The Hiker’s Jacket

The definition of “softshell” has always been fuzzy and ambiguous. And these days it means pretty much whatever a brand wants it to mean. If it’s a shell and it’s softish and it’s not full-on waterproof, it can be tossed in the giant box called softshell. With that kind of fluidity, we as buyers and users need to pay particular attention both to our needs and a garment’s intended purpose, so as not to underbuy or overtech.

The Arc’teryx Tenquille Hoody is a superb generalist for three-season use and thus might be considered a bit of a departure from the jackets you’d likely expect to see from the Canada über-brand. Where most of Arc’s pieces are mission critical and designed very specifically for alpine climbing, backcountry skiing, etc., with all the concomitant features you need for those pursuits, the Tenquille is engineered for a little less acute activities, specifically, hiking and trekking.

And for those, the Tenquille is absolutely spot on. The fit is looser than Arc’teryx’s “athletic” label would suggest, but that’s fine—it’s better suited for the lower-intensity days, anyway. With that generous cut, the Tenquille can be worn over a light mid-layer on cool to cold days or just over a base layer with room to roam. It fits nicely under a pack, with the hand pockets still accessible, and there’s a slight drop tail that doesn’t ride up when you’ve fastened a hip belt.

The water-resistant coating a low-profile hood will keep you comfortable up to torrent-level rains, so long as you aren’t out on the goop all day, at which point its DWR might get overwhelmed. Windy days are no prob — the front and back panels block gusts well, and there are air-permeable side panels to help shed heat.

So, how far can you push this generalist? Pretty far. It’s suitable for all-round outdoor use, climbing, mountain biking, spring skiing, and backpacking. What overwhelms it are highly aerobic activities, when a good head of steam can warm up the interior faster than the side panels can vent. The drop-tail adds extra protection for cycling, but the hood is lower profile and won’t fit over a helmet. These are limits, of course, but I think you’d be pushing yours before you found them.

$175 • BUY

Read more from Steve Casimiro at his blog, Adventure Journal.

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