Reviewer Profile: 5’3” and 120 lbs (on a good day)
Size: Women’s Extra Small
Color: Olea Green
Fit: Relaxed, hip length
- Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX® Pro Shell 3 layer construction with DWR finish
- WaterTight™ full length front, urethane coated Vislon zipper
- Fully taped seams of tiny GORE® seam tape (13mm &19mm)
- 100g of Coreloft™ insulation
- Articulated elbows and gusseted armpits
- Insulated, 4-way, adjustable helmet compatible hood with laminated brim
- Laminated chin guard
- Adjustable hem draw cord
- Two high-volume, water resistant YKK zippered hand pockets with protective flaps
- Internal mesh pocket, internal MP3 pocket with YKK zip, laminated internal pocket, and laminated sleeve pocket
- Powder skirt with gippy elastic lining and snap closure
- Mesh lined powder guard pit zips for venting
- Hidden Recco® reflectors for added safety in-bounds skiing
Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Snowbird, Grand Targhee
Days Tested: 20+
All snow lovers wage a winter-long battle with frigid temperatures, some more successfully than others. I hate to admit that I fall into the latter category, and often struggle to layer for success.
I run colder than average, and I continually fail to assemble the correct amount or combination of layers, no matter the weather, and I almost always overdress. So I was thrilled to give an insulated Gore-Tex Pro shell a go, to see if my layering nightmares could be laid to rest.
Enter the insulated Sarissa Shell by Arc’teryx. This jacket is loaded with features, and is a top-of-the-line, snowsport-specific, insulated, waterproof and breathable shell designed for inbounds skiing and riding.
Fit / Sizing
When compared to other Arc’teryx jackets I’ve tried, the Sarissa has a much looser, freeride style and shape to it. In the Arc’teryx Venta SV Softshell and the Atom LT Jacket I fit perfectly in a size small, but the size small on the Sarissa completely drowned me. In addition to looking like a shapeless sack, the sleeves were also much too long.
I ended up selecting an XS. The length, sleeves and girth were a better fit. I did notice that when zipped up entirely, the collar on the size XS jacket was quite a bit smaller (in circumference) than that on the size small, and I wished it were not quite so tight; however, it isn’t a deal-breaker. (For comparison’s sake, I am 5’3” and 120 lbs, I fit nicely in size small in most products for Patagonia, Norrona, North Face and Stoic. I am more comfortable in an XS for most Icebreaker products.)
Most insulated jackets have a more general/generic fit than uninsulated shells, and the Sarissa definitely has a more relaxed, less athletic cut than the majority of shells in the Arc’teryx lineup. I like that it does not restrict or inhibit my movements when trucking around the mountain, loading lifts, etc. I wouldn’t say it’s the most flattering shape out there, but I do like it’s simple aesthetics. (I found the uninsulated Norrona Lofoten Active Shell and Stoic Bombshell jackets to be more flattering options).
Given that the Sarissa boasts a hefty dose of 100 grams of synthetic Coreloft insulation, it actually manages to conceal that fact pretty effectively. It’s neat how much warmth this jacket can pack in a deceptively thin package; the jacket is not as bulky as I had expected it to be, and I take pleasure in the fact that the Coreloft insulation doesn’t leave me looking like a bumbling Michelin Man on skis.
(The Sarissa jacket features the same Coreloft insulation as the Arc’teryx Atom LT jacket, though it is definitely warmer, since the Atom LT only features 60 grams of Coreloft.)
The jacket is of standard length, hitting my upper thigh, and just barely covering my bum on the backside. The hem of the jacket is also adjustable, featuring two toggles to either side of the main zipper, which can be slid along a cord to tighten or loosen the hem.
The sleeve length is perfect for me on the size XS, though as I mentioned it is longer in the size small than other Arc’teryx products I’ve tried, so it seems the sleeves simply run longer on this model. The cuff openings on the jacket sleeves are generous, and I had no trouble accommodating my Gordini Elevation II mittens that feature a large, bulky gauntlet.
Waterproof / Breathability
I am pleased to report that this jacket is entirely water resistant, waterproof, and coffee-proof. On my first day in the Sarissa, I spilled about 8 oz of java all over myself, and it beaded right up. The DWR finish shed the coffee off the fabric leaving no stains. I am not a graceful creature, so I’m glad that the Sarissa can handle both coffee and frozen precipitation with ease thanks to the Gore-Tex Pro fabric and its DWR treatment.
It’s been a very cold December/early January here at Alta, and I’ve been using the Sarissa as my ‘go-to’ storm jacket. As you would expect from 3L Gore-Tex Pro fabric, this garment provides ample protection from the elements, be it wind, giant powder flakes, graupel, or freezing sleet. Twenty days in this coat, and the performance of the waterproofing or DWR has not diminished one iota.
The seams are fully taped, and I’ve experienced no leakage. The main zipper, pit zips, and exterior sleeve pocket zipper are coated with urethane for excellent water resistance—no issues there, either.
This jacket is also completely windproof, which I learned over the course of four different days when winds were 40 mph or stronger. I didn’t notice any wind penetration through the hem or the die-cut Velcro® sleeve closures.
As to be expected with an insulated jacket, this isn’t quite as breathable as an uninsulated shell (I’ve recently used the Stoic Bombshell and the Norrona Lofoten Active Shell as comparisons). The Coreloft insulation creates an additional barrier between the user and the exterior fabric, which does slightly impact breathability. I became uncomfortably hot when sidestepping up into the Devil’s Castle the other day at Alta when temps hovered around 30. I unzipped the jacket, which helped, but this is definitely not a jacket that works well when hiking is on the itinerary.
The insulation incorporated into the Sarissa does somewhat negatively impact its versatility in that it becomes too hot for extended hikes and it definitely cannot be used for backcountry touring. That being said, the breathability on the Sarissa is great, as long as I’m not doing anything that requires uninterrupted, high-energy output.
The Coreloft insulation is actually hydrophobic (meaning it repels water), which helps drive moisture away from the skin. When just skiing around, the Sarissa has given me no trouble with overheating or the dreaded swamp factor.
The exterior fabric itself has a smooth finish to it. I must report that it does produce a rather loud sound during movement. A relative of mine joked that the jacket actually sounded like rustling dollar bills when I fessed up to the lofty price tag on this piece. I think it sounds a bit more like newspaper when ruffled.