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Hands-on Gear Review
Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody Review
Cons: Expensive, draw cord performance not as great as other jackets
Bottom line: The best warmth-to-weight ratio in this review makes this the best overall lightweight down jacket.
While few garments we test and review are literally perfect, the Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody is not too far off. It was the highest overall scorer in this review, making it easy for us to award it our Best Overall Lightweight Down Jacket. Its success comes from combining the highest quality 850-fill power down in a sewn-through design that was not only warmer than the other jackets we compared it to, but also very nearly the lightest. Simply put, this jacket offers just about the best warmth-to-weight ratio that we have ever experienced and has the added bonus of packing down very small into its own stuff sack. Finally, we loved how the fit was adaptable to wear this jacket either as the outer most layer, or under a shell, and was simultaneously loose and mobile, while not ever getting in our way while recreating. It was the most expensive jacket in this review, but if you want the best lightweight down jacket money can buy, we would point you toward the Cerium LT Hoody.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Down Jackets for Men of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody was the top scorer in our review based mainly upon its performance in two of the most critically important categories for a lightweight down jacket — warmth and weight. Its 850-fill power down was the highest quality down used in any jacket that we tested, giving it super high loft and heat retention, while also weighing less than the competitors who used lower fill-power down. Only the Rab Microlight Alpine felt similarly warm, but using 750-fill power down, it weighed in over three ounces heavier. Arc'teryx pairs its warm and light down with Arato 10 denier super light nylon shell fabric, ensuring that this jacket uses only the lightest materials available. However, while its high quality led to the maximum performance, it doesn't come without a price — $379 to be exact. This was easily the most expensive down jacket in our review. So, if you want the best, you know where to look, but be prepared to pay a premium.
To see how the Cerium LT Hoody compared to the competition in our overall rankings, check out the chart above.
The Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody was the warmest lightweight jacket that we tested for this review. Many of its competitors, including the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded and the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody left us feeling slightly chilly in the shoulders and back of the neck when conducting our side-by-side tests for warmth. Not so for the Cerium LT, which stuffs a ton of high-loft down into its hood and sewn-through compartments on the back of the neck. It also uses Arc'teryx's Down Composite Mapping to include panels of Coreloft synthetic insulation in places where there is a high threat of moisture build-up, and in this case that meant on top of the shoulders. Despite being noticeably thinner than the down-filled baffles surrounding it, we found that there was no drop-off in these panel's heat-trapping capabilities.
Warmth is the single most important feature of a lightweight down jacket, and the Cerium LT's performance for this metric is surely what propelled it to the highest overall score. We feel that this is due mostly to the amount of loft sustained by the 850-fill power down, which was better than all the other down jackets in this review with the exception of the REI Co-op Magma 850. However, despite having the best down, we didn't find the collar enclosure or the hem, which still felt a bit high despite apparently being lowered in the most recent revision, to be as effective as some of its competitors. Regardless, this jacket received 9 out of 10 for warmth.
The Cerium LT Hoody weighed 11.8 ounces on our independent scale, including its stuff sack that comes in the internal zippered chest pocket. This was for a men's size large.
Impressively, this was the third lightest jacket in the review, behind the super light Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded and the REI Co-op Magma 850. We gave it a higher score than the Magma 850, though, because that jacket didn't have a hood at all, and for our testing, we reviewed a size small. For a size men's large with a hood to weigh not even two ounces more is an impressive accomplishment and ensures that weight will never be an excuse for leaving the Cerium LT behind. 8 out of 10 points.
When it came to the performance of the DWR treatment on its face fabric, the Cerium LT was merely average. Much like we found happened with the Marmot Tullus Hoody, there were some areas where the coating had worn off, leading to some minor absorption of water into the nylon, especially around the shoulders and front zipper. That said, in most other areas the DWR coating remained effective and intact, even after a couple month testing period.
Unlike the Rab Microlight Alpine, this jacket does not use any form of hydrophobically treated down. Instead, it uses panels of Coreloft synthetic insulation in a rather small area on top of each shoulder, where it is most likely to get wet from falling rain, to try and lessen the impact of getting wet. That said, the tops of the arms and hood don't have these Coreloft panels, so there is still plenty of areas where the down could become compromised and be a liability of it gets severely soaked. As such, we awarded it 6 out of 10 for this metric, a bit lower than the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, but better than the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody.
We felt that the Cerium LT offered a nearly perfect fit, and graded it at the top along with the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded. However, where the Ghost Whisperer is very sleek, bordering on tight for use as an active under-layer, the Cerium LT is loose and highly mobile, without crossing the boundary into being baggy.
In particular, we loved how this jacket featured very long sleeves that wouldn't ride up above our wrists when moving our arms overhead or to the side, and also had a spacious enough cut that we never felt constriction in our shoulders, chest, or upper back. While one would think that a non-constricting fit should be taken for granted, the overly tight shoulder areas we found in the fits of The North Face Morph Hoodie as well as the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded, means that this mobility is in fact unique. On the other hand, we were really happy that this jacket didn't cross the line into being too baggy like we found with the cut of the REI Co-op Magma 850. 9 out of 10 for the best fit.
The Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody was the second most compressible jacket in this review behind only the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded.
It stuffs into an included, super thin stuff sack that can be girth hitched inside the zippered interior chest pocket. While this stuff sack has a clip-in loop and weighs next to nothing, it isn't super easy to get the jacket fully stuffed within. Once stuffed, this jacket is roughly the size of a Nalgene, smaller than the OR Transcendent Hoody or the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, which both stuff into their own pockets. While we worry slightly about the possibility of losing the stuff sack on an important climb or adventure, we can't argue with how incredibly compressible this jacket is. 8 out of 10.
While the Cerium LT has a minimum of usable features, we found them to perform slightly less awesome than many of the features found on competitor's jackets.
It comes with two zippered handwarmer pockets, as well as a single interior chest pocket where the stuff sack lives. It does not have any internal stash pockets, like those found in the OR Transcendent Hoody. To secure the hood there is a single drawcord at the back of the head, but we found that when pulled tight it has a tendency to create uncomfortable pressure on the ears, unlike a very similar design found on the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody that was far more comfortable.
It also has dual hem drawcords that are easy to tighten and do an effective job of tucking the tail ends up under the hem, but with no buckle present, we found the tightening system to be quite difficult to loosen with gloves on, or even with one hand. Overall, the performance of its features were on par with those of the REI Co-op Magma 850, and nowhere near the best. 6 out of 10.
The Cerium LT Hoody is an ideal choice for those who want versatile, lightweight warmth. Since it fits well over the top of other layers but is also sleek enough to recreate in, we found it ideal for nearly any outdoor activity.
Alpinists, backcountry skiers, and others who value low weight will find it especially useful. However, keep in mind that this is an active and lightweight piece, and still won't be sufficient as an expedition parka in truly bone-chilling cold.
This jacket retails for $379, which is quite a bit more expensive than an average down jacket and makes it the priciest purchase in our review. If you have the cash, we feel like it offers great value, as you literally cannot find such awesome warmth-to-weight ratio in another jacket.
The Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody is our Editors' Choice winner as the Best Overall lightweight down jacket because of its solid combination of mobile fit, lightweight, and superior warmth. This jacket so easily hits all of the desirable traits of a down jacket that we are left wondering, what else does one need? If you want the best down jacket that money can buy, we suggest you take a serious look at this one.
— Andy Wellman
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