Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, look good, versatile, blocks wind and water better than the rest
Cons: Expensive, no rear pockets
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Our Analysis and Test Results
These pants are both comfortable and weather resistant. Their 88/12 nylon/elastane blend makes for a stretchy pair, while the DWR coating and tight fabric weave combine to make a wind and water-resistant award winner. The fabric is noticeably heartier than some other models in this review and resistant to tearing on thorns and branches. All-in-all, we are really pleased with these pants.
Comfort and Mobility
The fabric blend on this model is excellent. It includes a higher-than-typical proportion of elastane, which increases the stretchability quite a bit. It is all the more impressive given how durable the pants are as well. The crotch is gusseted, and the extra fabric creates a modest amount of extra room. The geometry is not quite as comfortable as some other pairs, but it is still highly functional.
The interior of the waist has a soft liner that reduces abrasion. This especially comes in handy if you are carrying a backpacking pack. Considering the weather protection that it provides, this model also finds a way to stay relatively lightweight as well, meaning that it is easy to wear, even as lounge pants in camp.
With its straight leg fit and articulated knee, these pants still allow for solid mobility. One example of the thoughtful comfort features incorporated into these pants is the blunted corner of the snap closure at the waist, which subtly but helpfully eliminates the sharp point in the fabric of many synthetic pants that pokes and rubs the stomach. Though they aren't advertised as slim fit, we still think that they make for a well-fitting pair of pants for skinnier hikers.
Venting and Breathability
Unfortunately, this may be the weakest metric for these pants. They have a few notable vent points; all of the pockets are medium gauge mesh. However, the fabric is tightly woven, so their breathability is lacking. We found during testing that we just got hotter faster in this pair than some others in this review.
On the plus side, they are lightweight. Their major venting advantage is that they can be rolled up and secured using the elastic cord found in the ankle. Of the models that include this type of feature, the Gamma LT design stays put securely, meaning that we didn't have to stop to keep pulling them up too often. Not all pants do this nearly as effectively, and it's annoying to have to stop and fix pant legs that keep falling down continually. We're glad this isn't the case with the Gamma LT.
Versatility and Style
These pants shine for their versatility. They excel in wet or windy weather, are a comfortable travel option, and look good in both backcountry and front country settings. As mentioned above, we found that they aren't ideal for the heat. We did get sweaty in them pretty quickly in temperatures above 60 degrees. However, the roll-up cinch-cord built into the ankle does make them serviceable when the mercury rises.
They have a somewhat technical aesthetic but are still meant for everyday outdoor use. Their stretch makes them a good travel option with a comfortable fit and an articulated design. They look good in non-outdoor adventure settings and perform well on the trail, too.
This is perhaps where these pants differentiate themselves the most from other models. They have a tight fabric weave and an effective DWR coating. They certainly aren't 100% waterproof (none of the pants in this category are), but during testing, we found ourselves in some consistent rain that would have been a problem for many other pairs in this review. However, the Gamma LT held up beautifully. They also beaded water exceptionally well in our controlled spray tests. Eventually, we started to feel wet, but when we were able to check underneath, our skin remained surprisingly dry. Furthermore, because they don't absorb a ton of water, they also dry out fairly quickly.
We are also impressed with their wind resistance, which we also attribute to their construction. One unique component of these pants is the eyelets at the ankle. We will admit that we aren't 100% sure how they are meant to be used, but we found that they can turn the pant into a makeshift gaiter somewhat effectively. If you pair these pants with a mid- or high ankle boot, running the laces through the eyelets secures the pants around the top of your footwear. It's not a perfect seal, but in wet weather, it's a nice option to have.
The features on these pants are robust. They have two handwarmer pockets with zippers as well as an exceptionally wide right thigh pocket with zipper. We are a little disappointed that there aren't any rear pockets, but it turns out that it isn't a deal-breaker for us.
The simple integrated belt makes for a custom fit around the waist, and an adequately-sized fly and easy-to-use snap are a couple of the simple pleasures that we have to remember not to take for granted when they work well, as they do on this pair.
There are also a variety of other features discussed above that add to the performance and comfort of these pants, including the soft waistband liner, mesh-lined pockets, and ankle cinch cord and eyelets. It turns out that the fabric is also more durable than it looks. We got these pants snagged a bunch of times on thorns and rocks, but with no lasting marks to show for it.
These pants are worth the investment if you are a frequent cool-weather hiker. They can be pricey for sure, but we found that when the mercury dropped, or the skies opened up, we were glad to have these pants to protect us. If you generally hike in warmer climates or need an all-around solid pair, we think that they are cheaper options out there that perform equally well if not better in those situations. However, if everything else about them says "yes" to you, we don't think you will be disappointed that you spent the money.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant offers high performance in high-quality pants. They deserve their designation as our top recommendation for wet weather, doing an excellent job of keeping out the rain and wind. We also find them to be pretty darn comfortable and look good, too. There are a couple of minor details that keep them from the very top, but we wouldn't hesitate to slide these on the next time we are out there when the rain rolls in.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch