Several years ago in a ski shop in Juneau, Alaska, a very informed sales clerk and all around awesome lady introduced me to her favorite ski layer. We’d been talking about shells when she disappeared into the back of the shop to grab her own personal jacket, well worn and gently dirt stained. It was obviously cherished. We chatted about its features, pros/cons, and fit. I tried it on for size, and then put a note-to-self in my phone to look into this jacket at another time.
Though the Arc’teryx Women’s Scimitar Jacket has been almost completely redesigned since that day in AK, the current version stands out as a near perfect shell for backcountry skiing and other winter endeavors.
Made of three-layer GORE-TEX Pro fabric throughout the garment, this jacket is built for ski touring in the Pacific Northwest. It does a great job on wet and heavy days, but I would leave it in my pack on the uphill if skiing on a warmer day. The fabric itself doesn’t breathe as well as a softshell (of course) but two big watertight pit zips make dumping heat easy. Like most ski specific jackets, it has a powder skirt. What I like about this one it’s made of lightweight material and not bulky — thus useful on deep snow days but not overly done. I found this ideal since seventy percent of the time I wear bibs and don’t need a powder skirt. The skirt has a simple “Slide’n Loc” system for integration with compatible Arc’teryx pants: a good solution for creating a snowsuit.
With six pockets (two hand pockets, external chest, internal chest, upper sleeve, and an internal dump pocket) the Scimitar has plenty of places to stuff your snacks and cold hands, yet personally I never need that many pockets, so it would almost be nice to lose a few to save weight. What’s more, too many of my women’s clothes have pockets that are only good for chapstick and a credit card. Scimitar follows suite with a number of pockets being quite small.
The theory behind internal dump pockets is great. They’re supposed to be good for skins, a Platypus of water, goggles, etc. However, in function, I’ve found that dump pockets in women’s jackets tend to be too small for most of these items (policy at WildSnow is we like drop-dump pockets, but they need to be large as they’re for things like mittens, climbing skins and water bottles).
My favorite part about this jacket is the high neck collar. Being able to bury and protect my neck and the lower half of my face is essential. With or without the hood on (helmet or not), the collar fits well and isn’t too restricting. Initially the fabric in front of my mouth and chin was a little stiff and abrasive, but it has since loosened up a bit. Still, I wouldn’t mind if that section was made out of a softer (maybe stretchy) material. One posterior and two front hood cinchers help keep the wet out and bring the hood down when not wearing a helmet.
Fit: I’m 5’7” and weigh around 135 lbs. I have a long torso and arms. This jacket fits me nicely. Not too baggy, but still long where it matters. Pictured is a size small, but I think that for my dimensions a medium would do well too.
Women’s Arc’teryx Scimitar Jacket on sale here.