Arc'teryx Ceres SV Parka Review

Arc'teryx Ceres Jacket at Camp Muir
When I heard Arc'teryx was starting to make big down jackets and parkas I knew I had to get my hands on one. As an engineering student, I don't get much time off except for summer  and winter break and its hard to test such warm jackets in the middle of summer.  Luckily, I live fairly close to Mt. Rainier which is a perfect mountain to test the Arc'teryx Ceres.

I have the original Ceres Jacket before it was revised as the Ceres SV Parka. The main change besides the name is the hood area which instead of using the standard cord locks on the hood is now a Cohaesive™ hood adjustment which is easier to use with gloves and mittens. 15 more grams of down were also added to the jacket (approx. 5% additional down). Overall the Ceres Jacket and the Ceres SV parka are almost identical, so my experiences in the Ceres Jacket are almost identical to that of the Ceres SV Parka.

The Ceres SV Parka uses 40 denier plain weave GORE® WINDSTOPPER® fabric on the outside of the parka while using a 30 denier 100% nylon inner fabric called Arato™.  The Ceres SV parka uses 240 grams of 850 fill  down (compared to 225g to the older Ceres jacket). All down garments made by Arc'teryx use down composite mapping, which involves a combination of down and Coreloft (Arc'teryx's proprietary synthetic,polyester, insulation). Synthetic insulation excels over down in moisture prone areas because of it's hydrophobic properties. This is why Arc'teryx uses synthetic insulation in high moisture areas such as the: hood, collar, hemlines and cuffs. By placing the right type of insulation in it's most advantageous place,it creates an insulating garment that will keep performing at it's best in the most variable conditions.

Down Composite Mapping
I have included a table below which conveniently displays some of the most popular down jackets and parkas made by Arc'teryx. The Ceres SV Parka is the heaviest garment in the table at 31oz or 879g but has the most insulation with 240 grams of high quality 850 fill down.

Arc'teryx Down Jackets and Parkas Comparison Table

The Ceres SV parka is best suited as a basecamp parka or winter snow camping as it is not very compact or light, but it certainly is durable and warm. The Firebee AR compacts much smaller than the Ceres SV parka and would be my choice for individuals prioritizing weight and space for durability. But enough of the Firebee AR, that's for a different review and time. Below are several pieces from Arc'teryx in their stock stuff sack for size comparison. 

From left to right: 1L nalgene, Nuclei AR, Cerium SV, Firebee AR, Ceres jacket
From left to right: 1L nalgene, Nuclei AR, Cerium SV, Firebee AR Parka, Ceres jacket
The Ceres SV Parka comes with two wide hand pockets and a large chest pocket. The hand pockets are big enough to fit almost anything one would want to store in them like an extra pair of gloves. The chest pocket also is quite roomy in which it easily fits a large phone and headlamp.
Inside, the parka offers two big mesh stow pockets, one on each side. Above the right hand stash pocket is zippered security pocket which is fairly large and could store a few energy bars, batteries, and a map. The Ceres parka also comes with it's own light weight stuff sack. 

Interior Stash pocket
Interior Zippered pocket

How it Fits:
The Ceres SV Parka has a XPD Expedition fit from Arc'teryx which allows for ample layering underneath the parka. I can easily fit a thick softshell and a fleece mid-layer comfortably inside the parka without any interference. The Ceres parka is really designed to be put over layers, such as during a rest break or belay, therefore the parka will be excessively roomy with just a baselayer. The Ceres Parka has a bungee pull cord to draw in the parka above waist. This helps minimize excess drafts from the outside elements.

Large hood accommodates climbing helmets or just a beanie/toque 
The hood fits exceptionally well with a variety of climbing helmets, in particular the bulky  Petzl ecrin roc or lightweight Meteor helmet). Surprisingly, the hood also works well without a helmet on by simply pulling on the cinch cord on the back of the hood.

I've gotten two climbs in on Rainier with the Ceres jacket with both times having unsettled weather transitioning from low pressure to high pressure. Having a low pressure system on Mt. Rainier brings much cooler weather and precipitation during the summer which makes it a great time to test out the parka.  The first climb on Rainier brought freezing levels below Camp Muir at 10,000 feet and light precipitation ranging from snow to sleet. The Windstopper fabric on the Ceres jacket worked perfect to keep the down insulation dry when I was outside getting snow to melt. The Ceres jacket was a pleasure to throw over my layers to stay warm during rest breaks as it completely cut out the wind and preserved my body heat.

On my second climb on Mt. Rainier I placed the parka over the footbox of my sleeping bag to prevent the bag from getting wet from the condensation from inside the single wall tent. In the morning my sleeping bag was dry and the parka stayed dried due to the highly water resistant nature of the Gore Windstopper fabric. For many areas of the world snow is dry and cold, but the PNW is one where it is often wet and having extra protection against external moisture makes a big difference. Overall, I'm exceptionally pleased with how water resistant the parka is.

Small features like the large mesh stow pockets in the interior allows me to keep an extra pair of gloves warm and the large front hand pockets could store a 1L Nalgene bottle if needed. These features add up to make the Ceres jacket fully thought out. It's the accumulation of many small but well thought out features that add up to make the Ceres Parka a joy to use.

I've also got to use the Ceres jacket winter camping on Mt. Rainier with temperatures in the low teens with windchill around 0F. It's times like these where having a "bulletproof" parka makes the smallest task like melting water or shoveling snow a little more enjoyable.

The only thing I would change about the Ceres SV parka is adding a small fleece area on the interior of the parka near the chin. Currently, it's just nylon which is ok, but I much rather have a softer feeling fabric against my face. A thin fleece would also make it easier to clean because after a few days of sunscreen and face oils, trying to get that out of the nylon fabric is difficult (It did come out after washing the parka in a commercial washer!).

I honestly look forward to cold weather in the Ceres SV parka because its such a pleasure to wear. If you don't mind the price, few pieces of outerwear have been more thoroughly designed and refined as the Ceres SV Parka. Arc'teryx has brought the warmth and comfort of your favorite sleeping bag to wear in cold, dark, inhospitable mountains.

Arc'teryx Ceres Jacket on the Summit of Mt. Rainier
  • Phenomenal Fit and Cut
  • Windstopper and Down Composite Mapping ensures warmth even in cold damp conditions
  • Two way separating zipper for climbing harnesses
  • Internal waist draw cord maximizes warmth
  • Stretchy wrist cuffs make layering easy 
  • Interior chin area should use a soft fleece like fabric
  • Overpriced compared to similar parkas


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