing, hiking, bouldering, even kickboxing.

And pray for a classic Naarm Melbourne temp drop.  


First Impressions – Wind & Rain

In my new gear, I walk in and around the series of short routes about Werribee Gorge on my way to Falcons lookout. There’s a series of steep tracks, slippery rock with some sport climbing from mid-grade up.

I’d barely even made it across the car park when the sky opened up, raindrops beading in their thousands shed effortlessly from the softshell outer layers of both my pants and hoody. I’m happy. I’m warm and I’m dry, and this is exactly the weather I wanted for my first foray out with the kit. 

Although it’s clear that the pants and hoody are designed to perform well in alpine environments, I found both garments performed exactly as described in nearly every environment, on the trail, up at the crag, and indoors at the gym. The gear feels like it adapts to different conditions.

The long sleeve Quadra Crew hugged my arms nicely and paired well with the hoody, allowing for a full range of motion. 

The Sigma Pants, Gamma Hoody and Quadra crew is one hell of a combo. So far it’s been lightweight, tough, wind and rain resistant, just about everything I could ask for in one package. But then of course, a kit is more than just a first impression.

The Look – Slick & Sensible

It’s no secret that Arc’teryx has a distinctive look. Stylish and minimalist, their pieces are often monochromatic, an aesthetic that screams ‘we mean business’. I appreciate it, the slick and simplistic look, meaning I don’t appear out of place while out on a hike or at the crag or even on a quick coffee run during a gym sesh.



Speaking of the aesthetics, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one little issue I have with the kit, that being the limited colour options here in Aus; black for the Sigma Plants, Gamma Hoody and C-quence Harness, and black or white for the Quadra Crew (mine is white). 

I suppose, as I said, the monochromatic look keeps in line with Arc’teryx’s simple and practical style, though the peacock in me wishes for a few more fun colours. 

The overall fit is nice, and if you’re short like me (5’2) the hoody is slightly longer in the torso (to minimise any ride up or updraft) and zips up comfortably to the nose, leaving just my eyes exposed, without cutting off my peripheral vision.   

It helps to hide my wide but bashful smile after the third gear compliment I get from a stranger on my hike out of the Gorge. 

Performance/Other Features – Sweat & Pockets

The Quadra Crew is made from a lightweight Bowen™ polyester, I felt pretty confident I’d be able to put it to the test, on account of my being a sweaty-boi. I’m not ashamed to admit it, and decided to push my new long sleeve all the way. 

One outing, two, three, four donning the Quadra Crew without a wash, I was surprised by not only the crew’s breathability, and remarkable lack of pit staining but yep, even with a big whiff, it passed the sniff test. The crew’s material is treated with Silver Chloride, which means the material actively kills bacteria, and leaves you smelling fresh as a daisy. Great news for long weekends on the cliffs.



The Bowen™ polyester was crafted by Arc’teryx at a Fair Trade Certified facility as part of their commitment to transition 80% of their products to Fair Trade certification by 2025. A noble commitment, one anyone in love with the outdoors can appreciate (and something certainly my skin appreciates). 

When it comes to any sort of climbing gear, a major concern of mine is pockets. Pocket space, pocket placement, pocket quantity, the variables and considerations are endless. 

Good news for pocket connoisseurs, the Sigma Pants and Gamma Hoody are a verifiable cornucopia of pockets.

The hoody has three pockets, two just above harness level at the waist, one at the chest (perfect phone size), each of them well positioned for one handed operation, with watertight slim zippers that were easy enough to use both gloved and ungloved, so long as you keep the little cords on the end of the zips. 



The pants have two cargo pockets with the same zipper features – most important for me was that they were still accessible while wearing the C-quence Harness, and while I’ve only climbed with my phone in the leg pocket, I still had good articulation and can’t imagine there being much you can put in there that might inhibit your climbing (unlike some other pants I’ve worn while out on adventures).

While it’s easy to walk around with a phone, snack or some gear in your pocket, trekking and climbing requires articulation, the kind of flexibility provided easily by the crew, hoody, and pants combo. Truth be told, I particularly love the Sigma pants. I put them to the ultimate flexibility test and took them out to my kickboxing class for a spin. 

They were the right mix of tight and baggy to get in some real proper kicks and hold my stances particularly flexible around the hips and knees, an unexpected delight which I think speaks to the true malleability of Arc’teryx’s Sigma design.

Similarly, the C-quence Harness uses vanguard Contoured Warp Strength Technology™. What? Basically the same piece of webbing that’s used at the front of the harness, travels around the harness too. This evenly disperses the load across its width, a delight to use while I was up on the rockface, unable to feel any of the discomfort or riding up I’ve become used to with the average harness.

Lesson: the Arc’teryx C-quence is not an average harness.


Comfort – Warm & Unobtrusive

Fine-tuned to fit the more femme form, the C-quence harness hugs the body with redesigned swarmi contours and a wide, padded waistband. For me it’s all about the hanging comfort when it comes to a harness, and the C-quence meets my (literal) high standards as I hang from belays. 

The harness itself has great stretch and mobility, however, one drawback for me would be the leg loops, which do have this stretch but aren’t adjustable. If you have smaller or (in my case) larger thighs relative to your waist I’d recommend purchasing in person in order to get the right fit. Alternatively, the AR Harness is the same design as the C-quence harness, just with adjustable leg loops. 

Comfort at the end of the day is essential for performance. 

While climbing, leaping, swinging and flying through the Otway Forest as a part of an eco-adventure at Yeodene Park, I almost forgot I had all my proper and practical gear on. This is probably the biggest praise I can give to any crew, jacket and pants combo. 

Not once did I get cold, not once did I overheat. My attention was purely on the climb and adventure itself, and as someone who normally just layers legging and merino shirts for my top layers, the softshell outerwear and high-tech crew (with its cotton-like feel) proved more than sufficient (and much easier on my eventual laundry load).

Sustainability & Affordability

On the whole, I can say that I’m pretty stoked with the Sigma, Gamma, and Quadra range. I’ve yet to find a fault with the pants, crew and hoody, which speaks to that progress-led innovation Arc’teryx is well known for, constant tweakers that they are. 



That leg loop nitpick with the C-quence harness is me being very picky, because Arc’teryx’s gear is top class deserves to be held to a high standard. With their constant drive for progress and improvement it’s important give them a little something to work on for the next iteration. 

It’s clear that this is superb climbing gear, so the only thing holding back the average climber from adding this to their regular outings is, of course, the price. The Gamma Mx Hoody comes in at $500 alone, and the Sigma Pants, Quadra Crew and C-quence Harness collectively add a bonus $600 to the cost.

For many, this pushes it into the wishlist range (or a very lucky someone’s combo birthday/Christmas present) but I don’t think it’s overpriced.

When you’re looking for premium gear that performs this well, is so timeless and well-rounded and is sure to last, a higher cost is expected. To be honest, it’s a great deal for what you’re getting in the long run, and it’s exciting to see Arc’teryx making more sustainable and Fair Trade choices to further validate the price.

One thing’s for sure, I’ll proudly be the guy at the climbing gym or the crag, rocking the boney Arc’teryx logo for all to see.




Feature photo by @patcorden