We get it, Arcteryx products are high tech! I've written a bunch of descriptions for Arcteryx winter products, and I've learned a lot about what is behind their fancy naming system. I also learned that there are loyal Arcteryx customers who actually care a whole lot about all the details and want to know what all the codes mean.
I’ll share what I learned about decoding Arcteryx products, including the naming schemes, the name modifiers, different types of GORE-TEX, and Arcteryx/GORE-TEX material codes. What’s in a name? Quite a bit, it turns out.
Arc’teryx Naming Scheme
A lot of brands just name their clothing after people or by the designer’s inspiration. But not Arcteryx. Instead, they name their products by the intended use. And while I could go through all the details for you, Arcteryx has a fancy chart that does a great job of explaining their naming scheme.
Below is a simple and clear outline of the names of the different types of Arcteryx products.
Arcteryx Outer Layers
Alpha products are for climbing and alpinism, are harness and pack compatible, and are designed for easy overhead reaching.
Beta and Theta products are for general use with room for layers underneath.
Gamma and Venta products are highly breathable, abrasion resistant, and stretchy.
Fission and Kappa products are insulated and windproof.
Atom products are hydrophobic, insulating mid-layers.
Delta, Epsilon, Hyllus, and Acto products are fleeces.
Covert products are mid-weight, mid-layer fleeces that look like wool knit.
Rho products are thermally efficient, moisture wicking baselayers.
Eon products are merino wool baselayers; naturally moisture wicking, thermally efficient, and anti-microbial.
Phase products are moisture wicking baselayers, designed for interval activities.
Arcteryx Product Name Modifiers
Sometimes there will be two letters at the end of an Arcteryx product name, and you’ll think to yourself, “okay, now what’s this about?” Here’s your answer.
SV is for severe weather.
AR stands for all ‘round, with a focus on versatility.
MX is for mixed usage and changing conditions, focusing on breathability, durability, and mobility.
LT is lightweight with minimalist design (such as no pockets), but still highly durable.
SL is even lighter, sacrificing a bit of durability.
SK is specifically designed for ski touring, with articulation for mobility, and room for layers.
FL stands for fast and light; minimalist garments for high performance in varying weather.
Arcteryx GORE-TEX materials
It’s all just GORE-TEX, right? Wrong. Arcteryx works with Gore to create a variety of materials of industry leading quality. There are a bunch of variations of GORE-TEX materials within the Arc’teryx product line. Here’s a mini tutorial to help you become informed.
Plain old GORE-TEX (used in the Sabre, Zeta, and Beta SL jackets) is engineered for continuous activities of low to medium intensity, such as trekking and hiking. This material features good breathability, with complete waterproof protection, and durability.
GORE-TEX Active (used in the Tecto FL jacket) is engineered for continuous high output activities like running. It offers superior breathability, next-to-skin comfort, and it’s still fully waterproof.
GORE-TEX Pro (used in the Alpha SV pictured above, Beta AR, and Sidewinder jackets) is for intense activities with frequent breaks, such as climbing and backcountry skiing. It provides excellent breathability, durability, and lightweight waterproof protection. Actually, GORE-TEX Pro is 22% more breathable than last year’s version because of a new multi-layer ePTFE membrane that eliminates the need for the previously used oleophobic (oil-blocking) polyurethane layer. So now the fabric can breathe at a lower pressure (sooner), and it’s still just as durable and waterproof.
GORE-TEX Material Codes
Have you ever read that a shell is made of “N30p-X” and thought of your own code: “WTF?” As it turns out, N30p-X indicates that a fabric is made of 30 denier nylon plain weave with an exceptional durability-to-weight ratio.
Each element of the code describes a property of the fabric that defines the nature of the material. Here are the secrets to decoding Arc’teryx’s GORE-TEX material codes.
The first letter denotes the yarn type; N for nylon, or P for polyester.
The number indicates the yarn weight, often called denier. The higher the number, the tougher the material.
The lowercase letter reveals the fabric construction; p for plain weave, r for rip-stop, mr for mini-ripstop, f for faille weave (a crossgrain ribbed weave), s for stretch.
If there is an X at the end of the code, then that means that the fabric has an eXceptional durability-to-weight ratio.
What does Arcteryx mean?
And while we’re at it, what does the name “Arc’teryx” actually mean? Arc’teryx is the shortened version of Archaeopteryx Lithographica, which was a creature evolving around 140 million years ago. This pre-historic animal was driven by evolutionary success; it became lean, strong, and excellent at climbing, and eventually it developed the feather. Arcteryx strives to embody this creature’s perseverance. The company is all about radical and groundbreaking developments to advance outdoor performance.
Alright, you educated customers, check out this season’s Arcteryx products at jans.com. Now that you know what all the jargon is about, hopefully you’re better prepared to choose the products that are the best fit for you and that make the most positive difference to your outdoor experiences.
Kendall Fischer, Content Writer