The Arc'teryx ACMG Guide Jacket
In the field, equipment makes all the difference in how things unfold. When the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) approached Arc'teryx to design a guide jacket, it was a personal challenge. Not a business decision, not an opportunity for a public alignment, but rather an honor and a privilege, like being invited on a trip by a respected friend.
Guides are the best measure of how well a jacket performs over time. The aim is always to develop the most efficient and hard wearing product possible, and personalize it to the user. The ACMG jacket presented some very specific needs that required design solutions outside the realm of recreational, and that was exciting.
The process began by assembling components from other designs into a prototype that could be field-tested; this is how the collaboration began – with a dialogue between our teams and the guides: about fabric, features, function, and it carried through several prototypes, brainstorming sessions, and input from many people. Research and development looked into new fabric solutions, design people searched for pocket and hood solutions, the pattern department helped engineer fit and form.
From that dialogue, the shape of the ACMG Jacket took form. The starting point was a design with the most articulation to provide generous room for dynamic action and multiple layers to move within the shell, covering all seasons of use. The hardest wearing GORE-TEX® fabric, N80p-X Pro, built to withstand prolonged field time and challenging conditions.
Pit zippers were a debate, but in the end were included to make the jacket more versatile. The group decided on a DropHood™ configuration as the most functional, because a separate hood and collar has the flexibility of full neck protection without the hood up. One innovation here is the seamless top of the collar; eliminating stitching there inhibits sweat and body oils from penetrating into the fabric, greatly increasing its lifespan and performance. High visibility flashing on the hood was a must for work with helicopters.
And then, the pockets. High chest pockets work with packs and harnesses. That's not much different than traditional alpine pieces. However, integrating a radio pocket that pleased testers was perhaps the greatest design challenge. A unique system evolved; in addition to a tapered bottom that cradles the radio, there are two internal antenna slots, plus a secondary zipper opening to the pocket with two-way sliders that can close around the antenna in any placement. Not bad.
A couple of other features of note are the molded zipper garages that house chest pocket zippers in the closed position and HemLock™ inserts to keep the jacket hem secured. But ultimately, the end result is a jacket that meets the varied needs of Canadian mountain guides, winter and summer, from coast to coast. The end result for Arc'teryx is a wealth of new knowledge, a rewarding relationship and the opportunity to provide a valuable community with something they can count on.