Deciphering Arc’teryx

How to read Arc’teryx terminology and what each classification means

We have all been there, blindly staring into the Arc’teryx section thinking to ourselves, what is an SK or an FL and what one do I need for multi-day coastal hiking. Not an FL or SK, that much we can tell you. Find out below what all the Arcteryx terms mean so that deciphering the perfect jacket for your lifestyle will be easier.

Arc’teryx Category Classification

SV: Severe weather is the most durable of the classification and is made for extreme exposure to harsh conditions.

SK: Ski Touring this material is made specifically for ski touring. It provides extra room for layering, has a great range of motion and is durable enough for the sport.

AR: All-Round provides high-performance weather protection and is a highly versatile shell that can be worn for multiple activities.

MX: Mixed Weather is created with changing weather in mind. This construction of shell is made for diverse activities and is highly breathable, durable and provides great mobility.

LT: Light Weight is a shell built with durable and high-performance materials but in a streamlined construction that allows for a minimalist and lightweight final product.

SL: Super Light the lightest weight materials possible while still providing weather protection and performance. This highly packable shell has limited durability but it is perfect for urban living.

FL: Feather Light this extremely minimalist garment design is as lightweight as possible while still remaining high-performance enough to withstand variable weather conditions. If you are travelling fast but need some protection from the environment around you this is the shell for you.

After the categories, you also need to think about the garment lines that these categories are used in and what their intended environments and activities are. The two classifications work hand in hand.

arcteryx terminology

Arc’teryx Style Classifications

 Outer Layers

Alpha: Created for climbing and alpine terrain the alpha line is a harness compatible line with a higher waistline, chest pockets, a helmet compatible hood and maximum articulation for above head range of motion. (Gore-tex)

Beta: a great all-around mountain line with moderate length, hand pockets and interior pockets. This line still has a helmet compatible hood, room for layers, and provides ample range of motion. (Gore-tex)

Theta: This all-around mountain garment line is the longest length of any shell line. It features chest pockets and interior pockets. Perfect for moderate expedition required movement. The helmet compatible hood makes another appearance in this line. (Gore-tex)

Zeta: A slightly longer and looser fit than the other lines, perfect for trekking and hiking. The material is a slightly softer wear that bends easier with motion. (Gore-tex)

Gamma: a softshell that is highly breathable with a high degree of stretch and abrasion resistance. Can be worn as a water-resistant outer layer.

Venta: windproof outer layer with differing degrees of thermal efficiency and highly water-resistant. The Venta line has less stretch than the Gamma line.

Fission: this is a windproof and waterproof insulated outer layer.

Kappa: insulated, windproof, water-resistant outer layer.

arcteryx terms

Mid Layers

Atom: a synthetic insulated mid layer that has hydrophobic characteristics such as a water repellant outer fabric and a moisture resistant synthetic insulation.

Delta: an air permeable fleece perfect for layering.

Epsilon: another air permeable fleece with the addition of a hard-faced and smooth outer surface with hydrophobic Bonded Polt Micro-Grid Fleece.

Hyllus: an air permeable fleece with a higher loft rating and a smooth outer surface for increased durability.

Acto: breathable mid-layer with a hard-faced outer surface and grid loft interior for efficient heat retention.

Covert: this mid-weight fleece looks like a wool knit garment.


Rho: Thermally efficient moisture wicking base layer

Eon: merino wool base layers with natural moisture wicking abilities, thermal regulation, and anti-microbial characteristics.

Phase: a moisture-wicking base layer for interval and high-intensity activities.

arcteryx garment classification

So now that you know what everything is it is easier to decide what you need. If you need an every day Gore-tex jacket for the rainy west coast environment that you can also wear on multi-day hikes you need a Beta AR or even a Theta AR, sometimes an LT if you are not going to be wearing a heavy pack. To see the Arc’teryx description for each category check out this link.

You can shop Arc’teryx online at the Ocean River Store.

2 Responses to “Deciphering Arc’teryx”

  1. British Colombia says:

    Super helpful article–thanks!

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