Arc’teryx Macai Ski Jacket: One to Rule Them All
You’re looking at the champagne of in-bounds ski jackets. Not the $15 prosecco you saw on sale at the local Foodway; we’re talking bottle-service-level quality and style, slope-side. Forget the hand-me-down sweater your dad let you wear on the annual trip to the ski hill; this is the jacket they’ll announce your arrival in when you step onto the gondola at Chamonix. Allow us to introduce you to the emperor of insulated, waterproof, breathable ski jackets: The Arc’teryx Macai. This jacket rivaled the second coming for me, gear tester who cut her teeth facing down New England ice storms, Colorado blizzards, and Alaskan winter temperatures. There’s a reason it won our premium pick for the best ski jackets; find out why for yourself.
You Get What You Pay for With the Arc’teryx Macai
For us mere peasants, the MSRP $999 price tag was enough to make me choke on my porridge. The opportunity to test the caviar of ski jackets was closer to a Cinderella story than I would care to admit, but there was no going back once I zipped up the Macai, stepped into my skis, and carved my way down the frozen New England ski trails. Those who knew me scoffed at the thought of me donning a jacket that costs more than most mortgages; those who didn’t nodded in envy as they froze their buns off waiting for the lift. As for me? Well, I was toasty, dry, and ready to shred well past the bell.
You may be asking what could justify a price tag that would eat up most of your stimulus check, and I wouldn’t mock you for it. Unless you’re committed to this as your ski couture quiver killer, it may be too far out of budget as just another ski layer. However, ask anyone in the ski industry, and they’ll tell you that Arc’teryx jackets are the platinum standard of ski jackets. Arc’teryx has incorporated the latest in warmth, waterproofing, and rescue technology into their Macai jacket.
Macai Construction Specs
From the burly three-layer Gore-Tex exterior (which feels like a soft, warm, comfortable winter jacket, rather than a hardshell rain jacket) to the compressed down and synthetic insulation, which provides mega warmth without mega bulk, this jacket is made for those cold, cold days. Arc’teryx does so with “down composite mapping”: synthetic Coreloft insulation, which still retains heat even when it’s soaking wet, provides the insulation along with the hood, hem, and underarms, where you’re the most likely to come in contact with moisture. Its 750-fill European goose down insulation in the core and sleeves gives you the most warmth where you need it to keep your core and arms toasty warm when winter rages around you.
The fit should stop at the hips (which it did on both male and female testers) with enough room to allow for a thin layer below. The cut sits between Euro-athletic and American comfort-baggy for a smooth, clean, and sharp-looking outline.
With all that insulation, though, I was worried about overheating with exertion. Arc’teryx was one step ahead: mesh-backed PowderGuard vents and a mesh-backed, water-resistant front zipper prevent snow entry but allow heat to escape. This design comes in handy when you’re hoofing it up a ridgeline or just hustling across the flats to get the last beer cheese pretzel at the end of the day.
The Macai features a myriad of specialties, too: taped seams and watertight zippers for snowproof protection, even on blower powder days or icy storm days. An adjustable, removable, synthetic-insulated, and helmet-compatible hood with pull-string adjustment and a low visor to protect from windy gaps is there to move with your head motion keep you 100% protected. A high-necked, insulated collar to keep the wind and snow out of vital warm spots. Adjustable hems and cuffs, along with a powder skirt with gripper elastic, will keep your skirt from riding up on your ski pants.
Did I mention the six different pockets, including an exterior pass pocket, internal mesh pockets for gloves and Buffs, plus zippered hand pockets to stay warm, keep the snow out, and hold onto your valuables? Yeah, I was impressed by the pockets.
Rescue Technology & Conclusions
What do I love most of all? As an outdoor professional guide and Search and Rescue volunteer, I can’t say enough about this RECCO Advanced Rescue reflector included in the design. The magnetic RECCO designs are ultralight, built-in tech that makes it possible to track lost skiers (or hikers, or snowshoers, or anyone) from the air, which is one more safety feature to help rescue efforts. In a warm, windproof, waterproof, and breathable Gore-Tex ski jacket (did I mention those pit zips?), you couldn’t ask for more than peace of mind.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t recommend this jacket to just anyone (who has a spare grand to drop on a ski jacket?). But if you have the budget, I wouldn’t recommend anything less.
The Arc’teryx Macai has earned its title as the king of the winter realm; bundle up and ski your heart out knowing you’re warm, protected, and as stylish as royalty in this insulated snow shield.