What do a cutting edge outdoor brand and an old fossil have in common?  Welcome to the Arc’teryx experience, where evolution didn’t stop with a feather on a dinosaur, or in a down jacket.

Want to start a successful outdoor gear brand? Here’s my advice. Go back in time — the ’70s or ’80s will do — and start rock climbing. Then, befriend another rock climbing bum and start making technical climbing gear.

You could call it something corny like ‘Rock Solid’, and that will work for a few years, but you’re going to want to distinguish yourself from the other outdoor brands that started the exact same way and have their own mountain-inspired names, the Patagonias and The North Faces.

So, go back in time again. This time, around 150 million years, and pick an obscure creature called the Archaeopteryx to name yourself after. It won’t be very Google-friendly, but in 1991 when a shortened version of that brand name officially launched, search engine optimization wasn’t really a concern for brands.

Indeed, this is the story of that once fledgling outdoor climbing brand now known globally as Arc’teryx.

Its name wasn’t a homage to a place or a peak like its competitors. It was a nod to the idea of constant evolution and progression. It was all about symbolism.

The namesake Archaeopteryx lithographica is considered to be an evolutionary bridge between dinosaurs and birds. It rejected the horizontal world and took to climbing before developing feathers and contemplating flight.

Arc’teryx themselves went from specialising in climbing harnesses to creating a whole range of premium outdoor performance clothing and gear, underpinned by a focus on durability, versatility, and sustainability.

Illustrative of their forward-thinking approach is the fact they received a W.L Gore license to use GORE-TEX material in their apparel, despite never having made a single item of clothing at the time.

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What are Arc’teryx up to today?

Fast forward and Arc’teryx is producing some of the most impressive, technically-minded outdoor clothing and gear items around today.

With its HQ in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Arc’teryx builds outdoor gear for all manner of harsh climes — wet, windy and cold — as well as for literal harsh climbs, hiking, running and snow time.

After all, the Coast Mountain wilderness is the world’s largest temperate rainforest and North Vancouver receives an average of 178 days of rain a year — so you can rest assured they know a thing or two about waterproofing. 


Arc’teryx’s design studio — which looks more like an industrial workshop — is still based in the Coast Mountains today. They’re also the only major outdoor brand that still manufactures products in-house at their ‘ARC’One’ factory in British Columbia.


Far from resting on their laurels, Arc’teryx makes a point of continually improving upon already leading products. Their flagship Alpha SV Jacket, for example, was first released in 1998, weighed 300 grams less than their competitor’s jackets at the time, and yet has still been incrementally improved upon every season since. It’s seen a 33% weight reduction in 20 years from weighing over 700 grams when released, to now being just 475 grams.

According to VP of Design Dan Green, ‘Every product we make shares the same evolution. Evolve the design. Make it more durable. Make it lighter. Make it perform better in real world conditions.’

Oftentimes, you wouldn’t know that this level of meticulous design even goes into their products since they’re so visually clean, with their features hidden neatly away. But the quality is still overwhelmingly apparent to the wearer. It just feels good on!

The block, natural colour palettes also help keep the layers looking crisp and timeless. 

After all, If I’m paying several hundred dollars for a down jacket or rain shell, you better believe I’ll be wearing that thing everywhere I go. You don’t always want to look like a Gore-Tex highlighter. 

While the colours themselves can be pretty understated, their names are not, and Arc’teryx has some of the more interesting colour names around. I’m looking at you folklore, timelapse and cryptochrome… 

I’ve been wearing a few of these colours around lately and hardly ever want to take them off. Here’s what I’ve been sampling…

A look under the hood

It’s not often that you cross your fingers for rain on an outdoor trip, but that’s the position I found myself in with these three layers from Arc’teryx.

But, be careful what you wish for… It’s been raining for a week straight now. Thankfully these layers have lapped it up — metaphorically of course, since they’re the opposite of absorbent — and I’ve stayed perfectly dry.

Atom LT Hoody

I’m a sucker for a soft midlayer. I’m the guy that’s wearing a puffer well into double-digit temperatures. Probably because it reminds me of being tucked into a sleeping bag, or that I’m on my way to the ski hill, when I’m really just sitting in an office. And while I never thought anything would replace said puffer, the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody is well on its way. 

One of the big reasons is that it doesn’t make the same shuffling, rustling sound and it’s significantly more comfortable than dressing like the Michelin man. Since it doesn’t have the rows (read: rolls) of stuffed baffles that typically compartmentalise down it also feels much more casual.



Instead of down, its compact, so-called ‘Coreloft™’ synthetic insulation is spread throughout the jacket. Being synthetic, it retains its warmth better when wet and offers a significantly faster drying time too.

That said, the jacket has a water-resistant Tyono™ 20 face fabric which withstood more than a little drizzle and remained nicely breathable when working up a sweat.

Furthering the comfort factor are stretch side panels and a really nice cuff that tucks under any additional layers really well. I honestly haven’t been so fond of a cuff before. It’s weird.


Beta LT Jacket

The Beta Jacket was built for monsoon-like weather and did a superb job keeping out rain and wind with its 3 Layer GORE-TEX fabric. It also feels less ‘plasticy’ than other rain jackets I’ve previously worn and it expelled heat surprisingly well.



But don’t just take my word for it, one customer Tomas left the following review on their website,Had a 2-minute shower wearing the jacket and when I came out not only was I dry on the inside, but the outside of the jacket was bone dry too! Amazing.’

I had a similar experience in this rain shell, albeit in an actual rain shower.

Its simple design makes it especially versatile, and you can trust the WaterTight™ zippers, pit zips and hood to work effortlessly. I really didn’t pick up on any suspect points where water could gain entry at all.

Gamma LT Pants

Getting sick of the Greek alphabet yet? Thankfully there’s no Omicron product in the range, but if Arc’ ever make facemasks, they’ve already laid the groundwork. Check out their unique naming conventions for products! 

As for these pants, you better believe they’re my new hiking go-to. Softshell fabric with air-permeable four-way stretch means they’re seriously comfortable.



They’re also lightweight at 350g and super hard wearing — that is to say durable, since they’re actually really easy to wear. This is thanks to abrasion-resistant Fortius™ DW 2.0 fabric which is a fancy way to say they’re also an excellent climbing pant as well.

There’s an in-built belt that makes them nice and versatile as far as sizing goes, and you can tailor the cut of the ankle to get a tighter or looser taper over boots or trail shoes.

Durable, versatile and enduring like that dino-bird

Arc’teryx arguably borrowed one more thing from the prehistoric creature that inspired the name — durability and versatility.

Indeed, these are two defining features of the Arc’teryx threads that I’ve been wearing and it means you don’t need to own a stack of slightly different layers for slightly different outdoor activities.

As much as you need to be mindful of the materials, the biggest thing you can do to lessen your environmental impact when it comes to clothing is to invest in pieces that will accompany you on adventures for years and decades to come. Arc’teryx says as much in that, ‘our philosophy is guided by the belief that durability is the strongest path to sustainability.’

Natural colours and hardwearing products won’t go out of fashion and Arc’teryx furthers this idea by keeping products in use through their own circular programs like the ReBirdTM initiative, wherein garments are repaired, recycled and upcycled.

As for the materials, Arc’teryx is evolving yet again. Their new Agrium Hoody for example is one of their most sustainable products ever with a plant-based liner engineered from 60% castor bean oil.

All of which is said to help Arc’teryx reach their environmental target to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 65% (from a 2018 baseline) by 2030. 

Where to next for Arc’teryx?

In addition to evolving their range of products, and even looking for a ‘holy grail’ environmentally friendly water repellent, Arc’teryx is also focused on people. 

Arc’teryx has a commitment to expanding access to the outdoors for a wide range of people, and in 2021 gave away $1 million globally through their grant program. They recently announced they’ll be doing it again this year and you can get involved yourself

As for how many grams they’ll be able to shave off their Alpha SV Jacket in another 20 years, well, that remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, they won’t stop trying. 

If there’s one thing Arc’teryx does better than any other, it’s evolve.


Want more? Listen to the Inside Out podcast series, Part 1 just dropped!