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Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody Review

A very warm, weather resistant hoody that easily fits over other layers but isn’t too baggy
Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody
Photo: Arc'teryx
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $299 List | $299.00 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very warm, comfortable fit, seals out the weather
Cons:  Heavier than most, not very breathable, pricey
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 27, 2021
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Weight and Compressibility - 20% 4
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Atom AR is our favorite jacket when it comes to warmth. Simply put, if you want a synthetic option to keep you as warm as possible, but don't want to step it up to a gigantic parka, then the Atom AR hoody is the jacket you are looking for. It is at least as warm, if not warmer, than every other jacket we've tested but sets itself apart by providing a much better fit with optimal mobility and super comfortable fabrics. For day in and day out winter living, we find it hard to consider any other jacket, and it also works fantastic as a warmth layer while skiing or as a belay jacket for climbing.

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Price $299.00 at REI
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Pros Very warm, comfortable fit, seals out the weatherLight, easily stowable, very weather resistantLightweight, wind and water resistant, quite warm, durable face fabricLightweight, warm, great wind protection, sheds water well, affordableComfortable, very breathable, light, stylish
Cons Heavier than most, not very breathable, priceyDoesn't breathe, expensiveExpensive, no hem drawcords, hood is slightly tight with a helmet onDoesn’t breathe well, fit isn’t very athleticHard to get the proper fit, expensive, poor weather resistance, thin
Bottom Line A very warm, weather resistant hoody that easily fits over other layers but isn’t too baggyWhen it comes to features, this jacket has everything you need and nothing you don'tA versatile and lightweight insulated jacket that offers superior weather resistance, and remains impressively warmThe best lightweight insulated outer layer is highly wind resistant and impressively warmThis iconic, active insulated midlayer offers great breathability and a light weight
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Atom AR H... Arc'teryx Nuclei FL Patagonia DAS Light... Rab Xenon Hoodie Patagonia Nano-Air...
Warmth (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Weight And Compressibility (20%)
4.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort (20%)
9.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
Breathability (15%)
4.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Arc'teryx Atom AR H... Arc'teryx Nuclei FL Patagonia DAS Light... Rab Xenon Hoodie Patagonia Nano-Air...
Measured Weight (size) 15.2 oz (S) 10.5 oz (S) 11.0 oz (S) 11.0 oz (S) 11.1 oz (S)
Insulation 120 g/m2 Coreloft body, 80 g/m2 underarms, 60 g/m2 hood - with Dope Permair 20 in armpits Coreloft (65g/m²) 65 g PlumaFill 100% recycled polyester 60 g Stratus 60 g FullRange (60% polyester, 40% recycled polyester)
Outer Fabric Tyono 30 denier nylon Arato (10D nylon ripstop) 10-D 100% nylon ripstop Pertex Endurance Atmos ripstop 87% recycled polyester, 13% polyester
Stuffs Into Itself? No Yes Yes Yes, clip loop No
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 2 internal 1 chest zippered, 2 handwarmer zippered 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered handwarmer, 1 zippered chest

Our Analysis and Test Results

Of the three Arc'teryx jackets that we have included in this review, the Atom AR is the warmest, heaviest, thickest, and also the most expensive. While many of the jackets in this review are fairly lightweight and designed to be used exclusively while working hard to stay warm (or during mild weather), the Atom AR lies at the opposite end of the spectrum. It sandwiches the thickest 120g/m2 Coreloft insulation between its fabrics to trap the most heat possible. At this task, it performs very well, scoring at the top of the pile when it comes to warmth. It also scores highly for comfort, which is why our testers loved it so much. Other super warm jackets we've tested have often run a bit small, making them hard to use as outer layers, or impeding our mobility while we have them on. Not so with the freshly updated Atom AR, which fits about as perfectly as we could expect a jacket to fit.

Speaking of the updates, in 2020, Arc'teryx made some revisions to this jacket, which are subtle but surely noticeable to those who have worn the jacket before. Besides updating the fabrics on the outside and inside, they also changed the fit a bit (it's longer in the hem) while also adapting the cuffs to be shorter and fit easily under gloves. We love the new changes and think they make a great jacket even better. This jacket comes in all sorts of different colors and sizes. While we tested the hooded version, it also comes as a jacket without a hood.

Performance Comparison


The Atom AR is a very warm yet surprisingly sleek and lightweight...
The Atom AR is a very warm yet surprisingly sleek and lightweight jacket that is one of our favorites, especially because of how comfortable it is. We could live in this jacket all winter, or use it when we take a break skiing or as a belay jacket while climbing.

Warmth


This is one of the warmest jackets in our review. Granted, you can find a much warmer jacket if you choose to look at parkas or winter jackets, but this one is designed to work as part of a layering system, and as such, is very warm. It uses primarily 120 g/m2 Coreloft insulation all about the torso and shoulders, with slightly thinner Coreloft in the hood and the arms. Considering that virtually every other jacket in this review uses an insulation in the 60g range, it is no surprise that a doubly dense insulation proves to be so warm. Despite its density, Arc'teryx has layered it quite thin so that it isn't super bulky and remains thin enough to layer over with a shell if need be.


Contributing to the warmth is the fact that all of the openings are easily sealed off. The hem, which sits below the waist, has dual drawcords for cinching it tight, while the hood has a system of three drawcords — one on the back of the head and one on each side of the face that reside inside the collar. The cuffs are made of a smooth elastic band that seals around the wrists, and the pockets are zippered so they can be sealed off when not in use. To test its warmth, we wore this jacket as a single layer over a t-shirt in 20-degree weather on numerous hikes and were always surprised how toasty we felt.

The collar very comfortably rests over the chin to protect the lower...
The collar very comfortably rests over the chin to protect the lower part of the face from biting winds, but isn't tight or constricting in any way.

Dual drawcords located on the inside of the collar allow one to...
Dual drawcords located on the inside of the collar allow one to cinch up the opening around the face, which helps seal off the opening to keep warm air in and prevent wind from entering the jacket.

Slightly redesigned, these elastic cuffs effectively seal off the...
Slightly redesigned, these elastic cuffs effectively seal off the opening around the wrists, ensuring that warmth isn't lost out of these openings.

Weight and Compressibility


We weighed our size men's small jacket at 15.2 ounces, which is a touch heavier than our previous model weighed. It is about an ounce and a half lighter than some of the other warm and heavy jackets in this review, which is an advantage. Compared to the Proton LT, it is about three ounces heavier.


Unfortunately, like all the other Arc'teryx jackets, this one does not stuff into its own pocket or come with a dedicated stuff sack. We like having this ability, especially when trying to pack all of our things into a smaller backpack, as a stuffed jacket takes up a lot less space than a loose one.

At 17.6 ounces, this jacket is certainly not one of the lightest...
At 17.6 ounces, this jacket is certainly not one of the lightest options, but is also a bit lighter than some other jackets that weren't quite as warm. It doesn't stuff into its own pocket.

Comfort


One of the main reasons we love this jacket so much is due to how comfortable it is. We consider the fit to be nearly perfect. Arc'teryx describes it as their "Regular" fit, and how this translates is that it isn't overly baggy but also leaves plenty of room around the torso for layering underneath. The sleeves are long and don't ride up when lifting the arms overhead, and the hem is likewise long enough that it doesn't ever ride above the waist, something that can't be said for every jacket we've worn. It isn't tight or constrictive in any way, and we simply love the free mobility that this fit entails.


Paired with the excellent fit are cozy materials that feel great against the skin. The interior liner of our jacket is black Dope Permeair fabric, which is entirely nylon but feels soft and comfortable against the skin — nothing like the slick, sometimes cool, and clammy nylon interior fabrics used by some jackets. The fit of the hood and collar is protective yet comfortable, and the inside of the pockets are lined with tricot fleece to make us feel all warm and snuggly.

The fit is a major factor in how comfortable this jacket is. As you...
The fit is a major factor in how comfortable this jacket is. As you can see, the hem rides low, while the sleeves don't ride up the arms at all when moving about. The articulation of the shoulders is excellent, as is the fit of the hood and collar.

The zippered handwarmer pockets are both lined with soft tricot...
The zippered handwarmer pockets are both lined with soft tricot fleece, which feels great against the skin. A small touch that makes a comfortable jacket even more cozy.

Weather Resistance


All of the openings found on this jacket seal off very well to protect one from the wind. It has a soft matte-type face fabric finish, which is in contrast to the nearly seamless slick nylon wind-shell like competition, so it isn't quite as wind resistant as some other jackets. That said, the thick and dense insulation certainly does an effective job at stopping the wind, except under the armpits, where there is thinner insulation by design.


Like most insulated jackets, this one has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating applied to the face fabric. While not waterproof, this coating forces water to bead up and fall off the jacket without soaking in, as long as it is fresh. These coatings are notorious for wearing off over time and have to be reapplied to maintain the water-resistance.

You can see areas where the DWR coating is working to shed water by...
You can see areas where the DWR coating is working to shed water by causing it to bead, and other areas where the coating has worn off and some of the water we sprayed on it is soaking into the face fabric. The insulation beneath is still capable of lofting when wet.

Breathability


This jacket is designed to be warm and thus uses a thickness of insulation that doesn't allow much air permeability. Without airflow, it's hard to say that this jacket is very breathable, especially when compared to the many lighter weight active insulated layers in this review.


If one was to work up a sweat inside this jacket and keep on working hard, there is no doubt that the physics of heat transfer would work to force the warm moist air out through the face fabrics and insulation, but this is a very uncomfortable process. We found that if we were working hard, it was much more comfortable to take the jacket off or wear a much lighter one instead to stay cool. This is a jacket you put on to keep you warm, not one to be worn during intense workouts.

The soft nylon interior liner is very comfortable against the skin...
The soft nylon interior liner is very comfortable against the skin, and also quite breathable. Considering the amount of insulation it holds in place, however, this is not a very breathable choice.

Value


Prospective buyers shouldn't expect a bargain-basement price. Like most Arc'teryx products, this jacket doesn't come cheap. It does offer great value, however, when considering the quality of construction and materials, as well as the warmth you are buying. For better performance, we think paying a higher price can be well worth it. It is only marginally more expensive than the Proton LT or Atom LT, and is quite a bit warmer than both of those, so if warmth is what you are after, this one offers the best value of the three.

While it isn't the best budget choice, there is never the less great...
While it isn't the best budget choice, there is never the less great value with the Atom AR due to its very high performance and top quality construction. Here on a hike up a snowy ridge in front of Crestone Peak in Colorado.

Conclusion


The Arc'teryx Atom AR is an optimal jacket for those who want to stay warm without wearing a huge parka. It is comfortable, fits great, and even looks sleek and suave. While it may not come at a discounted price, the performance is well worth what you have to shell out, as all of our testers agree that this is one of their favorite jackets.

On a hike during the clearing storm wearing the Atom AR. Despite the...
On a hike during the clearing storm wearing the Atom AR. Despite the very chilly temps, we were perfectly comfortable on this mountain hike with only a t-shirt on beneath.

Andy Wellman