The Arc'teryx Atom AR, with double the torso insulation of the lightly insulated jackets, makes an excellent mid-layer for truly cold weather and stylish outerwear. This is a beefy, well-built jacket with a heavier, more durable shell fabric than most we tested. The fleece-lined hand pockets, single-pull hood adjustment, stretchy wrist-hugging cuffs, and fancy main zipper pull are the type of superior features Arc'teryx is known for. This jacket's little brother, the Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody, is a time-tested lightly insulated jacket with breathable fleece panels under the arms.
Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Warm, comfy adjustable hood, great wrist cuffs, fleece-lined pockets
Cons: Bulky, relatively expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This jacket fits in with some of the heavier insulated models like the Rab Nimbus, the Patagonia Hyper Puff and the Patagonia Hyper Puff Storm. If you're looking for something a bit less bulky, consider our Editors' Choice Rab Xenon X Hoodie with its excellent wind and water resistance. Like the fit of the AR but need more breathability? Check out Arcteryx's breathable and durable Proton LT.
The Atom AR uses twice as much insulation (120 g/m2 Coreloft) around the torso in comparison to the lightly insulated models we tested. This jacket is much warmer and significantly less breathable than the Arcteryx Atom LT. Anecdotally, we see more folks rocking the Atom LT, likely because it's a more versatile layer. The AR remains warm while reducing bulk by using less insulation in key areas - 80 g/m2 under the arms where it is often compressed anyway and 60 g/m2 for the hood - both allowed for cozy warmness and excellent mobility. The warm hood cinches tight with a rear cord lock and the stretchy, snug-fitting cuffs seal in warmth. As with many of the Arc'teryx models we've tested, our testers wish the hem was lower. The AR is a notch down from the Hyper Puff, our Top Pick for Warmth in this metric.
Weight & Compressibility
Warmth comes with trade-offs, and this model is one of the bulkier and heavier ones we tested. Unfortunately, the AR does not stow into one of its pockets, so you can't clip it to a climbing harness or backpack. We managed to compress it into a nice package by cramming it into its hood and tightening the drawstring.
As we've come to expect from Arc'teryx, the Atom AR sports a fine set of features that makes it super comfortable. Additionally, its athletic cut and incorporation of three different thicknesses of insulation create great mobility. It also features a relatively long waist hem that stays put when lifting the arms. The wrist cuffs and waist hem are top notch. Both this jacket and its little brother, the Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody, sport low profile, snug fitting cuffs with a wedge of stretchy fabric sewn in. These are comfortable, seal in heat, and are easier than others to slide under gloves. Finally, the hem tightens with easy-to-use cord locks on both the left and right side.
An adjustable hood sets this jacket apart from some of its competitors, but there are no soft fleece bits to rest against the chin. One elastic cinch with a cord lock at the back of the head snugs it up to seal out the weather and a stretchy sleeve at the back of the neck seals in heat. One internal zippered chest pocket is perfect for securing valuables around town or keeping your snacks from freezing in the backcountry. The zippered hand pockets are relatively shallow but are lined with a soft micro-fleece. Overall, this jacket earned a comfort score right up there with our award winners.
This jacket, like the award-winning Xenon X, has a near continuous outer fabric. Fewer seams mean fewer places water can seep in if you get stuck in a downpour. This jacket's fabric continued to bead water well throughout our testing, and we feel Arc'teryx's DWR treatment is one of the best. The continuous shell and thick insulation also lead to excellent wind resistance. While a breathable jacket like the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody or Outdoor Research Ascendent Hoody needs a light shell layer over top in unpleasant conditions, this jacket does a great job blocking cold, gusty wind. With the snug cuffs and hood in the mix, we don't hesitate to use this as a stand-alone outer layer on clear, windy days in the mountains. If you're after insulation with the best weather protection, take a look at the Patagonia Micro Puff Storm, the only completely waterproof model in our review.
The trade-off for great wind resistance is relatively poor breathability. While this model's lining wicks well, it is not a jacket you want to keep on for high energy activity unless it is frigid out. We do like to use the Atom AR under a shell in freezing weather, but the Patagonia Nano-Air or the Arcteryx Proton LT would be a better mid-layer choice if you're really pushing hard and have the potential to overheat. The Nano-Air breathes well and is the warmest of the breathable jackets when used as a mid-layer.
Our lead tester liked the cut of this jacket; with its near continuous shell, it has a clean, sleek look. We wore our blue test model around town, and the black and Proteus (gray) color options make for a nice, low-key look. It's also available in a dark blue color called "Tui" and the greenish "Everglade". If you want a warm jacket that looks great around town, the Atom AR is the way to go; it looks much nicer than the Patagonia Hyper Puff Hoody, but then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
This piece is a great mid-layer for frigid weather. It also looks great for cold nights out on the town. Finally, it's also an excellent mountain jacket on its own in clear weather and under a hardshell when snow is falling. We used ours ice climbing, alpine climbing, hiking, and downhill skiing.
At $299, this insulated jacket is competitively priced for the warmth it provides. The jacket has many refined features, looks great, and offers both comfort and versatility. Arc'teryx is known for making products that last a lifetime and have a die-hard following.
This warm, durable jacket gets most of the fine details right, and it would be hard to find a better jacket if you need a medium amount of insulation. The Arc'teryx Atom AR will keep you warm as an outer layer in all but the harshest conditions and is finely tuned as a dead-of-winter mid-layer. We find ourselves wearing it around town quite often as well.
— Matt Bento