The Arc'teryx Zeta SL kit has already found its way into our array of Arc'teryx outfits for different occasions. Lightweight, waterproof and eminently packable, the Zeta SL gets chucked in our pack for longer backpacking trips as an emergency storm shelter.
Last year, we reviewed the women's Arc'teryx Beta SL Jacket and Pants. Check out that review if you are looking for something more durable (and also heavier). We have tested and reviewed many items from this great Canadian brand over the years. To see 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.
The Zeta Sl Jacket and Pants come together to offer wearers a dependable, lightweight weather protection system. Click the arrow in the orange bar below the images to read the full review.
Here's a little video from Arc'teryx showing off the Zeta SL jacket's features.
I was in need of a dependable and lightweight jacket and pant shell combo for a week-long backpacking trip along the Pacific Coastline. When COVID hit, and any kind of travel wasn't a good idea, the trip got cancelled. The good news is that there was still plenty of rain to give this 2L GORE-TEX with new PACLITE jacket and pant kit a thorough testing. The coastal trip is back on and I'll be sure to update this review with anything I discover.
With a design goal of lightweight, the Zeta SL keeps the features simple. The non-helmet compatible hood—which I like if I have no intention of wearing a helmet—is snug fitting and comfortable. This is thanks to the laminated brim and "halo adjuster" elastic cord tensioner.
Here's the view from aft. No big surprises—though the cord garage is something you don't often see.
Die-cut Velcro cuff adjusters keep things tight, or loose, depending on what you need. Note the über tidy micro stitching on the forearm.
Adjustable hem drawcord that tucks up, and out of the way.
No pit zips here. The Zeta SL's Paclite fabric breathes enough that there is no need. Pit zip would also add unwanted weight.
No inside pocket on the Zeta SL Jacket. This jacket and pant combo is a bare-bones emergency weatherproof system that's intended as a back-up—rather than a full feature, full-day program. Note that this newish version of Paclite is comfortable next to skin—key if you are running the Zeta SL over a T-shirt if it's hot (and raining).
Fear not though. There are two external pockets for you to stash a snack, pair of gloves, map or whatever.
Embroidered Arc'teryx logo on the chest. See the little squares of the Paclite?
The pants are built with the same simple, lightweight, minimally featured design ethos as the jacket. Simple single snap waist closure.
Internal webbing adjuster give you a size or so of give and take.
I have accumulated quite a few pieces of Arc'teryx kit over the years. Each item seems to excel for a certain, specific application. If you only have one jacket, you may want to go for something with super-bomber durability and weatherproofing. If you have a few pieces and like to hike, bike, ski, paddle and more—in all four seasons—then you can get picky and hone in on specific features (and items) for a specific activity.
The Zeta SL jacket and pants are made as lightweight hiking, emergency storm protection kit. In other words, they may not be what you need for trekking in a torrential downpour for weeks on end—but they are a heck of a lot lighter than something that might be more appropriate for that unpleasant activity.
The new Paclite product is more durable than earlier iterations and the backer technology is also next-to-skin comfortable. I have had the Zeta SL jacket and pants out for a day in the rain and found them to be comfortable and waterproof. They also breathe enough so you don't get that wearing-a-garbage-bag-sensation that many lesser jackets may provide.
The real value to me is the fact that they are really lightweight packable. At about 310g, the jacket is near the lightest end of the scale for products that perform similarly. Together, the jacket and pants also pack down into something slightly smaller than a Nalgene bottle. This is the kind of size and weight you want if you are packing for a multi-day backpacking trip and would rather fit everything into your 65 litre pack, rather than bring your 95-litre expedition beast. And... speaking of value, in Arc'teryx terms, the Zeta SL jacket and pants, at $380 and $300 respectively, is relatively affordable. Careful though, this may be gateway gear that'd put you on the path to continued, and spendy, Arc'teryx purchases in the future ;o)
Arc'teryx Zeta SL Jacket
Price: $380CAN / $299US
Weight: 310g / 10.9oz
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colours: Dynasty, Tibre, Kepler, Black, Exosphere, Kryptochrome
Arc'teryx Zeta SL Pant
Price: $300CAN / $249US
Weight: 245g / 8.6oz
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, 2X. Short, Regular, Tall inseam.
Colours: Labyrinth, Black
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