Arc'teryx makes some of the best outerwear available, and the Arc'teryx Macai does not disappoint. It is a wonderful ski jacket that looks good and is built to last. This jacket combines the unparalleled warmth of down insulation with the protection of a Gore-Tex shell. It comes up short for features and ventilation, but that probably won't deter those on the hunt for an extremely warm, waterproof, and well-styled piece from a high-end manufacturer.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Arc'teryx Macai on March 6, 2022, with additional information that analyzes value versus performance and suggests similar jackets that may better suit your needs and budget.
Arc'teryx Macai Review
Cons: Super expensive, too warm for some applications
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|Pros||Impeccable quality, clean lines, very warm, excellent weather protection||Excellent performance in every category, durable||Completely weather resistant, good ventilation, freeride style||Weather resistant, good vents, plenty of features||Inexpensive, moderately weather resistant, warm enough|
|Cons||Super expensive, too warm for some applications||More snug fit than other options||Expensive, too heavy and warm for most backcountry use||Hanging liner makes it a bit warm for a shell, fit isn't perfect||Bland style, poor ventilation, generic fit|
|Bottom Line||This top of the line ski jacket keeps you warm, dry, and comfortable, for a small fortune||This excellent resort ski jacket nails all performance aspects to deserve a spot at the top of your wish list||A durable, weatherproof jacket that wins our favor among downhill ski shells on the market||A high-performance shell at a great price||An average-performance ski jacket with decent features at an affordable price|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Macai||Helly Hansen Alpha...||Arc'teryx Sabre Jacket||REI Co-op First Cha...||REI Co-op Powderbou...|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Macai||Helly Hansen Alpha...||Arc'teryx Sabre Jacket||REI Co-op First Cha...||REI Co-op Powderbou...|
|Main Fabric||N40p-X Gore-Tex||2-layer stretch polyester||N80p-X Gore-Tex||2-layer Gore-Tex||Nylon|
|Insulation||Coreloft 100, Coreloft Compact, and 750 fill goose down||LifaLoft synthetic||Thin flannel backer||Recycled polyester lining||60g polyester sleeves, 80g polyester body|
|Pockets||2 handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 1 chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 internal chest||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 internal mesh, 1 sleeve||2 hand, 1 sleeve, 1 internal||2 handwarmer, 2 chest, 1 internal chest, 1 sleeve||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest, 1 sleeve, 1 internal zippered chest, 1 internal mesh|
|Weight (size large)||2.64 lbs||2.56 lbs||1.60 lbs||1.76 lbs||1.81 lbs|
|Water Resistance||3L Gore-Tex Pro Shell||Helly Tech Professional||Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex||2-layer waterproof breathable laminate|
|Hood||Adjustabe and Removable||Adjustable and removable||Adjustable||Adjustable||Adjustable|
|Cuff construction||Velcro||Interior stretchy wrist gaiters and external velcro cuffs||Velcro||Velcro||Interior wide hook-and-loop adjustments and external velcro|
|Powder skirt||Yes, removable||Yes||Yes||Yes, removable||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Arc'teryx now makes this jacket with bluesign approved materials, which is a certification that denotes that they sustainably produced the product.
This down jacket is very warm and weather resistant but somewhat lacking features. For those who need a warm jacket for the harshest winters and can afford the high price tag, the Macai is appropriate.
The Macai is one of the warmest ski jackets we have ever tested. It is the only jacket in our review to use down insulation, which is packed into the areas of the body that need it the most, like the torso. In areas more susceptible to water or sweat, the jacket uses synthetic insulation, which maintains its warming capabilities when wet. The result is an extremely warm ski jacket fit for the coldest days of winter.
Such warmth may be needed by skiers who run cold or those who live and ski in the coldest areas of North America. If you ski in a warmer environment like Lake Tahoe, this jacket will be too warm for most days.
The outer shell of the Macai is made with Gore-Tex Pro Shell, which we found to be waterproof to the extreme. It is thicker than other hardshell materials, which helps it cut through the wind. Arc'teryx has a great DWR coating, which keeps the water running off the jacket and prevents it from soaking the outer fabric. All seams are sealed, and all zippers are waterproof, which we expect from this manufacturer.
A powder skirt, a well-fitting hood that easily covers a helmeted head, and a high collar all help on cold and snowy days. Still, the Macai is vulnerable to liquid water because of the down insulation components, which lose their loft when wet. People who ski in wet climates know that water gets everywhere, and some water penetration is inevitable. That will only happen to the Macai in extremely wet scenarios.
Fit and Comfort
The Macai is sleek and well-fitting, but it isn't too tight either. It is more tailored than other options in the review, but there are still better-fitting jackets. The sleeves and hem are great lengths, and we didn't feel any restrictions through our range of motion tests. Fit and comfort go hand in hand, and the Macai's down insulation is very comfortable against the body. The inner fabric is soft and gentle as well. There is a soft fleece patch where the chin brushes against the shell.
Ventilation is not this jacket's strong suit, but in the frigid conditions it is built for, ventilation probably won't be your highest priority. That said, since the jacket is so warm, you might find yourself needing to dump some heat on occasion. Long armpit vents with mesh backing will get the job done when you do. We wish the vents didn't have any mesh, which inhibits airflow. During testing, we often had to unzip the main front zipper to get the ventilation we needed.
The style of this jacket is neutral yet classy and refined. We would expect nothing less at such a high price point. The Macai has clean lines, zippers that blend in with the fabric, and no fabric flaps that get in the way of a sleek look. This well-styled jacket is among the best looking that we have tested. The muted color options help you blend in with the crowd, but the Arc'teryx logo will help you stand out. We do wish that the Macai came in some brighter color options.
The Macai has enough features to make a day on the slopes easy to deal with. Both the hood and the powder skirt are removable, adding versatility and customization to the design. It also features a sleeve pass pocket, a goggle wipe, and a RECCO reflector. One external chest pocket is hidden underneath the Arc'teryx logo, and we found that it was extremely difficult to access while wearing ski gloves. As a result, we didn't end up using it very often.
Should You Buy the Macai?
The Arc'teryx Macai is one of the most expensive jackets we have ever reviewed. But the bomber construction, protective down insulation, and legendary Arc'teryx warranty all ensure this jacket a long lifetime. In terms of dollars per year, we think this jacket will cost just a little more than other less expensive jackets that won't last as long. That little extra cost per year also gets you an extremely warm, weather resistant, and comfortable jacket. If you can make the investment, we think it will pay off in the long run.
What Other Ski Jackets Should You Consider?
The Arc'teryx Macai is a tremendously warm, comfortable, and weather resistant jacket – if you ski in a cold climate this jacket is the warmest in our review. If instead you move fast in the skintrack or boot pack then a jacket with less insulation and more ventilation, like the hardshell Flylow Lab Coat is more appropriate. If you want the warmth, but appreciate a complete set of features, the award-winning Helly Hansen Alpha LifaLoft is a great choice.
— Jeremy Benson
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