REI’s having their Labor Day sale and one of their big coupons is for 30% any full price Arc’teryx item, so I wanted to review a few of their best-selling, big ticket items, starting with the Cerium LT Hooded Down Jacket.
Things I like:
It’s warm! I bought this jacket 3 years ago, well before I worked in apparel production or knew much about technical components. I used a less technical, yet equally effective method of shopping: try on all the puffies on the REI clearance rack and choose the one that makes you the warmest, the fastest. I wasn’t pleased that it ended up being the Cerium. It was over $200; it was not a cute color; it wasn’t even my size. But it was the toastiest thing in the store. I swore I’d return it. I never did.
It’s light & packable! It’s an 850 fill jacket, so light and compressible kind of come with the territory, but Arc’teryx also implements that same approach with the face fabric, zippers, and drawcords, keeping them all really streamlined for light weight and easy packing. And for an-almost-4-season jacket (let’s say close to a 3.85 season, perhaps), it packs down extremely small. Mine’s about the size of a burrito. It’s also about the color of a foil-wrapped burrito. May or may not have mistaken it for a burrito on more than one occasion. Skip the grey color if you’re always hungry.
They’ve got some great color options. Color’s never an important factor for me (hence why mine’s Chipotle-To-Go-Grey), but it’s really refreshing to have some options. Plenty of pink and That Outdoorsy Girl Teal to cater to the mainstream, some neutrals, and even – gasp – brown!
Things I don’t:
The Arato fabric. Wtf is Arato? Is it like ripstop nylon? Or Pertex? More durable or extra water resistant? I reached out to Arc’teryx when I was considering the Cerium SV and asked their customer service team what made it unique and what the benefits were for using it. Their response? It’s fairly fragile and designed to be used under a shell. Well that’s silly. Especially since ripstop of some sort is the standard for any jacket over $100. And at the highest price points, most brands are incorporating Pertex, where a coating on the nylon threads adds even more durability than ripstop – in a way that doesn’t add weight or bulk. Some customer reviews cite frequent feather shedding due to the low denier of the fabric, and while mine hasn’t been extreme or surprising after 3 years of heavy use, the loose threading & low denier compared to other jackets make it totally plausible.
Water resistance. There’s a DWR coating on the jacket, but topical treatments like these wear off and wash off – sometimes in as little as 8 washes. And there’s Coreloft synthetic insulation in some of the moisture prone areas. But the other jackets in that price range using Pertex have better water resistance that has a much longer life than a post-production treatment. And others use water-resistant treated down, which makes it a little less compressible, but offers better moisture management – and one of few options that protects the down from sweat moisture on the inside of the jacket.
REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Hoodie: Takes all the amazing things about the Cerium – the 850 fill down and lightweight, streamlined features and adds Pertex face fabric. Even with the coupon, you’ll save almost $50 and get a better jacket. Colors are ugly as sin. Logo doesn’t have as much flair as a big dead on your chest, but buy yourself a cute logo trucker and you’ll still come out ahead price-wise. Improvements add an ounce.
Feathered Friends Eos: If you’re looking for the top of the line down jacket, buy the Eos. It’s better across the board. Better fabric, better fill power, better durability, better compressibility, better (lighter) weight. And at full retail? Better price. By $70. And their sewing room is in Seattle. Such. A. Good. Value.
There are plenty of poorer puffy options out there, especially considering this one does so well at keeping you warm. But those inferior options also run for about 1/3 of the price and no one is going to confuse them for a jacket with top of the line components across the board. At the highest price point, there are a few other options providing the highest quality and value.