The Snugpak Arrowhead is the successor to the Sleeka Elite. The first impression when you wear it is pretty positive, creating the same lightweight yet cozy feeling as its predeccessor.
We tested the Arrowhead on and off duty, in a variety of weather conditions including fog and rain and temperaturese as deep as minus -9°c, including windchill.
But why does the sleeka, which is perhaps the most popular military midlayer garment, need a successor? The answer is simple, as time advances many military endusers want new features.
Those include a broader selection of pockets, a more athletic cut and the inclusion of a hood and a brushed fleece interior. If you dont need any of those features, read this article to consider if you want to go for the sleeka (which will stay in production) or Snugpaks more expensive SJ line of jackets.
LAYOUT & CONSTRUCTION
The Arrowhead’s design is solid and rugged with a water-repellent Paratex outer and Snugpak’s insulation fiber called Softie, which is rated to a maximum of minus 10°c.
The water-repellent Paratex outer does its job as expected, though without a rip-stop weave as some brands offer it. Paratex is more rugged than it may look at first sight and offers working windblocking properties and a good amount of water repellenty, yet wicking attributes. If you want a ripstop midlayer, you can still consider getting snugpaks slightly more expensive SJ6 jacket, which is made out of paratex micro, which features a ripstop weave.
The Arrowhead has a removable and adjustable hood. This is a real advantage because with other brands you have to decide if you want a hood or not this one offers both. The collar has a fleece-like soft material, which is also a real advantage on cold and windy days as it really improves comfort. In contrast to the Sleeka, the Arrowhead also features Velcro adjustable cuffs, fitting into the concept of being more suited for permanent wear as an outerlayer.
The front zipper of the Arrowhead works pretty well, only some bits of protruding material on the left and right of the zipper created some problems, with the zipper often getting caught in those overlapping areas. This is an unnecessary issue as the actual wind blocking fabric strip is located behind the zipper. In comparison, the main zipper of Snugpaks SJ series of jacket didnt create this kind of problem.
The Arrowead offers four exterior pockets, all lined with a soft, fleece-like material. Two spacious stash pockets keep your hands warm and comfortable. One pocket is located on the left chest and one on the upper left arm, both are roomy enough to store your cell phone or something of similar size. The additional pockets are a great option if you dont wear cammies under them.
On the bottom of the Snugpak Arrowhead, there is an adjustable cord on both sides that allows you to cinch the jacket if needed On the inside there is another small pocket on the left, perfect for storing a handwarmer when the insulation of the jacket isnt enough anymore.
TEST AND USE
We used the Arrowhead mostly in conjuction with Army-issued field jackets over the past few months. However, we have also tested the Arrowhead on its own during survival training. The big advantage of the Arrowhead is its versatility.
When used under a field jacket or rain gear and without a hood, no one will notice the Arrowhead. Especially in a line-up, you will really appreciate the well-functioning insulation.
When working with explosives or on the range or any other opportunity where dexterty in your fingers is crucial, I was grateful for the warm stash pockets at a windchill of 20kmh and subzero temperatures. Beyond this you are able to store your earpro, rangecards and cellphone in the small accesory pockets on the chest and upper arm.
During the aforementioned survival training, we took a long break of about 2.5h at minus 5°c and a wind chill of 10-15kmh. The Arrowhead kept me warm and comfortable while not being to warm on the move. The wicking properties of Paratex are also worth mentioning.
Also the more athletic cut makes the Arrowhead a more suitable piece of kit for its wear as a midlayer. If you are more into wearing your jacket above your bodyarmor and kit, just like many people do with the sleeka, consider going a size up.
The Snugpak Arrowhead offers everything a soldier, responsible citizen or outdoor enthusiast needs on a loft jacket for a very, very competitive price. At least if you are operating in temperatures between -5c and -10c. If you need lower or higher loft jacket you can go with Snugpaks UK made SJ series which is offered in ranges between 0c and -20c and offers a higher quality at a slightly higher price.
Additionally Snugpak released the more insulating Spearhead and Tomahawk jackets as part of their more affordable overseas made line.
All in all, Snugpak again managed to put out an affordable garment that manages to outperform many more expensive garments, thanks to the use of Snugpaks propietary softie insulation and paratex shell. This statement even includes Brands like Arcteryx or Carinthia (which Snugpak Jackets outperform in every aspect). The only gripe we had was the main zipper which sometimes tended to jam.