Arc’teryx Stikine Jacket
Size Tested: Large
Front Zipper Length: 32” / 81.2cm
Manufacturer’s Stated Weight: l lb 7.5 oz / 665 grams
Materials / Construction:
- Outer Shell: 2 Layer Gore-Tex with 40 denier face fabric
- Insulation: 2.7 oz Arc’teryx ThermaTek™ continuous fibre fill insulation; fully DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treated; 92 g/m² fill weight. Laminated to 30 denier inner nylon lining (also DWR treated).
- Two mesh-backed hand pockets that double as vents (internal tab adjusters hold pockets in open position when used as vents)
- Two internal mesh pockets
- Full front zip with chin guard and wind flap
- Adjustable hem drawcord
- Insulated, helmet compatible StormHood™ with adjustable drawcords
- Low profile powder skirt with drawcord adjustment.
- Smooth inner lining allows for easy layering
- 6’2”, 155 lbs.
- Typically wears a size Large
Days Tested: 14
Location Tested: Telluride, CO
Introducing the Stikine
New for the 2014-2015 season, the Stikine is one of Arc’teryx’s four waterproof hard shell jackets with synthetic insulation. And to best introduce the Stikine, it helps to orient it among a few other, similar, insulated jackets that Arc’teryx makes.
The Stikine and the Modon jackets are part of the Arc’teryx “Whiteline” series of big-mountain, freeride-oriented, skiing & snowboarding pieces. The Fission SV and Fission SL jackets sit in their “Essentials” line of more versatile, multi-sport products (said to be suitable for skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing / trekking). All are synthetically insulated.
While the Modon and Fission SV jackets feature Arc’teryx’s Coreloft insulation, the Stikine and Fission SL are insulated with their ThermaTek insulation.
ThermaTek is said to be slightly more efficient than Coreloft, providing a bit more warmth per unit of weight.
Arc’teryx also says ThermaTek is “the fastest drying fill insulation in [their] collection,” as well as their “most efficient insulation when used in humid and wet conditions.”
As I understand it, ThermaTek was first used in the Dually Belay Parka and Solo Hoody, two climbing-focused pieces in the Arc’teryx Ascent series. Thermatek was then repurposed for use in the multi-sport Fission SL, and now, the Stikine jacket.
In essence, the Stikine is a more skiing-focused Fission SL, and has a more relaxed fit and a minimalist, trimmed-down set of features.
It’s billed as a “waterproof, warm, lightweight, breathable” shell made specifically to (1) “provide warmth and wind protection” during “backcountry touring’s rest and transition phases” (2) “block driven and falling snow” and (3) “protect from the cold” on descents.
So the Stikine is technically a touring-oriented jacket, but, as Arc’teryx says, it’s primarily designed to insulate and provide warmth even in wet, humid (sweaty) conditions, rather than be especially breathable, which is often the case with anything we’d generally call a “touring shell.”
Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to actually tour with the Stikine yet (though again, this isn’t a touring jacket per se). But I have worn it on a number of particularly humid, early season storm days and in bitterly cold, windy conditions in resort, and feel I’m in a good position to evaluate what Arc’teryx has to say about the jacket and what it’s made for.
First, a few notes about the design and features of the Stikine.
Design & Features
As mentioned above, it’s fair to think of the Stikine as a tweaked version of the Fission SL jacket. Both are made with the same 2-layer Gore-Tex outer shell fabric, and the same ThermaTek insulation. However, the Stikine has a slightly more slimmed-down design compared to the Fission SL.
The Fission SL has both traditional pit zips and hand pockets, whereas the Stikine lacks dedicated pit zits. Instead, the Stikine’s hand pockets are mesh-lined, and serve as vents when opened (I’ll speak to their dual functionality below).
Both jackets have the same two internal mesh dump pockets (just like the one on the Arc’teryx Caden jacket) which are nice and deep, big enough to hold a pair of gloves or large goggles easily and securely.
The Fission SL does not have a powder skirt, while the Stikine does have one, of sorts.
The jacket’s “low profile powder skirt” is a strip of material just inside the hem with a draw cord that runs through it (see picture below). The skirt is broadest at the back of the jacket and narrows as it wraps toward the front, so it’s not the wide, belt-like powder skirt with snaps at the front and a strip of rubberized elastic you might find on an uninsulated shell. In any case, the Stikine’s low profile skirt still works pretty well to keep out cold air and snow; helps keeps the jacket’s overall weight down; and makes it more packable.
The Stikine’s hood is excellent and, apart from its insulation, is the same as the Caden’s, which I’m a big fan of. It’s plenty big enough to fit over a ski helmet, and cinches down well, stays put, and protects you from wind and cold without affecting field-of-view much at all.