At the Climbing Zine we get lots of gear to test, sometimes too much to really wear something for longer than a few weeks. The Alpha Comp was different. I kept coming back to it in my personal climbing, from high alpine routes to ski decents and local cragging. At the six month mark I realized there was nothing left to do but a full-blown “Year Wear & Tear”, the most rigorous test we’ve done here at the Zine.
Reviewed by Shaun Matusewicz
I am glad I did. The Alpha Comp Hoody shines in a lot of areas. These become bolder and brighter over time and a few of the jackets weaknesses become more obvious too.
First, it lasted. This is key. Too many jackets work well out of the box, only to start a steady and sometimes precipitous downward spiral too the realm of “camping jacket”. They become too torn and useless to be used in the demanding world of real climbing.
A year of rough treatment, including ice filled chimneying and tough, repetitive pull-and-pack jobs, and the Alpha Comp Hoody, which may be one of the essential camping clothes, still looks fresh, still has style and nothing blew out, even the zippers are silky smooth and bomber.
Living in the mountains of Crested Butte, Colorado, I tested in all four seasons. The clear winners were fall and spring. In deep winter it just didn’t hold out the wind enough (especially in the front) leaving me chilly. In the summer it packed well and stowed small in our packs, but there are better jackets for the job. The Arc’teryx Squamish being a great example.
The thing is, this jacket isn’t really made for those uses. It is made for alpine climbing, and in Colorado this means spring and fall. Here the jacket excelled. The highbred construction of Fortius 1.0 and N40p 3L means it breathes extremely well and is tough, allowing you to keep it on, both for the approach and the climb itself. Even basking in the sun after a long alpine climb, I never felt too hot.
The fit is superb, sitting well over a helmet and staying in place when you climb. Thanks to the Arc’teryx Hem’Lock inserts, the jacket stays down below your harness, regardless of how desperate your tool swings become. For those not aquatinted with Hem’Locks, they are basically foam inserts around the bottom edge of the jacket. These keep the jacket from rising above your harness and make a ton of sense. I wish more jackets had them.
One drawback: The Fortius 1.0 material stains easily. I spilled something on it the first week and the mark is still there, one year and two washes later. Not a big deal for most skiers or climbers, but if you’re wearing the jacket to a business meeting this could be an issue.
The Bottom Line: The Alpha Comp Hoody is a solid alpine jacket that works well in all but the coldest of situations.
The Arc’teryx Alpha Comp (men’s) on backcountry.com
The Arc’teryx Alpha Comp (women’s) on backcountry.com
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In the vertical world, quality gear is as important as good weather or the right partner. At the Climbing Zine, we review gear that we put to the test in our personal climbing pursuits, over months of use. If we like it we’ll tell you, and if we don’t we’ll tell you. That’s our policy…If you have gear for us to consider for a review please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle. You can now subscribe to The Climbing Zine as well!
We have also published two books: The Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, both written by publisher, Luke Mehall.