In my mad dash to get myself and my equipment sorted for the Godzone Adventure Race back in March on three days notice, I knew I needed to organise a few key things in particular. I needed good lights for night time, comfy shoes for happy feet and some sort of jacket that would guarantee I wouldn’t get cold and wouldn’t be a burden to carry throughout the race. After some detailed research I came across the Arc’teryx Nuclei FL jacket. I am someone who feels the cold and subsequently someone who will stop and at no end to avoid this feeling. So I was putting a lot of trust into a jacket I had never tried before and was about to pay good money towards. But everything I read online suggested it ticked the boxes.
To recap, the boxes I personally wanted to ticked for a Godzone jacket (and any subsequent fast paced adventure in the elements) were:
- Warmth: this was priority number one. When you are physically exhausted your ability to regulate your body temperature is compromised (hot feels hotter, cold feels colder). I felt my performance relied on not getting cold just as much as my enjoyment of the event would.
- Breathability: there is nothing worse than wearing a warm garment, then stripping it off as soon as the heart rate gets up because it feels like you are in a sauna and the sweat just accumulates against your skin.
- Lightweight: When carrying gear for 5-6 days non-stop, the weight starts to gain a louder voice as you go. Generally speaking, a ‘puffer style jacket’ might often be considered a luxury item in an adventure race or fast expedition.
- Drying and odour performances: Ideally I wanted something that could get wet but not stay wet. I also felt it was only fair on my team mates that if I was racing for days without a shower and wearing the same garment along the way, I wasn’t leaving a trail of stench in my wake.
- Durability: with plenty of plants, rocks and equipment that could rip your clothing and skin in an instant, I needed something that would stand up to abrasion.
Now, I am certainly someone who does his research on purchases like jackets. I was also someone who didn’t have much time to make a decision given I had a few days to get myself organised to get to the Godzone (see previous blog post). So it was probably partly my diligence in researching my options and partly just a bit of luck (I told myself that if Bivouac Outdoor stock the item, it has got to be good), but either way, I purchased the Arcteryx Nuclei FL jacket and ticked every single box!
Warmth was instantly obvious when I put it on. Breathability became obvious when we rode a big hill on our mountain bikes and all I had to do was unzip to my chest and I was comfortable under the extra exertion. At around 300 grams and able to pack down small, it was barely noticeable when tucked away in my pack and not in use. As expected, it got wet a few times (pack rafting was so much fun) but seemed to dry super quickly when given the chance or when hung over the outside of my pack during a trekking stage to air it out. It did not smell at all (and I haven’t even washed it since as it still doesn’t stink after 128 hours of racing and a further 2 months of adventures since!). Finally, it still looks new even though it is far from it, so to me the durability box, while still in need of many more adventures to truly test, is so far looking very good.
The bonus for me was the way the fitted jacket sat so comfortably and cleanly under my backpack, race bib and rain jacket at times. Having been designed with climbers in mind who wear harnesses and use ropes etc, it is really noticeable when adventure racing just how clean and tidy the fit of the jacket is.
So if anyone has some winter missions lined up where traveling fast, light and warm is important, you can take my word that the Arc’teryx Nuclei FL jacket is worth your consideration. To check it out for yourself, click here.