Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Ventilated, super comfortable, nice hood and wrist cuffs
Cons: No stuff pocket
Best Uses: Backpacking, bouldering, skiing, cold weather running
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Most recent review: January 22, 2015
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