Arc'teryx Sentinel AR - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, powder skirt non-removable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Arc'teryx is known for consistently producing some of the best weather-resistant gear on the market, and the Sentinel AR truly fits this mold. This jacket was in a league of its own here against jackets that performed similarly in other areas. We also found the features of this jacket to be a perfect mix between resort features and the vetted simplicity of many backcountry-specific products. For us, the slightly stiff feel of the 3L construction of this shell was quickly forgotten when put to the test. This jacket seals out wind and moisture in a streamlined and functional style. We also received many compliments on the color and slightly tapered cut of the Sentinel AR.
The Sentinel AR, like many Arc'teryx products, is second to none in weather resistance. The heavier DWR treated 3L Gore-Tex shell cut out wind and kept us dry for hours on end with its 28,000mm waterproof rated ability. This material feels burly and consistently beaded moisture all day long. The fully taped seams and zippers taped in instead of sewed eliminate the potential for leaks. Additionally, the Arc'teryx specific water-resistant "Watertight" zippers on all closures and pockets help keep you and your belongings drier longer.
The oversized helmet-compatible hood feels bombproof when quickly cinched down with exterior drawcords on the collar and back of the hood. The location of these adjustments means you do not have to remove your gloves to adjust them quickly. We find that the high collar comfortably zips up and protects our face well even if we aren't wearing a buff. Additionally, this function allows us to adjust the hood to an appropriate tightness even without a helmet underneath. At the base of the jacket, an adjustable hem and snug-fitting powder skirt keeps snow and wind out.
Comfort and Fit
We find that this jacket is true to size and fits well as a shell, leaving just enough room for one or two insulating layers to fit comfortably. The size of the hood is also comfortable, fitting well over helmets with the two drawcords allowing for a custom fit. The slight taper of this jacket is flattering but does not restrict movement and leaves plenty of room around the hips. The cut also leaves room in the shoulders, which can often be a tight spot in women's specific cuts. The flannel backer on the Gore-Tex Sentinel AR shell sits softly against the skin and prevents any stickiness or clamminess.
We did find the Gore-Tex to feel initially stiff, but then found it did not restrict our movement unless we really stuffed the jacket full of layers. Part of this is due to the articulated elbow sewing and gusseted armpits of the jacket, a smart adjustment for the rigid, durable fabric from the Arc'teryx folks.
There isn't too much to say about the warmth of this jacket, as its shell design also means the Sentinel AR does not have any additional insulation. However, the flannel backer provides a minimal extra layer compared to some other shells, and we found the excellent windproof qualities of this material greatly improved our warmth when paired with an insulating layer.
The Sentinel AR does not have any insulation in the way to prevent heat and moisture from reaching the breathable Gore-Tex membrane. We found that we could begin working hard and that the jacket allowed us to do so and let our heat escape as we began to exert more energy while bootpacking.
While the powder skirt is not removable, it does connect to the body of the shell with mesh, which we find provides minimal increased airflow. To really increase airflow and keep the sweat at bay, we reached for the gaping, open pit zips, which provide great relief. The large pit zips don't have a mesh lining, so airflow is maximized. We find this to be a crucial aspect of shell ski jackets, and the Sentinel doesn't disappoint.
Where the Sentinel AR really nails it in its slightly tapered cut and longer hemline. It looks and feels refined in a sea of boxy, less flattering ski jackets. It feels like the perfect balance between a feminine freeride look and a functional ski shell. Combined with taped, matching zippers and a wide range of muted to bright color options, you'll stand out ripping around the hill and town. We received many compliments on this shell.
The most stand-out features on this jacket are the strategically located pockets. A tall and narrower interior drop pocket kept goggles, skins, or snacks smoothly against our frame, and a small, stretchy, thin interior zip pocket kept valuables tight. Additionally, the hand pockets are located slightly higher on the torso, which allows for easy access even if you are wearing a pack. This was great for deep days when we wanted to carry avalanche rescue equipment or extra layers and lunch.
The powder skirt with mesh functions adequately, but we wish it could snap away or, even better, be removable. Here there is also the interesting "Slide'n'Loc" feature, which connects pants to the inside of the powder skirt. However, we could not evaluate its function as it is only compatible with matching Arc'teryx pants.
You get what you pay for with this jacket. We love how secure this jacket makes you feel from the elements, and how its sleek design can transition to backcountry use. If you are in the market to spend big, you will certainly not be disappointed with the quality of this jacket, but there are other options that perform almost as well at a fraction of the price. That being said, you may make up for the expense in the years that this jacket lasts you, as it seems extremely durable. You may also be able to fill two roles with this jacket if you are also looking for an occasional backcountry hardshell.
If you are looking for a high-end, top-of-the-line hardshell jacket and are ready to invest like it, the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR might just be for you. Both its materials and construction give it a bombproof feel, helping you seize on free refills of powder on storm days. Its sleek construction stands out on and off the ski hill, too, in a good way. If the price tag is not for you, there are many other comparable options in this review. However, if skiing is your life and you are ready to make an outerwear investment, then the Sentinel AR is worth it.
— Jacqueline Kearney
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