The Macai Jacket is an extremely expensive piece of ski clothing. However, it can be worth it if you have a higher budget or don’t mind spending more for a premium option that will keep you comfortable and dry.
- Where to buy: REI, Amazon, EVO
- Best for: Harsh or extremely cold conditions. Skiers with a high budget who want high-end characteristics.
- Pros: This jacket is one of the highest quality models on the market. It is incredibly stylish, warm, and provides absolutely foolproof weather protection. The comfort is unmatched, as is the durability.
- Cons: One of the most expensive jackets on the market, even for all the different features. It can also be too insulated for warmer days.
- Alternatives: Helly-Hansen Alpha, Outdoor Research Hemispheres, Sabre AR
Why Trust Me
I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I spent ample time researching this jacket, talking to people who used it, and breaking down how it performs in different conditions.
The Arc’teryx Macai is an incredibly well-made jacket from one of the most recognizable brands on the market. Not only does it have a sleek appearance that looks good both on and off the slopes, but its construction and weather resistance are some of the best around. The insulation will keep you warm no matter how cold it gets outside. The Gore-Tex shell is fantastic too. If you can pay the price, there’s no downside here.
As Comfortable as it Gets
Kicking things off, the Macai has excellent comfort. It fits exceptionally well and is snug without being too tight. That’s something I always appreciate in a piece of winter clothing. The style seems tailored and the sleeves are a good length. They protect your arms nicely and aren’t too restrictive for when you need extra flexibility.
The other reason this jacket is so comfortable is its warmth. As with any premium model, the Macai comes packed with wonderful insulation that feels great against your body. Such padding is also packed into susceptible areas, like your torso, to ensure you stay cozy. It also has soft inner fabric and even comes with a fleece patch on the section where the chin meets the shell. It’s those small additions that I truly appreciate.
If there’s one knock here, it’s that there’s no real way to mitigate the jacket’s extreme warmth. The Macai has excellent insulation, but that does come at a cost. It’s likely going to be too much for warmer days or climates. However, you won’t find a better jacket for extreme cold.
Going right off the above section, the Macai is also extremely durable. I expect this an expensive jacket, and am happy to report it can stand up to just about anything. The Gore-Tex Pro Shell is about as waterproof as you can get. Not only is it sturdy, but it’s thick in a way that helps protect against the wind. On top of that, Arc’teryx outfitted the Macai with DWR coating to prevent moisture from building up and soaking through the fabric.
Something else I much appreciate in terms of durable design is that the seams are sealed and the zippers are completely waterproof. That’s the gold standard for a well-known brand like Arc’teryx, but it’s still nice to have. For extra snow protection, you also get a powder skirt, removable hood, and high collar to keep your neck warm on the lift. This has you covered in just about every way.
Of course, when you’re buying an extreme-weather jacket with heavy insulation, you’re not expecting the best ventilation. It simply isn’t needed in below zero temperatures. This jacket definitely isn’t made for warmer days and will cause you to sweat if things do heat up. If you ever need to let some hot air out, you can do it through the long vents on the armpits. Though they are mesh, which lowers airflow, they do a decent job in providing extra breathability.
A Distinguished Style
When it comes to jackets, I also like to look at their style. Many look past physical appearance, but it does matter. The Macai is a well-made and sleek-looking piece of clothing. The lines are clean, there are no extra flaps, and even the zippers blend in with the material. That then mixes with the different low-profile color options to create a striking-yet-subdued jacket you can have on just about anywhere.
Price and Value
Simply put, the Macai jacket is not cheap. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive jackets you will ever see. That’s the reason I can’t quite give it high marks in terms of value. It definitely has the construction and durability needed to last longer than other expensive jackets, but that only gets you so far. If you’re searching for an extreme jacket with longevity it will be worth it. However, if you’re not as serious about skiing, you probably want something much more affordable.
What I Like
A big plus for me with the Macai is the down insulation. It’s incredibly soft and the fact that Arc’teryx placed it in specific areas for maximum warmth is exceptionally nice. Not only that, but I have to give the company high marks for the synthetic insulation they placed in regions that are more likely to get wet or sweaty. That helps you fight dampness in two different ways.
I also need to mention the many different features packed into the jacket. Where many companies only go so far with their higher-end options, the Macai comes with a removable hood and powder skirt, sleeve pass pocket, RECCO reflector, and goggle wipe. There are many different pockets too. All of that adds to the general versatility and increases the jacket’s value.
What I Dislike
By far my biggest gripe with this jacket is the price. It’s incredibly expensive, even when compared to similar models on the market. You’re definitely getting a lot for that tag, but skiers who don’t need the absolute best can get comparable items for much less. That’s especially true for newer riders who aren’t yet sure what style they enjoy.
The other issue for me is the breathability. The jacket’s ventilation just isn’t there, and the mesh armpit vents don’t work as well as similar systems. That’s not a big issue when you’re out in ice-cold areas, but I’m not a fan that you can’t cool down if you need. I would have liked more versatility and options in this area.
The Macai Jacket is durable, comfortable, and also costs a fortune. If you’re someone who wants a premium jacket without paying a hefty price tag, these other models will give you great results:
- Helly-Hansen Alpha – The Helly Hansen Alpha is a tough, well-made jacket that offers strong performance across the board. It’s sturdy, warm, fits well, and is extremely comfortable. On top of that, the insulation is superb and you won’t find yourself getting too chilly even on the coldest days. It has a stylish design and many colors too.
- Outdoor Research Hemispheres – The Hemispheres is a more affordable jacket when compared to the Macai’s high price. Even so, it has a lot going for it. That includes some of the best weather resistance on the market, solid ventilation, and a lightweight design. This definitely isn’t as warm as other jackets, but it’s still versatile and will keep you dry.
- Sabre AR – If you want another premium jacket that, while pricey, isn’t quite as expensive as the Macai, the Sabre AR is a good way to go. This model comes from a well-known brand and has the toughness needed to stick around for many years. It’s durable and warm in a way that’s perfect for in-bounds riders.
Can the insulation be removed?
No. The Macai’s insulation is permanent and cannot be taken out.
Can the Macai be used as a rain jacket?
Yes. The Macai is fully waterproof, which makes it a great option for rainy or wet conditions.
Is the hood permanent?
No. This jacket comes with a removable hood that you can put on or take off as you see fit.
How many pockets are there?
This jacket comes with two zippered hand pockets, a chest pocket, internal mesh dump pocket, internal pocket, and a sleeve pocket.
The Macai is the jacket for skiers who want premium quality no matter the cost. There are many, many winter clothing items in today’s world, but few of them come with the numerous features and excellent quality seen in the Macai. You get warmth, comfort, sturdiness, and weather resistance, all tied up into one attractive package.
As great as this jacket is, it’s never going to be the correct item for skiers who can ride with something cheaper. If you don’t need the high-end construction or spend your time skiing in pleasant, warm conditions, you’d be better off putting your money towards other gear. If you want quality or need the very best protection, this is worth the price.
Joseph Scalise is an avid writer, editor, and snow sports enthusiast who loves to spend his time outdoors. He began his love of writing early on in life and continued to pursue it as he grew older. While his time behind the computer doesn’t get him into the wild unknown as much as he would like, he never misses a chance to head up (or down) a mountain, across a river, or through a lush forest. When he’s not planning new trips, you can always find him typing away on his next project.