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Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Review

   

Insulated Jackets - Men's

  • Currently 4.5/5
Overall avg rating 4.5 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: December 2, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $149 - $229 | Compare prices at 11 resellers
Pros:  Ventilated, super comfortable, nice hood and wrist cuffs
Cons:  No stuff pocket
Best Uses:  Backpacking, bouldering, skiing, cold weather running
User Rating:     
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 (3.0 of 5) based on 1 reviews
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
Review by: Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 22, 2014  
Overview
The Arc'teryx Atom LT presents us with the most interesting construction of the jackets we tested. Breathable fleece side and underarm panels ventilate the main body of the jacket. While not as breathable as the Nano Air Hoody, the Atom LT is better suited to very active use than similar jackets with a complete wind resistant outer fabric. This is the little brother of the heavier and warmer Arc'teryx Atom AR, and with its comfortable features, the Atom LT is a favorite insulated jacket for many people.

Our Top Pick for Breathability, the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody delivers superior comfort for high energy activities. Meanwhile, the Rab Xenon X with wind and water resistant construction was our favorite insulated jacket overall, and won our Editors' Choice award.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The Arc'teryx Atom LT has an interesting combination of an insulated main body and breathable fleece underarm and side panels. It's one of the more versatile jackets we tested, performing well as a mid layer and providing ventilation for active use as an outer layer.

Performance Comparison
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This is one of our favorite jackets for bouldering. The low bulk and breathable fleece panels move well and regulate overheating. Flagstaff Mtn, Boulder, CO.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Warmth
Arc'teryx use its prorietary 60g/m2 Coreloft insulation for the Atom LT. In contrast, the Atom AR is much warmer with 120g/m2 around the torso. Worn as a mid layer, we found the LT similar in warmth to the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody and the Xenon X. But as an outer layer, the warmth that its insulation holds in is counteracted by the easy breathability of the fleece side panels. When cold winds blow, you'll need a lightweight shell to layer over this jacket to retain warmth.

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Nick Andresen showing off the signature Powerstretch fleece side and underarm. In addition to allowing some air flow, these panels reduce bulk under the arm and contribute to great mobility.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Weight and Compressibility
Our size large test model weighed in at 13.7 ounces, right in the middle of the test field and very close to the Patagonia Nano Air. While this light jacket can compress quite small, it does not stow away in one of its pockets. This is a downside for climbers and others, but you likely will wear it through a great range of activities and stow it less.

Comfort
Arc'teryx has long impressed us with its attention to detail and thoughtful features, and the Atom LT doesn't disappoint. Match fine features like the comfy cuffs and an adjustable hood with an extended comfort range for high energy activity, and the Atom LT received the second highest score we awarded. Great mobility made this one of our favorite layers for bouldering in cold weather.

We love the hood on this model; the only hood on a lightly insulated jacket that is adjustable. A single cord lock at the back of the head tightens the elastic cord that extends to the front of the hood and up over the brow. The main zipper has a nicely shaped plastic pull that is hooded by a small fabric flap under the chin when fully closed. We only wish Arc'teryx would use these same pulls on the hand pocket zippers. In addition to the hand pockets, which are lined with a soft micro fleece for the back of your hands, an interior chest pocket on the left side provides storage. The cuff design, shared with the warmer Atom AR, incorporates stretchy, wedge shaped panels over the inner wrist. These seal in warmth with a snug fit and are low profile for sliding the gauntlet of your glove over top. And finally, the elastic hem cinch can be tightened and secured at either hip with a cord lock.

Click to enlarge
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Water Resistance
The Atom LT is designed with breathability as a higher priority than weather resistance. While this piece has an effective DWR treatment that beaded water in a light drizzle, the nylon outer fabric and fleece side panels begin to absorb water within a few minutes if you don't get out your shell. This jacket functions perfectly as a mid layer and is a nice choice for a terminal layer in cold, dry conditions.

Wind Resistance
Along with the Nano Air Hoody and the Rab Strata, the Atom LT is a piece built for breathability and air flow rather than wind resistance. The Tinthan nylon used for the main outer fabric allows easier air flow through than the ripstop weaves other jackets feature, and the Power Stretch fleece underarm panels move even more air.

Style
While this jacket has a nice, athletic cut, we feel its combination of outer fabrics gives it a "techy" look. With eight color options, ranging from low key, to "in your face" like our bright orange test model, you should find one that pleases you.

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Credit: Brandon Lampley

Best Applications
The Arc'teryx Atom LT is designed for comfort during high energy activities. The built-in breathability makes it a great choice for a middle layer under a shell, as well as outer wear when you're pushing hard. It functions well for cold weather bouldering, moving with you and preventing overheating during brief, high output burns.

Value
At $230, the Arc'teryx Atom LT is a bit more expensive that our Editors' Choice Rab Xenon X, but more affordable than competing models from Patagonia. The fleece lined pockets and adjustable hood are features we love that don't appear in similar models. We've been using one for years and love it still.

Conclusion
Due to its comfy fit and fine features, this is one of our testers' enduring favorite jackets. The low profile cuffs and low bulk fit make it an excellent mid layer for skiing, climbing, and cold weather backpacking. Designed to regulate temperature and moisture during high energy output, this is a fine choice for cold weather trail running and stop and go cold activities like bouldering.

Other Versions
The Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody - Women's, $219, is the women's version of this jacket.

Brandon Lampley & Chris Simrell

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 2, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)

0% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 50%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Dec 2, 2014 - 11:51am
Daemon Angel · Snowboarder · Belgium
To start I want to say that I think this is a really nice jacket.

I was able to purchase it at a 50% discount so that was really nice.

The reason I bought it is because I wanted an insulating layer for under my shell or as light outer layer for activities in colder weather.
When hiking it replaces my fleece (under my shell on stops or when the temp drops) and I use it over a sweater when walking the dog or when riding the bike.
The breathing capabilities were important for me, making this jacket one of the candidates. The 50% discount made me choose this one.

The jacket was warm enough at 5C (41 F) with light winds and only a t-shirt underneath. But that was the limit, I was a bit cold sometimes. With a sweater underneath and medium winds I am perfectly fine at 0C (32 F).

Starting with the pro's.
  • I like how the jacket looks. You can use it to go to the city without looking weird. There are other jackets that do that, but this one goes a step further and it even looks nice.
  • The front and back both block the wind very well. This is especially nice on the front when biking.
  • The sides breath well so you have the opportunity to vent a bit and sweat less. This makes the jacket a bit less warm but can be solved with a wind blocking jacket over it.
  • The pockets are also nice lined with a fleece and feel comfy and there is a napoleon pocket on the inside (I prefer on the outside so I do not have to open my jacket but it is there).
  • There is a drawstring at the bottom of the jacket, which is nice.

In between
  • The hood is ok, a bit too loose for me when you don't have a helmet and there is no way for tightening it.

Now the cons.
  • The cuffs feel very nice so that is a pro, BUT, the fabric of the cuffs extends to the inside of your wrist. Meaning that they are not insulated at the inside of the wrist.
Click to enlarge
Cuffs at inside wrist
Credit: Daemon Angel
It is a bit hard to see but you can see the difference in color. The stretch fabric from the wrist closure stretches out across the inside of the wrist.
While the jacket keeps me warm, this part of the wrist is quite crucial for keeping me warm and especially my hands warm. I have noticed that my body can be nicely warm but my wrists really feel cold and so would my hands.
  • There is nothing covering the end of the zipper.
Click to enlarge
Zipper end
Credit: Daemon Angel
I prefer to have something like this
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Credit: Daemon Angel
The way it is now, causes the zipper to scuff my chin and after a couple of hours of walking it would become quite raw.
The other downside of not having something like this is that the zipper puller tends to smack you in the face when the wind is blowing hard or when I jogged or ran for a few meters.

I do not understand that Arc'teryx did not add this 1 cm of fabric. I have it on all my other gear (Millet, 66 North, Bergans, etc…)
  • Only a minor con for me is that the jacket does not stow in one of its pockets.

Explanation on the "No I would not recommend" while I still like the jacket:
I like the jacket for the price I payed but at it's original price I would prefer the North Face Thermoball hooded jacket or another one. I tried the thermoball on in the store and it fits nicely and is also a really nice jacket. I would recommend that one to friends over the one I have if they are both at the same price. But I did recommend this jacket to friends when it had the discount. With that discount you get a lot of jacket for little money.
Also when the zipper and the cuffs seem nit picking to you then this is really a good jacket :-).

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Credit: Arc'teryx
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