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Hands-on Gear Review
Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Bulky, heavier, not breathable, shallow pockets
Introducing this year's Top Pick for Warmth! The Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody really stands out among all the jackets tested because of its fantastic features and beefy insulation. Most jackets in this review had 60 g/m2 of insulation, but this one hosts twice as much. Additionally, the thicker shell material is heavy duty, protecting you from the wind and rain. It also features an adjustable hood and well-designed stretchy cuff gaskets that wrap around your wrists to conserve heat. With one pull, you have a hood that encompasses the perimeter of your face.
Although the AR provides extra warmth, it's bulkier than many of its competitors. When our testers tried to wear it under tighter, less bulky shells, they still found themselves almost immobilized by the beefy puff of the Atom AR's arms. That said, we would still recommend bringing this jacket on longer colder missions, but you might want to make sure it's on top of your shell, or buy a shell that is larger. Other than that, this was the warmest jacket tested, earning its place as the Top Pick for Warmth. Also check out the Atom AR's little cousin, the Arc'teryx Atom LT - Women's - a time-tested and more breathable option.
RELATED: Our complete review of insulated jackets - women's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody features a combination of fantastic extras and 120 g/m2 of Coreloft insulation. As a result, there was no other jacket as warm in this review, which is why it took home our Top Pick Award for Warmth.
Having a warm jacket in the wintertime is an absolute necessity in cold climates. Sliding on the Atom AR Hoody has always been a real treat especially with a nip in the air. What sets the AR apart from the other jackets is its ample insulation, type of insulation, and warmth features. To start, the Atom hosts 120 g/m2 of Coreloft insulation in the main body. In the hood and underneath the arms, it has 80 g/m2; inside the pockets, it has 60 g/m2. What Arc'teryx has done is identified the areas where you need the most heat (i.e. your core) so that blood can still flow to your extremities and won't ultimately make your hands colder. This smart approach makes this jacket warm and cozy, but not too bulky and non-breathable to prevent you from doing aerobic exercise in the winter.
What's more, is that Arc'teryx has added a variety of warmth extras. The shell is continuous and doesn't have any perforations, which adds warmth by increasing wind resistance. It has a luxuriously roomy, adjustable collar that cinches all the way down. Not only that, but it has awesome elastic cuffs that wrap your wrists for easy glove wear, increased heat retention, and all-around warmth. Did we mention the longer hem that has two adjustable points? Just another plus and reason why the AR Hoody earned its Top Pick for Warmth.
Compression & Weight
Not surprisingly, this hoody did not score very well in this category. Bulk and warmth tend to be a huge trade-off for compressibility and weight. Scoring similar to the Columbia Kaleidaslope II Jacket - Women's, the AR was one of the least compressible jackets. When we tried to stuff it into its pocket, we noticed that its pocket size (very small) was a huge limiting factor. Had Arc'teryx made a slightly larger pocket, then they may have been able to integrate a stow away system - which would have been a huge plus for the Atom AR.
When breaking out the scale, we saw that a medium jacket weighed roughly 14 ounces. This is about five ounces heavier than most of our lighter weight and quilted jackets, and just an ounce less than the Kaleidaslope II. Even though the AR doesn't fit into its pocket and is relatively heavy, our testers think that for its bulk and size, it offers relatively good compression.
If you are looking for something that is far more compressible with an integrated stow away system, check out our Best Buy Award winner, the Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket - Women's or our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Xenon X Hoodie - Women's, which has an impressive warmth-to-weight/compressibility ratio.
Ah - the good ol' shower test. The Atom AR was the first jacket that we took into the shower with us to test its water resistance and absorption. Its outer continuous shell has a DWR coating will protect against a light right but only does so much until the garment is completely soaked. Our head tester first got into the shower wearing a cotton shirt underneath to see if the water was able penetrate the fabric to underlying layers. During this five minutes, we noticed that it took approximately 3-4 minutes before the fabric was completely wetted. Though, even after becoming wetted, it kept the moisture away from her body.
The Atom AR also did a pretty decent job at not absorbing a lot of water. It didn't do as well as the Rab Xenon X or The North Face ThermoBall Jacket - Women's, but we were surprised that for its loft, it retained so little water in the end. Not only that, but it was the fourth fastest to dry. Good job Arc'teryx on making this beefy beast not only water resistant, but resistant to absorption.
The continuous shell with an additional liner and whole lot of insulation in the main body also makes this piece quite wind resistant. When testing these jackets head-to-head in a windstorm that swept through La Junta, Colorado, we found that the Atom immediately left our bodies warm, especially after wearing the least wind resistant piece (the Patagonia Nano Air). Don't be afraid to take the AR up on high, windy peaks.
Comfort & Coziness
The Atom AR Hoody has several key comfort features and earned one of the highest ratings in this category alongside the Rab Xenon X. These features include its high and roomy collar, the elastic wrist gaskets, adjustable hood, and the adjustable hem pull cords. A few other features include its long length, larger interior pocket, and the garaged zipper. The lofty feel of the insulation in combination with the high collar allow you to nuzzle in and get super cozy on those long, cold belays in the mountains. The fabric also has a little stretch and moves with your body.
With the good, there is a little bad. One of the most annoying features on the Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody is its exterior pockets. Unlike most women, our main tester does not carry around a purse, but instead stuffs her enormous wallet into her pocket. If you are like this, don't expect this jacket to accommodate as the hand pockets are very shallow and hardly have enough room for your hands. However, this jacket does come with a larger interior chest pocket that keeps it harness and backpack compatible. Aside from those caveats, we think the Atom does a fairly good job at keeping things comfy.
With fantastic warmth and weather protection, it's not surprising that this jacket scored low in our breathability metric. The continuous shell and ample insulation don't allow as much airflow as other breathable jackets like the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody - Women's. That said, we were surprised to see that we could still climb and hike in cold weather without sweating too bad.
Style & Fit
The style of the Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody is alright, but nothing to write home about. The super boxy and puffy chested cut was the least flattering of all the coats tested, but the continuous shell, stand-out colors, and darted elastic cuffs do help make this technical jacket look good. Our testers enjoyed wearing it around town and to different functions, but to say the least, it is a pretty minimalist and boxy design.
This jacket is best used for late fall, winter, or early spring weather. Because of its weight and warmth, it's not the greatest jacket for fair days - it works better on cold winter nights. It would be great on long, cold, alpine adventures, resort skiing/snowboarding days, building snowmen in the front yard, and any type of cold weather car camping adventure.
Priced at $299, the Arc'teryx Atom AR is durable, warm, and weather resistant. Arc'teryx also backs its products with a lifetime guarantee. The company will fix anything that is a manufacturer defect, including zippers even after years of use. So - is this a good deal? If you're looking for a warm insulated jacket, we definitely think so. Also keep in mind that a down jacket that offers similar warmth could cost significantly more.
If you are looking for a warm, warranty-backed jacket with great features, then look no further than our Top Pick for Warmth award winner. This jacket will keep you warm in fierce wind and nasty snow storms. The price of $299 might be high, but this is a great investment that you will get your money's worth out of. Take it on long cold winter missions, but avoid wearing it during highly aerobic activities where breathability is key.
Other Versions or Accessories
Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody
Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody - Women's
— Amber King
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 11, 2014
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