The Gamma line from Arc'teryx comprises garments that are stretchy and breathable while being moderately weatherproof. The Gamma LT is the lightest weight model in this series and is designed to be worn with or without layers in warm to cool climates, while the bulkier Gamma MX uses a fleece backing and has more warmth for colder weather.
Performing well in all metrics, the Gamma was edged out by the Rab Torque for Top Pick for Climbing, though we appreciated the clean, elegant style of the Gamma more and would recommend it over the Torque for those spending equal time at the crag as well as the coffee shop.
As an all-around performer, we liked the Gamma LT for trips into the mountains as well as on local day hikes.
The Wee Burly fabric used in the Arc'teryx Gamma LT has a tight, hard-faced weave and does well at beading water off in light precipitation, thanks to an additional DWR (durable water repellent) treatment. It did wet through in the shower test; like all the softshell jackets we tested it is merely water resistant, not waterproof. It failed along the shoulders and back much sooner than the marginally lighter Dawn Patrol. The fabric is air permeable which positively affects its breathability, and it holds up to cold gusty winds well, though it is not as wind resistant as the Gamma MX (which uses a fleece inner lining.)
The hood is sized to accommodate a helmet and can be adjusted with three separate cinches. Like the Gamma MX, this coat does not have wrist closures and instead uses a fitted cuff which is a bit too tight to place over gloves.
The Wee Burly fabric has a DWR coating, that resists light rain, but won't stand up to strong showers for very long.
Earning a score of 8, the Gamma LT is more breathable than the Marmot ROM, but was not as breathable as the Rab Torque, another climbing oriented softshell that weighs nearly the same. With an unlined fabric, the Gamma LT adequately allowed moisture to pass through during strenuous activity, though with all the zippers pulled up we found ourselves getting damper in our base layers than while wearing lighter jackets such as the Ferrosi. Given that this jacket is best used by climbers and skiers who are not racing uphill at an aerobic pace, we found the breathability to be appropriate to those activities.
Booting up a steep couloir in the Eastern Sierra is taxing! Luckily this soft shell breathes well during the lung-busting climbs.
Arc'teryx has done it again with the Gamma LT, creating a well-tailored jacket that allows for freedom of movement without being too bulky. It is worn easily over insulating layers without feeling cramped and is slim enough that it looks good and moves well without feeling baggy. The use of a gusseted underarm area makes it easy for us to reach up and grab a climbing hold, and the longer cut hem gives this better protection when worn with a climbing harness, something we wish the Gamma MX also included.
This jacket is stretchy and mobile, great attributes for scrambling around in the mountains.
At 1.1 pounds, the Gamma LT is on the lighter side of average when compared to the rest of the jackets we reviewed, and given its durability, breathability, and climbing-friendly cut, it is a solid jacket for its weight. We narrowly awarded the Rab Torque the Top Pick for Climbing Award for its better breathability and mobility, though the Gamma has slightly better weather protection and style for similar weight. It may be worth considering which traits are more important to you in this weight class. Like so many Editors' Choice award winners, the Gamma takes the cake because of its balance of strengths, not specializing in one metric in particular.
The Gamma LT is light enough to stuff in the pack, so that once the gusts pick up you have the protection you need.
The Gamma LT utilizes interesting features that are useful and user-friendly. From the head down we are happy to see there is a full-sized hood with three-way adjustable cinches, with a stiffened brim to shed precipitation. The No-Slip Zip zipper uses small teeth to keep the zipper from inadvertently sliding down. We haven't found that this is so much of an issue in other jackets to require a solution for, but it works well and does keep the zipper at a comfortable height when needing to dump heat out on a strenuous uphill climb.
The stiffened brim gives some extra protection and adds some structure to the hood.
We really liked the style of the Gamma LT. It is clean cut, fits well, and is available in multiple colors that range from subtle to bright. This jacket is comfortable in the mountains but does not seem out of place worn around town or to the store.
Fitting underneath a harness well, the slightly longer length is useful and makes it more versatile.
For $249, you get a classic Arc'teryx jacket with excellent attention to detail, function, and good looks. You do pay a premium for this label, but we feel that it is a good value for the price. Arc'teryx is legendary for their extensive research and development process, and it pays off with a solid jacket that will hold up to abuse.
Whether running errands in town or heading deep into the backcountry, this is a softshell you can count on.
As the lightest jacket in the Arc'teryx Gamma collection, we like this one the most for its pared-down simplicity. It can easily be worn with extra layers for more warmth, or thrown over a light shirt in the summer climbing season. It is versatile, has a great fit, and is an excellent choice as a do-it-all softshell jacket. We heartily recommend it with our Editors' Choice Award.