The Arcteryx Cerium SL Jacket is an amazingly light jacket that has a very high warmth-to-weight ratio. The Cerium SL can be used as a super warm midlayer or as a outer jacket lending itself to those wanting to move light and fast, whether ski touring or alpine climbing.
The outer fabric is very lightweight so some down may be visible, particularly the darker down. The fabric has a DWR coating allowing it to shed snow and light rain, though a hard shell jacket will be needed in wet conditions. The hip length trim fit provides excellent insulation and has an elasticated rear hem and cuffs to keep unwanted drafts out.
Arcteryx use Down Composite mapping (DCM) in the Cerium SL. DCM is where Coreloft synthetic insulation is used instead of down in areas prone to moisture - the collar, chin, underarms and cuffs. These areas are also prone to down migration. The use of Coreloft eliminates this problem as it remains static within the jacket. Down is then used throughout the body and arms where warmth is required the most. The perfect ultra lightweight choice for the mountains.
A while back I tested the Cerium LT Hoody, one of Arc'teryx's first forays into the world of down clothing, and was mightily impressed by the quality, cut and innovation. So how does the Cerium SL fit into that range? Well Arc'teryx say that the Cerium SL is a jacket: "Offering great warmth-to-weight in a super compressible package, this is the lightest weight down jacket in the collection filled with 850 grey goose down. This backcountry specialist jacket is intended primarily as a mid layer in cool, dry conditions."Climbing in the Arc'teryx Cerium SL Jacket on a cold day in Riglos, Spain.
It is a really versatile insulation piece, best suited to cold dry weather (as down loses it's insulation properties when wet). I have used mine for literally every conceivable activity. It made a great midlayer whilst skiing in temperatures as low as minus 20 this winter, is perfect to throw on at the crag whilst belaying, an extra layer on lunch stops, as well as wearing casually out and about. The integrated stuff sack in one of the hand warmer pockets means you can stuff it away and clip it to the back of your climbing harness and because the Cerium SL jacket is so light and packs down so small (not much bigger and less than half the weight of a standard tin of baked beans) there is no excuse to not take it with you.Seen here in it's integrated stuff sack, clipped to the back of my harness whilst climbing multi pitch routes in Riglos, Spain.
Whilst primarily a down filled jacket, the Cerium SL is strictly speaking, a down/synthetic hybrid as Arc'teryx have opted to use their proprietary Coreloft synthetic insulation in strategic areas, namely the shoulders, armpits and cuffs. Why is this? Well, the idea is that these areas are more prone to dampness and by putting synthetic fill in them it makes them more durable and doesn't compromise warmth. It also doesn't seem to compromise weight either as you get a lot of warmth in a sub 200g package. In fact this is the lightest down jacket in the Arc'teryx range. Being a down jacket, the main parts of the jacket are filled with down! Arc'teryx use a 850 fill European grey goose down which is incredibly high quality and lofts well even after prolonged storage in it's stuff sack. A key distinction that should be understood here and one that is not made very clear by manufacturers, is the difference between US and Euro fill power when it comes to down. Basically 850 US and 850 Euro are not the same and the on the Euro scale, 850 is much better quality than 850 US. This is something worth considering, whatever down products you buy.
The face fabric that is used on this jacket is Thisela 100% nylon / 1.9 oz/yd², 20g/m². Arc'teryx claim it is: "A very stable incredibly lightweight 7D ripstop taffeta that offers and excellent strength-to-weight ratio." It feels incredibly light and soft but beyond this there is a toughness and durability that I haven't seen in fabrics used on other similarly light weight products. I've rock climbed, skied in and generally abused the Cerium SL and it hasn't yet got as much as one single hole in it. One downside, and this is purely cosmetic, of these kinds of lightweight fabrics is that it does have a certain transparent look to it that might not appeal to some, but that is just because the fabric is so thin and light. It is also windproof. Other than that, there is not a lot to say about the Cerium SL Jacket. It has two zippered hand warmer pockets, a simple collar, high quality front zipper (all zippers have minimalist glove friendly tabs) and the quality and cut you'd expect from Arc'teryx. Like I say, I've climbed in mine and it doesn't hinder movement and it fits well either as a midlayer, being low bulk it works ok under a harness, or as a light outer layer. So all in all the Cerium SL Jacket from Arc'teryx is a winner. It is so light and compressible, as well as incredibly simple that it covers a multitude of activities and is a superb and versatile addition to the wardrobe of any outdoor enthusiast. Just remember though, it is a down jacket and down won't keep you warm if it's wet, particularly noteworthy for UK users!
Overall rating: ★★★★
Climbing Gear Reviews are an independent reviewer of climbing, skiing and mountaineering equipment. Fronted by Kevin Avery, a trainee IFMGA mountain guide and former Gear Editor at UKClimbing.com, alongside Yorkshire based MIA Dave Sarkar, they provide completely honest and 100% impartial reviews. Click here to see their page.
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