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Arc'teryx Gamma Pant Review

These functional, high-quality pants best serve those who hike in wet weather
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Arc'teryx Gamma Pant Review (Our inflexibility aside, this model is great for front country activities as well.)
Our inflexibility aside, this model is great for front country activities as well.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch
Price:  $200 List
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Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 13, 2023
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 7.5
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 5.0
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 8.0
  • Features - 15% 6.5
  • Versatility - 15% 8.5

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Gamma offers superior weather protection and is one of our favorite hiking pants. This pair is made for performance and comfort, and we love the mobility it affords when you have to high-step and scramble. We think that they look good in both backcountry and frontcountry settings and generally have a thoughtful set of features. The biggest issue we can find with these pants is that they don't have any rear pockets, but other than that, we are really pleased. They can be pricey, but if you are willing to spend the money, you won't be disappointed. This model is for anyone who needs hearty, weather-resistant pants and doesn't mind spending to get them.
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable
Look good
Versatile
Blocks wind and water better than most
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
No rear pockets
Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 13, 2023, to ensure that it reflects the most recent version of the Gamma Pant.

Compare to Similar Products

 
arc'teryx gamma pant
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $200.00 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$69.26 at Backcountry
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$90 List$42.48 at Backcountry
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$80 List
$55.93 at REI
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Bottom Line The right pair of pants for those who are willing to spend to get high performanceFor comfort and breathability, these pants can’t be beatAn excellent choice for anyone going straight from their desk to the trailheadThe simplest hiking pant that also proved to be the most stylish for everyday wearThese pants offer mobility without skimping on features
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Gamma Pant Outdoor Research Fe... Royal Robbins Alpin... Prana Brion II Pants REI Co-op Sahara Co...
Comfort and Mobility (35%)
7.5
9.0
7.0
7.5
7.0
Venting and Breathability (20%)
5.0
8.5
5.5
7.0
8.0
Weather Resistance (15%)
8.0
6.5
7.5
5.5
5.0
Features (15%)
6.5
5.0
6.5
5.0
7.5
Versatility (15%)
8.5
7.5
8.0
8.0
5.0
Specs Arc'teryx Gamma Pant Outdoor Research Fe... Royal Robbins Alpin... Prana Brion II Pants REI Co-op Sahara Co...
Weight 12.3 oz 12.2 oz 13.8 oz 10.7 oz 11.9 oz
Material 88% nylon, 12% elastane 86% nylon, 14% spandex; 90D stretch woven ripstop 66% nylon, 31% polyester, 3% spandex 95% recycled nylon, 5% spandex 96% recycled nylon, 4% spandex
Water Resistance DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish
Sizing (Waist, Length Options) W: 28" - 44"
L: 31.5" - 33"
W: 28" - 42"
L: 30"- 36"
W: 30" - 46"
L: 30" - 34"
W: 28" - 42"
L: 28" - 36"
W: 28"- 50"
L: 28" - 34"
Sun Protection not specified UPF 50 UPF 50+ UPF 50 UPF 50
Pants/Shorts Convertibility No (but have ankle cinch cord) No (but have ankle cinch cord and fully convertible version available) No (but have ankle cinch cord) No Yes
Pockets 2 hand zip, 1 thigh zip 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh zip, 1 coin 2 hand, 2 back, 1 coin 2 hand, 2 back velcro, 2 thigh (1 zip, 1 flap)
Waist Strap and Fastener Button and zip fly, Integrated belt with metal hook closure Button and zip fly Snap and zip with French fly Button and zip fly Button and zip fly, elastic across back
Other Features Gusseted crotch, articulated knees, integrated belt Drawcord cuff closures, side zip pocket Gussetted crotch, tapered leg, cinch cord at cuff Gusseted crotch, belt loops, mesh pockets Removable legs with color-coded zippers and vertical zippers, elastic in waist

Our Analysis and Test Results

This pair is both comfortable and weather-resistant. The 88/12 nylon/elastane blend makes for stretchy mobility, while the DWR coating and tight fabric weave combine to create a wind and water-resistant award winner. The fabric is noticeably heartier than some other models in this review and resistant to catching on thorns and branches. All in all, we are really pleased with these pants.

Performance Comparison


arc'teryx gamma pant - in addition to all of their outdoor uses, we found that these pants...
In addition to all of their outdoor uses, we found that these pants are excellent for air travel as well.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort and Mobility


The fabric blend on this model is excellent. It includes a higher-than-typical proportion of elastane, which increases their stretchability quite a bit. It is all the more impressive that these pants are also durable. The crotch is gusseted, and the extra fabric creates a modest amount of additional 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.

arc'teryx gamma pant - the lined waist and blunted corner near the snap make for a...
The lined waist and blunted corner near the snap make for a comfortable pair of pants.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

With its straight-leg fit and articulated knee, the Gamma still allows 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 hiking pants that rubs against the stomach. Though they aren't advertised as slim fit, we still think that they are a tighter pair of pants geared toward skinnier hikers.

arc'teryx gamma pant - the gusset (diamond shape) in the crotch creates a little more space...
The gusset (diamond shape) in the crotch creates a little more space in this technical, form-fitting pair of pants.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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 many others in our lineup.


On the plus side, they are relatively 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 design stays put securely, meaning that we didn't have to stop to pull 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.

arc'teryx gamma pant - the cinch cord at the ankle allows you to roll up the legs if you...
The cinch cord at the ankle allows you to roll up the legs if you start to get too hot.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


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 (if that's what you're after, check out our review of the best rain pants), 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 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 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 pants into a makeshift gaiter somewhat effectively. If you pair these pants with mid- or high-ankle boots, 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.

arc'teryx gamma pant - the dwr coating on the gamma facilitates excellent beading.
The DWR coating on the Gamma facilitates excellent beading.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Features


The features of these pants are high value-add. They have two handwarmer pockets with zippers and an exceptionally wide right thigh pocket with a zipper. We are a little disappointed that there aren't any rear pockets, but it isn't a dealbreaker.


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.

arc'teryx gamma pant - the zippered front and thigh pockets stow items securely so you...
The zippered front and thigh pockets stow items securely so you don't have to worry about them falling out.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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 the 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.

arc'teryx gamma pant - the integrated belt is one of many features that make these pants...
The integrated belt is one of many features that make these pants stand out.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Versatility


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 frontcountry 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.

arc'teryx gamma pant - this model is made for hiking on cool fall days.
This model is made for hiking on cool fall days.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Should You Buy the Arc'teryx Gamma?


The Arc'teryx Gamma offers high performance in high-quality pants. These pants are worth the investment if you are a frequent cool-weather or wet-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, there are cheaper options that perform 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.

What Other Hiking Pants Should You Consider?


If you want pants that are a little lighter and geared toward slightly warmer weather, you can't go wrong with the Outdoor Research Ferrosi or Patagonia Quandary. For an even sleeker pair of office-worthy trousers, we recommend the Royal Robbins Alpine Road or the Prana Brion II for a more casual look in town. For better ventilation or straight-up convertibles, you can't go wrong with the REI Sahara Convertible or the Prana Stretch Zion II with roll-up legs.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch