Posted by Petrus de Klerk in Clothing, Gear on October 1, 2015
With the last remnants of winter still lingering around my home base of Cape Town, the past couple of weeks were ideally suited for testing First Ascent’s brand new ARX waterproof jacket on and around my local trails.
First things first, I’ll bash through the specs without trying to be too technical about it. Most importantly, the jacket is fully waterproof with a water head rating of 5,000mm. This means that the jacket will stay waterproof for as long as a theoretical column of water that rests on it doesn’t exceed 5,000mm. In non-technical terms this means that the jacket is highly waterproof (most fully waterproof jackets range between about 5,000 and 10,000mm rating) and should keep you dry in most conditions barring the worst.
The exposed zippers (more on this later) and seams are fully welded (or “taped”), meaning that they also won’t let in any water (being one of the largest factors differentiating between “waterproof” and “water resistant”). The cuffs have Velcro straps so that they can be tightened in order to secure the fit, while the hem of the jacket has an elastic drawstring so that it can also be drawn tight. One note here – I would have preferred a little extra length at the back in order to keep excess water off the seat of my pants (a feature quite common in some similar offerings) as this can become extremely uncomfortable on long runs.
As far as convenience is concerned, the ARX folds up into its front pocket and can then be looped around your hand via a strap fit to the inside of the pocket. With a weight of about 190g for a men’s “small”, the ARX fits firmly on the lower end of the weight scale as far as waterproofs are concerned (with waterproof capabilities and weight normally being an exact trade-off – more of the one usually means less of the other).
The ARX’s hood (a must-have as part of many minimum requirements to pass kit check) fits comfortably over your head, with an amply sized peak made of a slightly stiffer material in order to keep its shape and keep out the rain. No matter how dry the rest of you feels, once rain starts getting in your eyes, any run in wet weather becomes a nightmare.
The overall fit of the jacket is comfortable with plenty of room for your arms to swing unrestricted and the large zips are easy to grab even with cold hands – a welcome detail that doesn’t mean much under normal circumstances but does make a difference when the rain is pouring down and you can’t feel the tips of your fingers anymore. There are also some nifty zips under the armpits in order to help the jacket breathe a little – once again waterproof ability normally comes with breathability as a trade-off – these can then be unzipped when things start getting a little stuffy and really do make a world of difference. These zippers are not taped, but being out of the way of direct rain, this won’t pose a problem.
All in all the ARX is a thoroughly decent piece of kit. Personally, I would have liked a longer hem at the back and more than one colour, but these are not deal breakers by any means. At a price point of R2,000 it puts this jacket firmly in the category of other top class pieces and I would suggest doing research to see which is the best fit for you. If you do land on the ARX, you won’t be disappointed.