Shopping for outdoor gear can be a headache and if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it can be unsurprisingly complicated and confusing. Technical terms and supposedly helpful acronyms are like a language of their own although with a little backup knowledge, you can really simplify your shopping experience.

Take Arc’teryx products for example, specifically the SL category. You see that in this collection, you have either a jacket, some pants or maybe a vest. Some of you may be wondering, “what does the SL stand for” and “is this really important to my overall purchase decision?” The answer is yes.

Arc’teryx has a series of categories that use letters such as SL, AR, LT and FL and believe it or not, those letters play an extremely important role in your purchase selection. SL, for example, symbolizes that this particular product is a Super Light product. The focus of the SL collection is an emphasis on lightweight and packability over durability. These products are made of lighter materials and are designed for those adventurers looking for jackets, pants, hoodies, etc. that are lightweight and suitable for their journeys.

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The Arc’teryx SL Jackets

Within the Arc’teryx SL category, there is an assortment of jackets. Below we compare the differences between the jackets within the category so you can be sure you are purchasing exactly what you are looking for.

alpha sl

The Alpha SL jacket is a waterproof and breathable 3-layer GORE-TEX® jacket ideal for climbers and alpine climbers looking for a super light layer to protect themselves from the elements when they need it the most.  Boasting a fitted fit, you don’ have to worry about loose sleeves or hems getting in the way of your gear during an ascent. The hood is helmet compatible so you can be sure to get full waterproof coverage in the wettest conditions. Constructed from the lightest weight materials available and utilizes PacLite® product technology, the Alpha SL jacket is an ideal emergency waterproof/ breathable option and is easily a backpack essential.

The Alpha SL jacket is not currently available on Altitude Sports but you can purchase the past season’s model for men and women at a discounted rate on

beta sl

Similar to the Alpha SL, the Beta SL jacket is also a super lightweight and packable weatherproof shell. This particular model though is designed for hikers and backpackers and will have specific features dedicated to these types of activities. Specific features include a low-profile StormHood™ and laminated WaterTight™ zippers on the two hand pockets. If you’re a hiker looking for a reliable jacket to fit as your packable emergency weather protection, the Beta SL is a great choice.



beta sl hybrid

Next we have the Beta SL Hybrid Jacket. Simply put, this jacket is a combination of the Beta SL and the Alpha SL. It is equipped with a helmet compatible StormHood™ and high wear areas are reinforced with GORE-TEX® fabric with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology. This is a super light jacket that is both waterproof and windproof making it an essential emergency weather protector for any hiker or climber battling undesirable conditions. The Beta SL Hybrid offers multiple additional features that the Beta SL does not which is evident in the pricing. If you are looking for a more technical super light jacket, the Beta SL Hybrid is a perfect choice.

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fission sl

Other SL models include the Fission SL jacket which is the lightest, fully waterproof and insulated jacket perfect for cold, wet weather. If you are looking for something super light and weatherproof that will also keep you warm, the Fission SL jacket is exactly what you need when the weather turns. A helmet compatible StormHood™, anatomical shaping and articulated elbows with gusseted underarms makes it ideal for hikers and climbers. This jacket pairs the Arc’teryx exclusive Thermatek™ insulation with GORE-TEX® weatherproof fabric to create the ultimate emergency, wet weather protection jacket perfect for cooler temperatures.

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