A Gore-Tex Arc’teryx Trench for Urban Blade Runners
Arc’teryx is famous for its hardcore hardshells: big, biomorphic, GORE-TEX Pro pieces that, despite their functional focus, are stylish enough for everyday wear. Jackets like the Virgil-approved Alpha SV (an $800 ice-climbing shell) define the brand. When Palace and Arc’teryx collabed this December, the two chose an Alpha SV as the centerpiece of the collection. Because why wouldn’t they? If it’s an Arc jacket, it has to be intense. Or so they say.
I’ve owned Alpha’s over the years. They’re certainly great products. But that doesn’t mean you should get one. For those who love the Arc’teryx approach to functional fashion but aren’t scaling summits, there’s a better day-to-day option.It’s called the Keppel Trench. And while it might seem less high-functioning than shells like the Alpha, for the kinds of things you do within city limits, it’s actually more functional. From my experience, it’s a super dope commuter coat, and back when offices were a thing, I’d have it with me almost every day - sometimes for rain, sometimes for snow, and sometimes just to style.
Why should the Keppel be on your coat rack? Allow me to explain.
Starting from the top, let’s state the obvious: unlike many Arc jackets, the Keppel is not meant for the trail. Cut in an extended 3/4 length, the coat is part of Arc’teryx’s “Everyday” collection, a lifestyle-focused line that adapts the brand’s extreme technologies into casual silhouettes.
The silhouette is, of course, your classic trench coat - dignified, understated, and oh-so-drapey, but with an Arc’teryx twist. A rigid nylon outer gives it just enough structure to look traditional, but its low-drag surface and matte tones give it a modernist edge. Typically, trench coats like Burberry’s famous gabardine slicker are good in the rain. But because it’s Arc’teryx, the Keppel has to take it a step further.
The tech tapped here is a three-layer waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX textile. On the outside, there’s a burly 90-denier nylon with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. On the inside, there are taped seams galore. Snap cuffs, underarm gussets, and a PU-coated main double zip round out the package.
The net of all that is a long coat that’s waterproof past any reasonable level you’d need in the city. In some respects, the Keppel’s materials package actually overshoots what’s used on some of Arc’s ski shells. Seriously. I’ve gotten splashed by a bus in the middle of a rainstorm and there was a line across my pants where the jacket ended. That’s not the main reason I think this longer GORE coat is more functional for city-living than athletic shells like the Alpha, but that’s not something you forget.
My major push for the Keppel over Arc’teryx’s mountain shells for most city rats is because of its portability. Past the fact that wearing a brawny GORE Pro construction around the city is asking for sweated-out everything, trying to pack down a fully-articulated, zipper-covered sports shell is like trying to fold a fitted sheet. Eventually, you just give up and stuff it down to wherever it’ll fit. The Keppel, by contrast, is a giant sheet of GORE-TEX with old-world styling and creature comforts attached - a poncho with panache, if you will.
I found that I could wear it to the gym in the mornings over workout clothes, pack it down enough to stuff into a locker, then throw it over work clothes without it looking overfolded. Ditto for stuffing it into a tote bag on days where there’s rain in the forecast. Sure, there are lighter jackets made for this exact purpose. But the problem is they act like it. They get wrinkled fast, are hard to style, and typically, aren’t even that waterproof (think: that ratty windbreaker you had at the bottom of your college backpack).
Meanwhile, the Keppel brings all the function that Arc’teryx is known for to a stylish, protective, and surprisingly agile format. It would be nicer with a removable hood - but that’s the price you pay for the classic trench look. I love wearing mine with white Salomon XT-6’s and straight-cut Gramicci pants for a fashion/outdoors crossover that doesn’t look like camping cosplay. I’ve also dressed it up with a white button-up, wool trousers, and a chest bag - half British Mod, half Blade Runner, 100% fresh.
Arc’teryx is hot for a reason: the brand’s function-derived forms represent some of the best-looking garments in all the Great Outdoors. However, if your idea of trekking is going to the bodega two blocks over, I’d recommend giving the Keppel a try instead of going straight for Arc’s high-altitude hardshells.
Keep up with Alex Rakestraw at his outerwear review site: coatchecking.co/coatcheck.