Not going to lie folks, I’ve spent years in total ignorance when it comes to naming conventions on Arc’teryx & Arc’teryx LEAF. Given their propensity for making up silly names for their colour options, I had if I’m honest presumed the suffixes on the item names were some sort of strange code in latin.. or whatever. I haven’t checked the LEAF site yet, but the website for the civilian line does now display definitions for the suffix acronyms which are very handy indeed. If you’re going to make the considerable investment in any of their products, you absolutely need to understand *exactly* what it is you’re investing in and the capabilities it will have; and even more importantly, the capabilities it won’t have.
For example, I’ve owned an Atom LT Hoody for a few years now and it’s one of my favourite pieces of clothing in genera. Widely regarded as one of the most popular items in the entire Arcteryx line-up (LEAF or otherwise), but if truth be told when I bought it I didn’t truly understand what it exactly it was, the thinking behind the design or materials used in making it. I didn’t have any concept of how a PCU (or similar) layering system worked, I just knew the Atom was some sort of a insulating jacket, I wanted the brand and it was on sale at a good price. Also it was the civilian version with no velcro in grey so I can wear it anywhere without any concern at all. Now luckily for me, it turned out that the Atom was a really good buy and I grabbed a good deal, however that was as I say pure luck and if you don’t put the time in to getting a decent base of understanding in layering and materials (and lots of other details) it can be easy to end up buying something that doesn’t really fit your needs. I got lucky that one time but I’ve made a few erroneous purchases in the past too.
The Arc website is very useful in that it properly breaks down all the key materials used on any given item/garment and explains the where and why. Something that the majority of tactical manufacturers are very lax in doing. It’s worth investing in quality when it comes to outdoor kit because if you use them properly those items will ensure you stay as warm and dry as possible while still breathing, resisting wear like champs and generally providing faithful service to the wearer. It’s still possible to outfit yourself pretty well on a budget, you just need to take the time to research options, check out mil surplus kit (specific items, not all of it) and most importantly ask people who’ve used lots of layering system options in the past; not some bloke who bought a shell one time because it was the tactical thing to wear, but has never actually spent any time any time out in the woods/hills during the colder months, or had to stand guard duty in the winter, or hump a backpack a decent distance through rain and hail (hail is the best, I can tell you).
HOPEFULLY I’ll actually get somewhere near the Arc’teryx booth this year, I tried at least once a day last year and it was rammed non-stop wall to wall. Based on a post over at Soldier Systems Daily, they should have some new combat clothing on show using the new ‘Katana’ fabric from gore-tex which is something like a super-breathable softshell; but in a multicam combat uniform. Similar idea to the field cut uniform Outdoor Research currently offer, but far better laid out from what I’ve seen. Going to be pricey (along the lines of the Tyr Tac jungle multicams) but possibly the best all around multicam uniform money can buy with more versatility than the Crye All-Weathers in terms of warmer/humid environments.