Arc’teryx Nuclei SV Parka Review

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The Arc’teryx Nuclei SV Parka was created with purpose. This ultimate severe-weather belay jacket is lightweight, packable and offers amazing protection from the elements. The intended use of this amazing parka is as a belay jacket for ice climbing. It provides extreme warmth during static activities. While Michigan’s ice climbing season was a bit of a bust due to repeated bursts of warm weather, I really put this parka to the test in other ways.

The serious cold requires serious warmth. Packable, light, and efficient, the Nuclei SV is the warmest of Arc’teryx synthetic insulated parkas. Varying layers of Coreloft™ insulation are strategically placed to provide maximum warmth in the places you need it the most. The light, tough Arato™ 15 shell is breathable, windproof, and repels light moisture. And did I mention durable? This is one tough jacket with incredible warmth. I ordered the parka with the Grotto Toque, so while this review focuses mostly on the parka, the hat also deserves honorable mention with it’s feathery-soft feel and cuddly warmth.

Arc’teryx Attention to Details

The Nuclei SV is incredibly lightweight weighing in at only 1 lb., 4.5 oz (580g). Arc’teryx made this possible by focusing on what was important and leaving out unnecessary bells and whistles. The parka comes with a ultra-light stuff sack for ultimate packability. From the wrist bands to the pockets, Arc’teryx was wise in their selection of materials and eliminated unnecessary hook and loop, bungies, snaps, etc. With 5 pockets, there is plenty of space for everything you need to stash. The pockets are conveniently located with two fleece-lined hand pockets and a chest pocket on the outside of the coat. On the inside, there are two large pockets that are great for keeping your climbing gloves warm while belaying. I love this feature!

Stuff Sack Included for ultimate packability
Roomy inside pocket
Fleece Lined pockets for warmth

The stretch-knit cuffs on the Arc’teryx Nuclei SV are super soft and have adequate stretch to don the jacket while wearing gloves. They were a superior factor in maintaining warmth in the sleeve and keeping out the wind and snow. The bottom hem of the jacket has a draw-cord to bring it in close around your bottom. In the front, there is a two way zipper with a snap at the bottom hem. This allows you to unzip the bottom to accommodate your climbing harness but snap the bottom of the jacket around the harness to keep out the cold. In my opinion, this is an essential feature on a extreme-weather belay parka that many other manufactures neglect.

Soft, simple cuffs shed wind and snow
Snap the bottom around your harness to keep the heat in.

The Performance Hood on the Arc’teryx Nuclei SV Parka

A warm parka is only as good as it’s hood. The versatile adjustability of the Nuclei’s hood is fantastic. The hood has two adjustment points. The first is on the back of the hood. Through the use off an adjustable stretch cord, you can adjust how “deep” the tubular hood is on your head. There will be times when you don’t want the hood to obstruct your peripheral vision, especially during belay activities. Additionally, there are adjustments around the circumference of the hood opening. A helmet fits nicely under the hood and the front adjustments allow you to close the wind gaps created by the helmet. Another great feature in superior warmth!

Fits snugly over my climbing helmet.

The Grotto Toque: A Perfect Companion to the Nuclei SV Parka

When I ordered the Nuclei SV Parka, I also ordered Arc’teryx Grotto Toque in Arctic Silk/Warm Stone. Aside from being a fine looking accessory to the the parka, it is versatile and warm. It is difficult to show in a picture the softness and quality of this hat. When the Grotto Toque arrived, I couldn’t believe how gently stretchy it was. It fits perfect on my smaller head, but my husband wanted to try it on and it also fit neatly around his large head without looking over-stretched. I’ve been wearing it constantly for a few months now and haven’t found that it is getting stretched out and the yarn looks brand new!

100% recycled materials make up the Grotto Toque. The double fold at the hat band keeps your head warm where you need it, ears and forehead, but allows for moisture and excess heat to escape. When the weather gets brutal, it is a deep enough hat to pull it down around the back of your neck and ears without wind gaps. The gentle 4-way stretch of this hat allows for it to fit to your head perfectly without being too tight or too loose. It is the most comfortable winter hat I own and quickly became my new favorite. The embroidered logo and abstract Arc’teryx bird design add to the great style of the Grotto Toque. Priced at $55, it is the perfect companion to the Nuclei SV Parka.

Technical Specs:

  • Nuclei SV Parka
    • Windproof
    • Durable
    • Warm and comfortableStretch-knit cuffsAdjustable hem drawcord
    • Two layers of Coreloft™ Continuous insulation at front, back, and upper arms for added warmth
    • Single layer of Coreloft™ Continuous insulation at underarms, lower arm, sides, and hood for breathable warmth
    • DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish repels moisture
    • Helmet compatible StormHood™ provides full coverage without impacting visibility
    • Includes stuff sack with webbing loop to clip to a harness
    • Two hand pockets with zippers, 5 pockets total
    • Colors Available: Men-Graphite and Lamyre, Womens-Boxcar
    • Men’s sizes available: XS-XXL
    • Women’s sizes available:  XXS-XXL
  • Grotto Toque
    • Size: One size
    • 100% recycled polyester materials
    • Embroidered logo
    • 7  fun color variations available to fit every style

Stay Warm. Stay Focused.

The Arc’teryx Nuclei SV (severe-weather) Parka is designed with the extreme weather belayer in mind. When focus is essential, you need a parka that will keep you protected, dry and warm and Arc’teryx nail it with this one. At camp and on the shores of wintery Lake Michigan, this coat excelled in every way I could think to test it. Biting wind with light rain was no challenge for this parka. It is made of durable materials that withstood walks through brushy paths and cold mornings at winter camp.

Arc’teryx kept the user design simple while really focusing on the importance of keeping this coat lightweight and warm. The varied levels of insulation throughout the design keep you warm where you really need it (front, back, upper arms) and allows for heat escape in other area (underarms, sides, lower arms, hood). The genius design allowed for awesome temperature regulation and prevented moisture buildup.

Arc’teryx prices this jacket at $400. It is an exceptional value for the ultimate in warmth and protection in a packable lightweight product. It is sized a little roomy to accommodate a mid-layer climbing jacket. Additionally, it can easily be donned and doffed while still wearing your gloves. For more info on the jacket or if you would like to check out the Nuclei SV Parka for yourself, visit

Superior warmth at camp
Protection from the wind
Sara Fillman: Sara is an avid ultra-marathoner and outdoor adventurer. Living in Michigan, Sara has ample opportunities for outdoor sports during all seasons. When not open water kayaking on the Great Lakes or backpacking in some distance mountains, she can be found ice climbing in Norther Michigan at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. She is constantly looking for the next big adventure.
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