This jacket fits in with some of the heavier insulated models that we have tested, a stark contrast with the very light, active insulated layers that have come to dominate the synthetic jacket market. It is warm and provides good weather resistance, but is also heavy, bulky, and doesn't breathe super well, trade-offs that you would expect considering the extra warmth provided. It is also one of the more expensive offerings reviewed here.
This is one of the warmer models in our review. Perfect for chilly mornings, but not very breathable.
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 active or hybrid competitors. Its added warmth means that it is slightly less versatile than lighter jackets. 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.
We feel like this jacket offers good mobility and we especially like the snug elastic cuffs. We do wish the hemline was lower.
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.
Unfortunately, the Atom AR does not stow away into its own pocket. Here we tucked it into its hood.
As we've come to expect from Arc'teryx, the Atom AR sports a fine set of features that make 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. This jacket sports 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.
The hem cinch stays out of the way and seals in the warmth.
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.
The hood fits well with or without a helmet and secures with a rear cinch cord. It's well insulated and feels very warm.
This jacket 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 more breathable jackets need a light shell layer over top in unpleasant conditions, this jacket does a great job blocking cold, gusty winds. 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.
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 point out that the plethora of selections in the lightweight, stretch active genre would be better mid-layer choices if you're really pushing hard and have the potential to overheat. These jackets simply breath better for use as a mid-layer.
This Jacket is perfect for a crisp, beautiful morning hanging out in the Buttermilks.
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.
Our tireless tester all set for another chilly day in the Owens River Gorge. He's happy to have this jacket for shady belays were the sun only hits the canyon floor for a few hours during the winter.
While it ties a few other jackets for the highest price point if sold at retail, we feel 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.