Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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