Thursday, December 27, 2012

Arc'teryx Squamish Running Jacket | In-depth Review


Picture from (Squamish Hoody)
This jacket is alive.  It performs in such a way that it seems to be an extension of the integumentary system. 

I could probably stop the review with just those two sentences, but I want to give you, the reader, a better idea why I think this jacket is one of the top running jackets currently on the market.  As with all reviews on my blog, I am not interested in giving you a two paragraph synopsis of a product; rather, it is my intention to give you a story about why and how I choose certain products in order to help you through the decision-making process of buying new running gear and equipment.  So, without further adieu….

Arc’teryx—a shortened version of Archaeopteryx, perhaps the earliest transitional species between dinosaurs and birds—is an outdoor equipment and clothing company based in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  In other words, Arc’teryx is located in a region of the world in which they do not have to travel very far to test their amazing equipment and gear.  I’ve wanted to try Arc’teryx’s gear for quite some time, but it tends to be a bit out of the price range of a graduate student.  However, when I managed to find the Squamish Hoody 30% off online, I didn’t hesitate and went for it.

Moving to the East Coast from the Southwest in August of this year, I became immediately aware that sunny blue skies would be a rarity for most of my runs.  In fact, looking back over the last four or so months of running, I have never run so much in the rain in my entire life.  After a month of living in Boston, I began to look for a running jacket to get me through the Fall/Winter/beginning of Spring.  I was looking for a jacket that was either windproof/waterproof or very wind-resistant/water-resistant, lightweight, and compressible. 

My search didn’t take long, and I narrowed my choices to The North Face Stormy Trail jacket, the Patagonia Houdini, the Mountain Hardwear Ampato, and the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody.  Originally, I wanted a jacket that I could use for both school (for rainy days, which seem to be all the time) and running in the rain.  So… I went with the Mountain Hardwear Ampato, which boasts their impressive Dry-Q Elite technology, which is windproof, waterproof, and very breathable.  After a few runs, including a very rainy 14-miler at approximately 7:50/pace on a hilly route, and a handful of rainy days walking around town, I quickly came to two realizations: (1) a windproof/waterproof jacket may keep out the rain, but it will soak you from the inside-out no matter how breathable; (2) just use an umbrella for heading out to school and get a running-specific jacket.  Thus, I returned the Mountain Hardwear jacket and decided to look at one of the other three aforementioned jackets. 

Here’s the deal: if you’re a runner, you need to not be so afraid of getting wet while on a run.  You’re going to get wet one way or another.  In the summer, this isn’t a problem; however, in the fall/winter/early spring, you want to make sure that you stay warm while you’re wet.  With this realization, I decided to ditch my absolutely need for a windproof / waterproof jacket.  While the The North Face Stormy Trail jacket seemed like a great option, it doesn’t come with a hood, and here’s the deal: if I’m going to be in conditions that warrant a windproof/waterproof jacket, then I will probably be in conditions in which a hood is important.  If you’re running in a downpour without a hood… it’s as if you aren’t wearing a jacket at all; the water will go through the neck area and to the rest of the body.  The Patagonia Houdini seemed like a great option, but I was unable to get ahold of Patagonia via Facebook and Twitter to ask them questions, and I had a bit of difficulty getting some questions answered via the “chat” feature on their website. 

ENTER IN Arc’teryx. 

When it comes to customer service and interactive social media presence, it’s really hard to do better than Arc’teryx.  Every question I have asked via Twitter and Facebook has been answered within a few hours (depending on the time of day I post), and the folks that run the Twitter handle for Arc’teryx have been extremely helpful in my decision to snag the Squamish Hoody.  Social media customer service is super important—I mean, the chat service on most websites doesn’t work on the iPhone—and it makes a company very accessible to its potential and returning customers.  Arc’teryx’s presence is simply fantastic.

Squamish Hoody

In searching for a running jacket for super windy and/or rainy conditions, I ultimately decided to go with the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody for a few reasons (this information comes from the Arc’teryx website):
  • Lightweight (5.2 oz / 146g)
  •  Compressible – stuffs into its own pocket!
  • Hood with brim
  • Drawcords on the hood and hem
  • Breathable / quick-drying
  • mini-Ripstop textile w/ mechanical stretch
  • permeable PU coating for enhanced wind resistance and temperature regulation
  • DWR (durable water resistant) finish
  • Velcro cuffs – laminated, no less
Here's a brief video that gives an overview of the jacket:

The Reason These Features Are Important To Me / My Experiences

Lightweight and Compressible

This above list may seem a bit long, but these features are important to me.  I want a jacket that is lightweight and not super bulky.  Why?  I don’t want added heat and fatigue due to the weight of a jacket.  Also, I like a running jacket that is compressible so that I can stuff it in my backpack or Camelbak pack.  Why? If you trail run or mountain run, then you are well aware of the fact that the weather is usually cooler and bit more unpredictable the higher you are into the sky.  If you start your run at 5,500ft, and eventually hit 7,000ft + during the run, then you’ll probably want a jacket near the top but may not need it near the bottom.  Also, if you’re a student like me, this jacket can double as a rain jacket on the go!  Just put it into your backpack :-).

When compressed, it fits perfectly on the outside of my Camelbak Marathon Vest!
Pretty compressible!  Fits into its own zip pocket.

Hood and Drawcords

Like I said above, if I need a jacket that is both wind- and water-resistant, then I’ll probably be running in conditions that require a hood.  In all honesty, baseball caps don’t work as well as hoods.  A hood prevents water from pouring down your back, and a hood with a brim pragmatically acts as a baseball cap.  Why do I like drawcords? This is fairly simple: I like a running jacket to fit well.  So far, the drawcords on the hood of the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody are the best around—and trust me, I’ve tried a lot of jackets at REI.  The hood fits my head perfectly, and it doesn’t blow off when I’m running at a face pace in a head wind!  I have another running jacket that does this, and it’s super annoying!  I’m surprised Arc’teryx was able to fit both hood & hem drawcords and keep the jacket so lightweight and compressible.  Well done!

Jacket Technology

As I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this post, I was in the market for a highly wind- and water-resistant jacket.  Completely water-proof jackets, no matter how great the technology, will soak you from the inside-out on long runs or high-output aerobic activities.  I’m fine with getting wet during a run, but I do not want to freeze while I am running.  In this regard, the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody is quite unique. 

I’ve gone a number of runs with the Squamish Hoody (from 4 to 13 miles), and some of these have been in 50 degree, sunny weather to 32 degrees in a downpour to 20 degrees and snowing.  On each of these runs, I’ve felt perfectly comfortable the entire time! 

As I mentioned earlier, this jacket is super breathable, which is why I said it was alive at the beginning of this post.  The key to maximizing the functionality of this jacket is by layering.  Let me bullet-point what I do:
  •  In sunny, calm weather, I only wear a technical t-shirt under the jacket from about 50-45 degrees to 30-25 degrees. 
  • If it’s sunny and windy, I’ll wear a light, long-sleeve technical t-shirt if it is below about 40-35 degrees. 
  • If it’s raining, then it’s above freezing, and I’ll probably only wear a light, technical t-shirt under the jacket.
  • If it’s snowing, then it’s probably below freezing, so I’ll probably wear a light, long-sleeve technical t-shirt under the jacket.
  • If it’s below 20, then I’ll wear some cold compression gear, and I don’t have any at the moment…. So, Arc’teryx, want to send me some to review?? :-).

NOTE: This jacket with a shirt won’t provide enough warmth if you’re not moving in 20-35 degree weather.  This is a running jacket and, thus, provides the perfect warmth while moving or doing high-output activities

In layering properly, I’ve always been extremely comfortable running with this jacket.  In all honesty, I’m surprised at how versatile it is!  I mean, let’s be honest, a jacket that’s perfect from 50 degrees to 20 degrees in windy and rainy and sunny weather?  That’s hard to beat.  So, now that I have discussed the breathability and permeable PU coating (in regards to temperature regulation), I’ll now discuss the other technology features. 

Wind- and Water-Resistant

As for wind- and water-resistance, this jacket fulfills my needs.  It is very wind-resistant, and up-to-date I have not felt the wind penetrate the jacket to the point of being uncomfortable on a run.  Furthermore, the jacket is very water-resistant AND quick-drying.

Not too shabby, eh? I love how the water runs over it and then beads form!  On long runs in a downpour, the jacket will get wet.  As I mentioned above, this happened even to the Mountain Hardwear jacket sporting the Dry-Q Elite (waterPROOF) technology.  But I also mentioned earlier that you need to just accept the fact that you’re going to get wet on some runs.  The Squamish Hoody, though it does get wet, doesn’t get “drenched,” if that makes sense.  Since the jacket is so lightweight and breathable, the jacket will get wet but it feels like it’s not that wet.  When the rain stops, the jacket dries so darn quickly!  On one run, it was downpouring for about 20 minutes at the beginning and the jacket was dry about 20-30 minutes after it stopped raining (oh, and I was still running…).  On another run, it was raining the entire time.  Although I felt a bit wet, I never got cold during the run (it was about 35 degrees).  Interestingly, while the jacket was wet, my technical t-shirt wasn’t that wet when I took off the jacket at home.  After some stretching and a quick bite to eat, I went to grab the jacket to throw it in the drier only to find out that it had dried completely on its own.  Love it! 

Quick video giving an example of how awesome DWR is on the Squamish Hoody...

As an added bonus, it’s breathability and permeable PU-coating doesn’t retain “stench”.  There.  I said it.  My jacket doesn’t stink after running constantly in it.

Velcro Cuffs

This is important.  On one of my runs, it was incredibly windy and I was running directly into the wind for the last 5-6 miles.  The wind wasn’t penetrating the front of my jacket, but it was going through the opening of the sleeves and to my chest.  I used the Velcro cuffs, and the wind was no longer able to go through the sleeves.  In this case, the Velcro cuffs allowed me to stay warm during my run.  Brilliant.


Wow, that was a long review.  Well, I know what I want in a running jacket for windy and rainy conditions, and the Squamish Hoody fulfills all of my needs.  It has the added bonus of looking fashionable, too.  Although Boston has had another atypical winter for 2012, I’ve used this jacket as my winter jacket down to about 28 degrees and with a flannel underneath; granted, I am trying to get my body used to colder temperatures for the purpose of running (so I tend to underdress in the winter).  I’ll also use this jacket as my go-to jacket for school in the spring, too! I really like the this Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody :-)

If I had more money, I would get the Arc’teryx Incendo jacket, too.  If you aren’t worried about getting wet or you live in an area were it doesn’t rain that often, and you don’t care for hoods, then I think the Incendo would be equally as good as the Squamish Hoody.  If I needed a running jacket for pretty cold, snowy conditions, I would probably snag the Arc'teryx Solano jacket.

Other jackets that might fit similar descriptions are TheNorth Face Stormy Trail Jacket, the Patagonia Houdini, and the MountainHardwear Effusion jacket.  My top pick still goes to the Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody because it addresses all of my needs, but the aforementioned jackets might work for you depending on your needs. 

Overall, well done, Arc’teryx, on (in my humble opinion) a perfect lightweight, wind- and water-resistant running jacket.  Given that this is my first piece of Arc’teryx gear, I am hoping to get some more running gear to try in the future!  Great stuff. 


  1. What does the Arc'teryx site mean that the Squamish is for "warm weather activities"? If the squamish has been go to you for temps as low as 20F, does that qualify as "warm weather"?

  2. Great question, Jordan! As I mentioned in the post, the colder it gets, this jacket isn't going to perform well for activities like hiking, trekking, alpine climbing, and rock climbing (that is, activities that in which you aren't moving as quickly); however, this jacket would be GREAT for the aforementioned activities in warmer weather. I can definitely imagine wearing this jacket with only a t-shirt for hiking, trekking, and rock climbing in up to weather in the 60s range, especially of it's rainy and windy. My blogpost is primarily referring to the features of the jacket as they pertain to running. So, you can definitely get away with this jacket in 20 degree weather and some cold gear or a thicker long-sleeve technical T. I heat up quickly, so YMMV.

    I'll update my blogpost tomorrow to reflect your question. Thanks again, man!!!

  3. Thank you for the detailed review! I was debating between the Squamish hoody and the Trino Jersey. I am leaning toward the Squamish now, given that I live in the Northwest where it rains a lot in the winter. The Squamish should give me both moderate rain protection and wind protection.

    1. You know it, Alex! It should be good for both. I recently got the TNF Stormy Trail jacket, and I love it, but it's nowhere near as breathable as the Squamish Hoody.

  4. HI Vagabond running, i'm going to work with my bike and would like to know if i am gonna be okay with the Squamish. I understand that if it rains for 20 min., my clothes are gonna get wet under the jacket. Am i right? Marie (sorry i am french so my english is so-so).