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Arc'teryx Norvan SL jacket review

Posted by Amy McCarthy on 9/12/2016 to Product Reviews
Arc'teryx Norvan SL jacket review
I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Norvan SL Jacket, an ultra lightweight Gore-Tex running shell, created by Arc’teryx. I’ve had the chance to wear it trail running in both wet and dry conditions. I am new to trail running, but not to being active or working outdoors in all types of weather. Having good gear that performs well makes a big difference to the experience of being outside in poor weather. I have previously used the Norvan Jacket, but for mountain biking, not running, and enjoyed the jacket and the difference it made to biking in the cold wet Autumn days. As a person new to trail running, I didn’t want to use poor weather as an excuse to avoid running, so the Norvan SL Jacket was a good product to test in such conditions. It also gave me more motivation to go out and run in heavy rain!!! That must be good, right? The Norvan SL Jacket does not have a face fabric laminated to the outside of the Gore-Tex membrane. This design feature reduces the weight, increases the breathability and has a permanent beading technology on the membrane that shakes off the rain. The absence of material wetting out is an added benefit of not having a face fabric on the jacket. Like any Arc’teryx product, the finish is impeccable and the product design is well thought out, e.g. ability to tie the hood down, reflector patches, and a tiny stuff-sack.

The Norvan SL Jacket is so light on that I hardly noticed it over my running top, as if it was simply floating around my torso and arms so that I barely felt I was wearing a Gore-Tex shell at all. The fit was extremely comfortable, did not impinge the range of motion of my arms on the climbs, and with the hood tied down there was no annoying flapping as I blazed down the descents.

On cooler but drier days it still gave my skin protection against the wind chill, and yet was breathable enough to be comfortable on longer runs. On the wetter days, I really liked the way the water beaded and was easily shaken off. It meant that the Norvan SL Jacket remained a comfortable performance piece, and maintained its breathability for the duration of my run. I do have a lot of hair, and when I put the hood up, I didn’t feel any extra restriction of movement due to the abundance of my hair (those with short hair never have this problem!). It packs up so small that I can stuff it into the back pocket of my running tights and bring it with me for those days where it may rain. It fits in better when it’s not in its stuff-sack but the stuff-sack is very useful for protecting the jacket when it’s in a backpack.

The Norvan SL Jacket is a delicate and specific performance piece, designed for high energy output activities such as running. I did not try it when I went mountain biking although I have read other reviews where the user has biked with it, personally I would stick to using it for running or short hikes.

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