The Arc’teryx Alpha SV hard shell is the most bomber of all shells from this high-end Canadian manufacturer. Even the name of the material—Gore Tex Pro with Most Rugged Technology—speaks to the durability of this updated version of an old favourite. The jacket and bib kit means you're covered tip to tail with "most rugged technology."
We have enjoyed testing, reviewing and wearing a lot of kit from Arc’teryx over the last decade. If you are curious, look at our reviews of the women's Arc'teryx Beta SL Jacket and Pants, and the Rush LT Jacket and Bib. To see even more, type "Arc'teryx" into the search bar above and to the left. If that's one keystroke too many, check out our review of items as various as the: Arc'teryx Sphene Jacket, or the Procline Carbon AT Boot. Ok! Let's get rolling with a look at today's subject, the Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket and Bibs.
Full body shot so you can see the fit. To check out the full, in-depth review, hit the little arrow in the orange bar below these two photos.
Why have a shot of the tag, you ask? Because the Alpha SV kit is made in Canada at the ARC' ONE facility. If you have as many Arc'tryx pieces as I do, you'll know that Made in Canada doesn't appear on many items these days. I guess Arc'teryx designers decided to design and build their flagship piece in their hometown.
In this multi perspective head shot, you can have a good look at the hood . It is clearly helmet compatible—and it features two well-positioned draw cords (see side and back photos) so you can dial in a good fit.
The Alpha SV jacket features full-length pit zips. Some jackets are zip free and claim they aren't needed because the jacket breaths so well. This jacket breathes really well and it features pit zips. I like this option; regardless of breathability, sometimes you just want to dump heat.
Handy bicep pocket, suitable for a snack or ski pass if you have one of those.
The requisite flash here. Note minimal interior pocketing. One zip, one stuff (big enough for climbing skins. Note also the lack of a powder skirt, which is fine by me. Forgive the model's grimace.
Let's step down to the Arc'teryx Alpha SV Bibs, now, shall we? To start with, I'd call them more of a half-bib. Some bibs go as high as one's chest, these ride just above your belly. The Arc'teryx folks refer to this as "mid-rise." The softshell-type fabric at the top of these bibs is slightly elasticised so it acts as a comfortable seal to keep the snow out. Like the jacket, the Alpha SV bibs are made with the GoreTex Most Rugged technology; in other words, they are bomb proof. The SV bibs have been refined over the years (as has the jacket). To read our review of the Alpha SV Bibs from way back in 2013, click here.
As with the jacket, the pocketing is minimal on the bibs. Like... there's only one thigh pocket (rather than the two mentioned on the Arc' website). The good news is that it zips closed and features a security loop that you can used to stow, and secure, your transceiver.
Here on the left you can see the little hem adjustor that enables you to tighten the hem and ward off snow and weather. At right we have the bibs' lower leg zipper fully opened. Note that there is enough space for a lightweight smaller touring boot, like the Scarpa F1 LT in touring mode, but, with something heftier like the Dynafit Vulcan at left, things can get a little tight.
Here is the pantleg, fully zipped up on a snowshoe outing. You can see how closely it fits your calf. This is likely driven by the alpine and climbing world where you don't want to get tangled up in loose pant legs.
I've been running the Alpha SV Jacket and Bibs as my sole hardshell layer for both touring and resort skiing. As well as the fact that it fits like a glove, the Alpha SV also breaths better than other jacket/bib combos I have owned. In other words, you can often leave the jacket on for the uptrack as well as the down. Your sweat escapes through the GoreTex fabric and keeps you dry. This is key.
As far as the feature set goes, the Alpha SV kit is minimal. If you like a powder skirt and gaiters, this may not be the ensemble for you. I like to keep things simple and I found the number of pockets to be perfect. When ski touring, I always keep clunkier, awkard items in the top pocket of my pack. The only items that go in pockets on my person are things like a hanky, a buff, a snack or some up-gloves. In other words, I don't use pockets that much so I don't want them included. There is a sneaky feature on the bibs that I have grown to love: the kneepads. Nothing like being able to drop to your knees in comfort on the snow to fiddle with gear or whatever.
I have most recently used the Arc'teryx Rush LT Jacket and Bib combo. Comparing the Rush LT with the Alpha SV, it's clear that the latter is a little less packable and little heavier. This is the price you pay for having the most durable kit Arc'teryx makes. And, look on the bright-side—when the first iteration of the Alpha SV jacket came out in 1998, it weighed in at 708g. Now it weights only 475g. I wonder what the jacket will weigh in 2040?
Fit is a big factor with the Alpha SV. Though the jacket is touted as "regular" fit, the bibs are designated "trim." I am 175lbs, 6' 2" and I went for the medium in both jacket and bibs. The large size jacket felt massive to me and I like my pants to be pretty form fitting. If you are going to invest in this outfit, go and try it on at your local retailer.
Price: Jacket - $950CAN/$799US;
Bibs - $850CAN/$4649US
Sizes: Jacket - XS-XXL; Bibs - S-XL
Weight: Jacket - 510 g / 1 lb 2 oz;
Bibs - 580 g / 1 lb 4.5 oz
Colour: Jacket - Red, Black, Light Blue; Bibs - Grey, Black
|Alpha SV Jacket 8.5/10
Alpha SV Bibs 8.5/10
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