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Arc’teryx Ceres Jacket - The Perfect Multi-Use Cold Weather Jacket?
On the misery scale, few things can trump the discomfort that comes from belaying a slow moving partner during frigid conditions. That heat-sapping cold not only makes it difficult to climb effectively when it’s your turn to get on the sharp end, but it also makes it challenging to stay focused on belaying. After all, who hasn’t quietly cursed a sloth-like leader while simultaneously dreaming of warm-weather climbing in Thailand.

Arc’teryx Ceres Jacket

There is a relatively simple solution - just use a proper belay parka. But while there are a number of excellent belay jackets for less extreme weather, few exist with the warmth necessary for more extreme conditions.

Thankfully, the new Arc’teryx Ceres jacket is specifically designed for such hostile weather; this jacket is a heat-trapping monster.

Ok, let’s get some basic stuff out of the way; this jacket is made by Arc’teryx, which means the quality and the attention to detail is unmatched. Now let’s look at the other features that make this garment special.
While synthetic insulations have improved significantly, they still can’t match the warmth, compressibility, low weight and durability of high quality down. Maybe that’s why Arc’teryx has stuffed the Ceres jacket with 225 grams of 850 fill power European grey goose down. Arc’teryx should also be commended for not trying to use down with a higher claimed fill power, something that many experts in the industry believe can only be noticed in the testing lab. While down is the primary insulation, Arc’teryx employs its own Coreloft synthetic insulation on the main zipper windflap, the exterior chest pocket and around the edge of the hood for extra protection against frost and moisture. Box wall construction ensures all this insulation remains uncompressed (and effective) and the Windstopper shell fabric offers excellent breathability and wind protection.
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A roomy hood accommodates hats and helmets

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Fully adjustable hood for protection from the elements.

By now it’s clear that the Ceres is well constructed and employs exceptional materials, but what sets this jacket apart from other belay jackets are the thoughtful small details. The hood can accommodate almost any headwear and cinches tight in windy conditions, but doesn’t restrict vision or movement. Two large interior mesh pockets are perfect for keeping spare gloves warm, while the exterior hand-warmer pockets and chest pocket provide accessible storage. Finally, a small interior zippered pocket is perfect for small valuables, and Arc’teryx has thoughtfully girth hitched a small stuff-sack to an interior loop (beside the mesh pocket) ensuring the sack won’t get lost when the jacket is deployed – smart. Other things that I particularly liked about the Ceres include the soft low-profile wrist cuffs (easier to use with glove systems) and the jacket’s overall understated aesthetic (more on this later).
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Large chest pocket for important essentials.

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Interior pockets for extra strorage.

So, where would I use this jacket? Ice climbing is the obvious first thought, but with its low weight and high compressibility, I would also not hesitate taking the Ceres with me as a cold-cragging belay jacket. Seriously, this jacket is sufficiently oversized that you can just throw it on over as many (or few) layers and stay toasty till the next redpoint attempt. And at the end of the climbing day, it’ll easily keep you warm and comfortable when you’re prepping dinner at camp.
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Low-profile cuff for easy layerying.

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Two-way zipper for belaying and venting.

Now remember what I had said about the jacket’s overall understated aesthetic. Here’s where I was going with that. The Ceres is pleasingly unburdened with dubious “outdoor” features, ensuring that it can easily transition into more urban environments without attracting too many odd looks. Don’t underestimate this last point; it’s nice to have an outdoor jacket that’s this functional, versatile and warm, and also allows you to avoid the clichéd shoulder-badged polar-explorer-look that has somehow infested so many urban centres.

This is perhaps the perfect multi-use cold weather jacket.

You can check out the Ceres jacket at Arc'teryx's website or in person at one of their numerous boutique stores including the new Arc'teryx shop in downtown Toronto.
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 35 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid-80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.