Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Warm, stretchy, large hood, slim fit, breathable.
Cons: Not windproof, not as long as Venta MX, chest pockets look odd.
Best Uses: Ice and alpine climbing.
The Arcteryx Gamma MX is a moderately breathable, wind resistant and stretchy softshell designed for moderate output alpine and ice climbing. The jacket uses Fortius 2.0, a stretch woven nylon-spandex material, lined with thin fleece. It's moderately wind resistant, comfortable, and unrestrictive. The five exterior pockets provide a ton of storage options. The fit is technical and slim and the hood is comfortable when worn over a helmet. One of our testers took the shell up Denali.
Our testers prefer the Beyond Clothing Cold Fusion Shock to the Gamma MX because it fits perfectly and uses a similar material. In general, however, we believe windproof softshells are more versatile and offer more performance for a wider range of activities.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Arcteryx Gamma MX is a comfortable, versatile, and warm softshell. It’s made of Fortius 2.0, a stretch woven nylon/spandex blend with a thin fleece backing. The material is warm, stretchy, and breathable, making it ideal for high output, highly mobile activities on cold days.
Ice and alpine climbing are the ideal applications for the Gamma MX but it also works well for very cold backcountry ski days. The primary difference between this softshell and the majority of others reviewed here its lack of complete wind protection (the Gamma MX has no membrane). This is good for sweaty activities because it’s more breathable, but bad for less active sports or for when the wind is blowing really hard. The fleece lining makes it warmer than other windproof jackets such as the Mountain Hardwear Dragon or Marmot Super Hero.
The Gamma MX has a very slim fit that goes over a base layer or lightweight fleece (Patagonia R1 hoody, for example). The back is longer than the front, which is great, and the cuffs are slim and non-adjustable (liner gloves can go under and heavier gloves can go over). The jacket has two elevated hand pockets that sit above a hip belt and two chest pockets for storage. There are no pit zips, but the hand pockets are lined with a thin mesh that allows for some venting. Overall, the jacket fits and feels well. It’s light and stretchy enough for mobile activities and comfortable enough (unlike hardshells) to wear in a more casual setting.
You can get it with or without a hood.
While the Gamma MX fit this author very well, testers with larger builds found it difficult to size correctly. We asked seven independent people (non testers) to judge the aesthetics of all softhells reviewed. This group unanimously reported that the dual chest pockets were ugly. (We tested the Candy Apple Red, which, as of 1/18/13, is no longer a color option) The Gamma MX also includes a small zippered bicep pocket, which is not at all necessary. The two exterior chest pockets are far inferior to the check pockets found on Arcterx's Venta MX- they're smaller and harder to access. The handwarmer pockets are nice for walking around town when you don't have gloves on.
Ice and alpine climbing, ackcountry skiing.
The Beyond Clothing Cold Fusion shock is custom made to fit you and roughly $50 cheaper. We recommend this over the Gamma MX
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 18, 2013
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