Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $150 - $259 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Thickest and warmest jacket reviewed, stylish, breathable for its weight, clever technical features.
Cons: Doesn't stuff into itself, most expensive, hood difficult to cinch.
Best Uses: Belaying, a thicker mid layer when skiing, a warm jacket around town.
This is our favorite insulated jacket and wins our Editor's Choice Award. The fabric is very breathable and surprisingly abrasion resistant even though it feels very light and soft, making this jacket durable even though it is pricey. It works better as a stand-alone layer than most of the other jackets in this review since it is the thickest and it is also one of the most stylish. Of the two hooded jackets reviewed, this one and the Mountain HardWear Hooded Compressor PL - Women's, I am more likely to grab this one to to wear around town on a chilly day and grab the Compressor to pack with me on a long day since it is slightly lighter. If you prefer something less expensive, the Montbell UL Thermawrap Jacket - Women's and the Sherpa Vajra are both excellent jackets, though they are much thinner. If you want a jacket to stuff into itself, The North Face Redpoint is the thickest jacket that still folds into a pocket.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
If I am grabbing a jacket to wear around town during cold winter days, this is the one I would pick. It is thick and cozy, comfortable and stylish. This jacket does not pack down into itself, so it is not as easy to bring along on climbing adventures, but it does compress well in a pack and it has some slick technical features. It has soft material in the handwarmer pockets and on the chin spot when it zips up close to your face. The hood and hem drawcords are cleverly disguised under the main material and even when pulled tight don't bunch in an unsightly way like most other jackets, such as the Mountain HardWear Compressor. Also, even though it is one of the thicker jackets, it has a tricot panel in the inside under the arms to make it more breathable and less sweat-causing. It has articlulated elbows and gusseted underarms, so when I did wear this jacket on an especially cold ice climb it moved well with me and was not restrictive. The cut is also slightly longer in the back, which looks nice and keeps your backside warmer and snow free as well.
This jacket is the most expensive in the review, which is to be expected from Arc'Teryx, but it is also the thickest, warmest, and has a hood. I was surprised when going over the specs that it technically is on the lighter side as well, officially weighing 14.5 oz while some other jackets that are thinner, such as The North Face Redpoint (15.5 oz), weigh almost a pound. That didn't seem entirely accurate to me, so I weighed the Atom SV on a postal scale, and got a reading of exactly a pound, 16 oz. (Apparently Arc'Teryx recorded the weight of the extra-small jacket) So with this new weight, this jacket is also the heaviest in the review, which is more to be expected since it is the thickest.
Since this jacket is thicker than most of the jackets in this review, it works better as an outer layer (great for belaying, especially with the insulated hood) than as a mid layer, though it still does fit under shells and is a fantastic layer for skiing on a really cold day. That is one of the nice things about synthetic jackets they stay warm even when you are squishing them under other layers, whereas down, once it loses loft it also loses warmth. This jacket has the added benefit of being extremely breathable for its thickness and warmth, which makes it less suffocating when using as a mid-layer.
This is the most expensive jacket reviewed, though it is well made and durable. If you have the money and a thick synthetic layer is what you are looking for, this is a quality purchase. If you are on a budget, look into less expensive jackets like the North Face Redpoint or the Sherpa Vajra.
— McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: April 12, 2012
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