Arc’teryx Macai Jacket Review

Bali to Whistler – Arc’teryx Macai Jacket review

After spending a full year in +30C temps with 90% humidity in the surf-yoga-hipster mecca of Bali, I knew I was going to have to up my outerwear game this season back in Whistler. You can’t bring skiing to the tropics, so I figured I’d bring tropic temps to skiing. Enter the Arc’teryx Macai Jacket – a waterproof GORE-TEX jacket stuffed with down and synthetic insulation – that fits like a regular jacket without the stay-puff-marshmallow-man affect.

Macai protecting me from that cold white stuff that was trying to get in my face.

Apart from various winter camping puffies, the Macai is probably the first insulated ski-specific jacket I’ve had since I was doing jump turns on K2 Extremes in the ’90’s. That’s ’cause ever since then I’ve been a backcountry nerd, and on the mild ‘wet coast’ of BC, insulated ski jackets don’t make a lot of sense for backcountry travel. They’re generally heavy, bulky, and limit your layering options. The same is partly true for the Macai (compared to a shell jacket), but the down insulation compacts well and packs a wicked warmth to weight ratio.

So if insulated jackets aren’t an obvious go-to for coastal backcountry, why get one? Well, for everything else. While I type this review it’s -25C in the Whistler alpine with a cold-as-hell arctic outflow windchill. Am I gonna bust out the Macai Jacket this week? Hells YA. Backcountry or resort, you’re gonna want some puff in your life right now.

Hot pink on the forecast is the opposite of hot. Macai’s happy place.

It’s also my new go-to for mid winter resort skiing (when all the backcountry layers are over-kill), and general winter life on the lake or in town. This week everyone is digging out their dusty collection of puffies and layers just to get out of the house without brain freeze, and I’m just slipping on the Macai and gettin’er done.

Even a jacket this sexy can’t hide how contrived this pow turn photo attempt is. But hey, I’m warm, and smiling like a dork. So let’s try another lap.

Macai PRO’s

Warm as hell. Skip the endless layers and just get after it. If you like skiing naked but it’s too cold out, just throw on a Macai Jacket to keep your core warm while the rest of you roams free in the winter wind. Dare you 😉
-Kick-ass warmth-to-weight ratio.
Waterproof – so you don’t have to choose between your big puff or your shell.
Ski Jacket design – Designed as a rad functional ski jacket, not just an insulation layer. Has the usual bells ‘n whistles like pass pocket, pit zips, goggle pocket, removeable powder skirt, goggle shammy, stash pocket and so on. You can shred cold days and not look like Mr Stay-Puff.

Macai CON’s

Too hot’n bulky for backcountry skiing in Coastal BC except for the darkest depths of winter.
Hood is a bit small for over-helmet wearing.

Gotta love brand new GORE-TEX on ‘wet coast’ days. Photographer bonus points for squeezing in the Arc’teryx logo AND some random skier’s crotch into the photo. Work of art.

Conclusion

Hey, it’s an Arc’teryx jacket. You know it’s gonna kick-ass and take names, but you just have to decide if it’s the right one for you or not. If you’ve already got a thin shell and want some warm fuzzies in your life, or made poor life choices and live somewhere bitter and cold, the Macai is for sure the way to go. If you want a one-trick-pony jacket for all-weather touring, then stick with the usual lightweight shell jackets with layers. But while you’re scrounging around for layers, I’m just gonna slip no this Macai Jacket on top of my cotton bali tank top and go out for a rip.

Hey, at least I’d be warm if I’d landed in the tree well.

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