The Sabre AR from Arc’teryx is an iteration of what used to be called the Sabre (the AR stands for All Round and indicates a level of versatility that may not be present in their more targeted pieces) and it is aimed squarely at backcountry skiing and snowboarding – or as Arc’teryx put it, ‘big mountain.’
The technical shell minimalism is there in spades, and while I’ve never found a shell jacket I’d be prepared to wear to skin more than 200 metres of vert, the minimalism is as welcome when you’re stashing it in a pack.
Lighter shells are available but the addition of a ‘warm flannel liner’ is very clever. The description implies some kind of bulky inner jacket, but it’s simply an alternative backing bonded to the membrane – soft enough to have clear thermal properties, but barely any more noticeable than the usual plasticky scrim. Indeed the jacket still weights in at only 700 grams and that’s with a burly 70 denier nylon face fabric which ensures durability.
The hood is helmet compatible, but has enough adjustment to guarantee a good field of vision even without a helmet, and pockets are varied and useful. To really justify that “AR” versatility though, I’d like to have seen a removable snow skirt.
The fit is generally good, if slightly boxy as many North American brands are. However the upper arms are strangely enormous; I’m all for powder snorkelling, but I don’t need to wear armbands under my jacket.
Finally, the colour options range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Outdoor women have long railed that their only choices are pink and turquoise. I’m not sure the way to level things up was to throw those vile colours into the men’s range as well!! But they’re bound to float someone’s boat (and there are lovely colours on offer too!)
Perhaps I hold Arc’teryx to a higher standard than some brands. Despite this nit-picking, the Sabre AR is exactly what you’d expect; purposeful design in a bomb-proof construction.