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Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody Review

An incredibly light jacket for your trips where weight matters.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $349 List | $224.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratio
Cons:  Expensive, not super durable
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Adam Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 10, 2019
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 11
  • Warmth - 30% 6
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7
  • Fit - 15% 9
  • Compressibility - 10% 10
  • Features - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody is the best you can get when it comes to ultralight-style down jackets. This was our go-to piece for traversing the High Peaks of Vermont when the winds were whipping and the temps hovered around freezing. This year we are awarding it a Top Pick for Ultra-light Warmth. If you are playing hard in the mountains, you might want something warmer or more feature-rich, but for all-around use, including thru-hiking in late fall, this is an excellent choice. There are some definite limitations of this jacket but for what it is, it does a great job.


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Pros Lightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratioGreat fit, warm, lightweight, packable, hydrophobic down900+ fill down, warm, lightweight, incredibly compressible, competitively pricedWater resistant hydrophobic down, great DWR coating, well thought-out featuresVery warm, super light, packs small, fits fantastic
Cons Expensive, not super durableExpensiveHood a little tight to fit over a helmet, no hood adjustment750 fill-power down is good but not as light or lofty as othersExpensive, draw cord performance not as great as other jackets
Bottom Line An incredibly light jacket for your trips where weight matters.This is our absolute favorite jacket for going fast and light when we need to be toasty at camp.A great choice for folks looking to go fast, light, and warm.Excellent for wet weather because it has all the features to ensure the down stays dry.A great warmth to weight ratio and excellent features make the Cerium a solid choice.
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody Summit L3 Hoody Feathered Friends Eos Rab Microlight Alpine Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody
Warmth (30%)
10
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6
10
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10
10
0
10
10
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7
10
0
8
Weight (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
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8
10
0
6
10
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8
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
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6
Fit (15%)
10
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9
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9
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8
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9
10
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7
Compressibility (10%)
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10
10
0
9
10
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8
10
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6
10
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7
Features (10%)
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8
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10
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7
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9
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8
Specs Arc'teryx Cerium... Summit L3 Hoody Feathered Friends... Rab Microlight... Arc'teryx Cerium...
Down Fill 850-fill goose down 800-fill goose down 900+ goose down 750-fill goose down 850-fill
Total Weight 8.4 oz 13.8 oz 13 oz 15.7 oz 12 oz
Baffle Construction Sewn-through Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles
Main Fabric Arato 7 nylon Pertex Quantum GL (10D x 10D nylon ripstop), DWR coating Pertex Quantum Pertex Quantum Arato 10 nylon
Compression Method Included stuff sack Zips into its own pocket with clip-in loop Stuff sack Stuff sack Zips into its own pocket with clip-in loop
Pockets 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand
Hoodless Option? Yes No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

One thing to get out of the way early, honest reviews of gear require the tester to give honest feedback. This jacket has its weaknesses, but that's mostly a foregone conclusion based on the style of jacket, and all ultra-light jackets share similar faults. It's just a tradeoff when you start cutting ounces. So if you are in search of a UL down hoody, take these criticisms with a grain of salt.

Performance Comparison


Late fall in the High Peaks of Vermont was a great time and place to test the warmth and wind resistance of the Cerium Sl.
Late fall in the High Peaks of Vermont was a great time and place to test the warmth and wind resistance of the Cerium Sl.

Warmth


The Cerium SL Hoody is ultra-light, utilizing a high quality 850 fill-power ethically sourced goose down. While the down isn't of the hydrophobic variety, it does loft up well for its weight to keep you nice and warm, especially when used as a puffy mid-layer.


The exterior shell is wind resistant, and we have a hard time not arguing that its wind proof, having tested it to the max on the High Peaks of Vermont in some wicked cold and gusty winds.


The hood has an excellent closure with a simple, user-friendly design that, and most importantly, comfortably seals out the cold. A hem adjustment is another feature that we were glad to have, again, to keep our body heat inside rather than losing it from underneath to a cold breeze.

The hem cinch worked well to tension but required two hands to release since  rather than using a standard cord lock  they went with a non-releasable friction device instead  which has to be manually pulled back through.
The hem cinch worked well to tension but required two hands to release since, rather than using a standard cord lock, they went with a non-releasable friction device instead, which has to be manually pulled back through.

While this jacket is excellent as a mid-layer, we used it mostly as our main terminal piece unless the skies opened up. With how wind resistant it was, we found this jacket to be plenty warm, choosing to layer underneath to get the warmth level just right. This isn't for serious mountain expeditions, but it makes an excellent option for the cold of a shoulder season or a beautiful winter day in the Rockies.

Weight


At 8.4 ounces for a size large plus the included stuff-sack, the Cerium SL is one of the lightest jackets in this review. The 850 fill-power down lofts up well, allowing less of it to be used to fill the baffles helping to keep the weight down. The shell and liner fabric are among the lightest in the test, not to mention, softest to the touch.


The drawback of its weight is that it doesn't have the same warmth, durability, or feature set that a more standard down jacket will have. With that said, this jacket packs a surprising amount of perks in such a lightweight package.

The Cerium SL (right) stuffs smaller than any jacket in this test. Here it is shown beside the Feathered Friends Eos and the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody.
The Cerium SL (right) stuffs smaller than any jacket in this test. Here it is shown beside the Feathered Friends Eos and the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody.

Water Resistance


To battle moisture, the Cerium SL incorporates a DWR or durable water repellent coating that keeps water from "wetting out" or soaking into the fabric itself and coming into contact with the down itself.


However, this works alright, but a DWR finish is the standard of nearly all outerwear these days only works for so long; water will start getting through the stitches, and unfortunately, the down is non-hydrophobic.

With a non-hydrophobic down insulation  we are glad to report the DWR does an outstanding job.
With a non-hydrophobic down insulation, we are glad to report the DWR does an outstanding job.

There is one area in which this jacket does a good job with moisture - in the shoulders, cuffs, and underarms. Arc'teryx uses what they call down mapping; instead of using down in these moisture-prone areas, they use Coreloft synthetic insulation, which won't absorb moisture. While this is seemingly a good idea, we feel like it can only help so much, and the down is still somewhat vulnerable to moisture from rain, or even sweat.

Arc'teryx uses down mapping  which is where they strategically place small sections of synthetic insulation in areas that are prone to getting wet like the shoulders  cuffs  and armpits.
Arc'teryx uses down mapping, which is where they strategically place small sections of synthetic insulation in areas that are prone to getting wet like the shoulders, cuffs, and armpits.

Fit


We feel the fit of this jacket is just about perfect, allowing plenty of room inside the jacket for a base layer and light fleece while easily fitting under a shell jacket or heavier insulating layer. If we were to pick one coat for a night out on the town, this would be it.


We had no problem layering with the Cerium. It was common for us to use this with a baselayer  lightweight fleece  and a hard shell when weather rolled in.
We had no problem layering with the Cerium. It was common for us to use this with a baselayer, lightweight fleece, and a hard shell when weather rolled in.

Compressibility


The compressibility of a down jacket comes down to a few things; how thin and light the fabrics are, how feature-laden it is, and the weight/fill-power of the filling. This jacket checks all the boxes to make it the light-weight authority that it is.


The Arato 7 nylon shell material is some of the softest and lightest in this test, but it still has a decent tear resistance. However, tear-resistance, in this case, is a relative term, and this fabric is less durable than hoodies with a slightly heavier fabric. Using 850 fill-power ensures the down itself won't be a limiting factor when it comes to compressibility, and the features included in this coat, while useful, are few, keeping things super basic and as light and compressible as possible.

Some jackets came with a stuff sack instead of using a stow pocket. We had mixed feelings about this as a stuff sack can protect the jacket if the bag were to get damaged  but you have to keep track of it.

Features


The Cerium SL isn't what we would describe as feature-rich, which helps to keep it lightweight, but the features it does includes are crucial and well-executed. The hood cinch is easy to use with one hand and creates a comfortable seal from the elements without bothering our ears, which is a common problem. This also comes with a very basic elastic hem adjustment, that unfortunately skimped on using a cord-lock and requires two hands to de-tension through its tensioner. While a cold-lock would have been easy to incorporate, this tensioner won't bother you under a harness or backpack strap as easily.


The hood was easy to both tension and release with one hand and did a great job of securing the hood around the head and face  keeping frigid drafts out.
The hood was easy to both tension and release with one hand and did a great job of securing the hood around the head and face, keeping frigid drafts out.

The small zipper is smooth and light, but we've experienced failure on these lightweight zippers in the past. This jacket uses a separate storage sack, which if gets scuffed on the rock while on the back of your harness, can take the brunt of any damage, while the jacket is safely tucked inside.

The thin zipper is one of the weakest links of this jacket. We have had other jackets with this same zipper wear out before the rest of the jacket. Also  note the down coming out one of the stitches. While rare  it did happen from time to time  as with most down jackets.
The thin zipper is one of the weakest links of this jacket. We have had other jackets with this same zipper wear out before the rest of the jacket. Also, note the down coming out one of the stitches. While rare, it did happen from time to time, as with most down jackets.

Value


Like everything Arc'teryx produces, this jacket is far from cheap. That's not to say it isn't a good value for some people. If you are going light and you love the build quality of an Arc'teryx product, you will love this jacket and likely be happy to spend that kind of money. However, if you are looking for an all-around down hoody, you can get one just as warm, albeit slightly heavier, for a much lower price. The niche for those who need this jacket is fairly small, but the soft feel, nice style, and simple design make this a great option for a much larger group.

Conclusion


We loved testing the Cerium SL and had no reservations about giving it our Top Pick award for its ultralight warmth!
We loved testing the Cerium SL and had no reservations about giving it our Top Pick award for its ultralight warmth!

The Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody is a great jacket if you are looking to go light. It isn't one of the warmest in the lineup, but when you consider how much it weighs, it sports an incredible warmth to weight ratio. Features like the strategically placed Coreloft insulation where moisture often will absorb into the down add to the appeal of this jacket, but this is no jacket for the alpine unless used as a mid-layer. We don't recommend wearing a shell over it for much aerobic activity; however, as sweat can find its way into the down, which is not hydrophobic like much of the competition. But, if you want an ultra-light down hoody with an excellent fit, the Cerium SL is not to be overlooked.


Adam Paashaus