The Arc’teryx Rush jacket has been my primary ski shell for the past five seasons. During that time I’ve had the opportunity to test the Rush in weather ranging from all-out rain in Washington’s North Cascades to heavy snowfall and high winds here in the Wasatch. First and foremost, the Rush is a hardshell jacket built for, as Arc’teryx puts it, “big mountain realities,” and I can attest that this jacket is well-equipped to deal with the harsh realities big mountains have a tendency to remind us of. Now let’s take a look at what makes the Rush such a capable big mountain shell.
If you’re unfamiliar with Arc’teryx and its design philosophy, you should know Arc’teryx takes a very purposeful approach to its outerwear, with the intended use influencing what features do—and don’t—make it on a piece of gear. Where a lot of manufacturers throw features on gear like it’s bacon on a maple donut, you’re most likely not going to find a lot of interesting, but not really necessary accessories like built-in goggle wipes, internal headphone cord routing, or removable fur hoods on an Arc’teryx ski jacket, and the Rush is no exception.
Arc’teryx built the Rush for big mountain skiing and snowboarding, and the jacket’s no-frills design and high-end fabrics reflect that intended use. Making the jacket waterproof, windproof, and breathable, Arc’teryx used a three-layer Gore-Tex Pro shell, which is Gore-Tex’s top-of-the-line membrane technology, that’s protected by a durable 80-denier nylon face fabric, or what Arc’teryx calls N80p-X. In terms of weight, the Rush jacket tips the scales at about 1 lb 4.8 oz (590 g), making the jacket about 110 grams lighter than the more generalist Sabre AR, and it’s 230 grams lighter than the more resort-focused Cassiar jacket.
One glance at the Rush’s spec sheet, and you’ll quickly realize this is a jacket well-equipped to combat the elements whether you’re skiing deep in the backcountry or at your local resort. Arc’teryx placed a slightly more durable fabric along the shoulders and back of the jacket to protect it from backpacks, and they gave it large internal mesh pockets that can easily carry a pair of climbing skins when your skin glue starts to lose its stick. Throw in two large underarm zips for quick ventilation, and you have everything you need for a stormy day ski touring with the Rush.
Arc’teryx also gave it a few nice features for those days you’re skiing in the resort. I don’t usually take the time to button up a powder skirt when I’m ski touring, but I’m always glad it’s there when I’m lapping powder in the resort. Needless to say, the Rush’s powder skirt and fully adjustable, helmet-compatible hood have been very welcome features when Old Man Winter rears his surly head and I’m stuck sitting on a chairlift 80 feet in the air. Speaking of chairlifts, Arc’teryx even put a zippered sleeve pocket on the Rush, which makes a great stash-it-and-forget-it spot for a season pass.
The first thing that really jumped out at me with the Rush was the fit. I knew Arc’teryx spent a lot of time dialing in the fit of their products, but I was impressed with just how well the jacket fit my frame. Where some ski jackets I’ve owned in the past have a boxy torso and shorter sleeves, I found the torso of the Rush to have a more contoured design that felt a lot more natural.
As far as the sleeves go, they’re plenty long enough to fit over a pair of bulky gloves, and I’ve never had a problem with them leaving exposed skin between by gloves and cuffs while I’m skiing. I’m 6’ 3” and weigh about 190 lb, and I found the extra large fit me really well, and it even left room to layer a puffy jacket or fleece underneath without the jacket feeling overly bulky.
If there was really anything that raised concerns when I first tried on the Rush, it was the tall collar, which comes up around the chin and is quite a bit taller than what I was initially used to from other ski jackets. My concern was it could get really annoying when I was skinning uphill with the jacket on, or it could even push my breath up towards my goggles and fog up my lenses while I was skiing. Overall, though, my first impressions of the Rush were positive, and I was stoked to get the jacket out into its natural element.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been using the Rush as my primary storm shell for the last five seasons, and it’s still going strong. Whether it’s heavy snowfall, biting wind, or just plain nasty conditions, the Rush is more than up to the task of keeping you dry. When I know the weather is going to be bad, I rely on the Rush to combat the elements. The helmet-compatible hood easily fits over my ski helmet when I’m hunkered down on the chairlift, and it can be cinched down when I’m just wearing a ball cap underneath and I need quick protection from wind.
I’ve also found the pocket layout to be very intuitive. The two large chest pockets are great for stashing anything from a camera or heli strap to a half-eaten energy bar or beverage for the chairlift. The underarm vents are also great for releasing heat, which is a really nice feature to have on a jacket like this, as its hardshell construction isn’t nearly as breathable as a stretchy softshell.
The Rush is comfortable to skin and climb in for a hardshell, but I will say that I usually opt for a stretchier softshell jacket if I know the weather is going to be mild. Even then, if i think there’s a chance the weather will turn foul or winds will be ripping on the high ridges, I’ll be sure to pack the Rush in my ski touring pack, as the jacket packs down to about the size of a Nalgene water bottle and weighs a little over a pound.
Drawbacks and Shortcomings
It’s really tough to find where the Rush falls short, but I’d say the one area I’ve found the Rush lacking is the durability of the face fabric. While there have been no catastrophic failures in the fabric, I’ve had to repair a handful of small holes through the years after skiing through tight trees or shouldering my skis during bootpacks. With five years of service and only a few small nicks in the fabric, it’s hardly worth knocking the Rush too much for this.
My second complaint with the Rush has more to do with the nature of hardshell jackets than the Rush itself, but if you’re doing a lot of skinning and climbing in mild, bluebird conditions, then the Rush is most likely not the best option for you, as this jacket isn’t nearly as breathable as a stretchier softshell. But, if you tend to ski regardless of whether it’s dumping snow, howling wind, or even drizzling rain, then the Arc’teryx Rush is the storm shell you’ll want to have on your back.
Overall, Arc’teryx nailed it with the Rush, and I can see why the jacket has remained a staple in Arc’teryx’s impressive lineup of shell jackets. If you need a jacket that’s nearly impervious to wind, sleet, and snow, but still allows you to move freely while you ski, skin, or bootpack, then the Rush jacket is for you. It may not be the most breathable jacket on the market, but in terms of reliable storm protection that will last you season after season, the Rush is a sure bet.