The Arcteryx Gamma MX jacket is the most tailored, form-fitting softshell jacket in our review. It is an excellent garment for active people who do not need the extra protection of a hood, or for casual occasions where a clean, trim fit is indicated.
On a favorite short hike near town, the Gamma MX is a comfortable companion.
The Gamma MX jacket uses the proven stretch fabric they have long used in their Gamma line, a fabric that effectively blocks wind, snow and light rain. This stretch woven Fortius 2.0 fabric keeps the elements at bay, beading water off in light precipitation thanks to its DWR treatment. However, with prolonged exposure to moisture, like all softshell jackets, this one will wet through, and at a faster rate than shells with a heavier coating like The North Face Apex Bionic 2.
The clean pocket design on the Gamma MX is stylish and also keeps the weather outside where it should be.
This jacket suffers some reduction in weather-proofness due to its lack of a hood. Its high cut waist does not extend much past the waistline, and its wrist cuffs do not employ any adjustable, Velcro closures. While we loved this layer for high output activities on brisk days where the threat of precipitation was minimal, we tended to prefer the extended protection offered by hooded jackets such as the Rab Torque.
This competitor, which uses a proprietary fabric comprised of polyester/nylon/elastane, called Fortius 2.0, had been one of our reviewer's favorites for traveling in colder temperatures during aerobic activities like mountain biking and ski touring. The fabric is air permeable and does effectively pass moisture through to keep your body dry and cool during activity, though the fleece backed lining does inhibit this to some extent. Unlined jackets like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi and the Arcteryx Psiphon FL did a better job of keeping the moisture passing through without wetting out on interior materials.
Chilly north winds were in the forecast, and the Gamma MX kept them from cooling us down.
Arcteryx has long been known for their well-fitting garments that feel tailored in all of the right places. The Gamma MX is no exception. It is a trim, athletic fit, despite descriptions from Arcteryx claiming a regular fit. They also claim a hip length, while we found it to be barely below our waist; one of the highest waistlines that we tested in contrast to lower cut jackets, like the Patagonia Adze which offers more coverage.
The stretch woven panels of the Gamma MX move well with the body. Despite having no means to secure the cuffs other than a fitted gasket, we did not experience any drop in the cuff while reaching overhead. We did, however, note that while reaching above, the hem would rise up to 3.5 inches, which exposed our baselayers or skin, and pulled the jacket from under the harness while climbing. Consider a longer cut jacket like the Mountain Hardwear Dragon to provide more coverage, especially if you have a longer torso.
A great layer for day hikes and backpacking trips, the Gamma MX is a top-tier jacket.
The Gamma MX jacket has a verified weight of 1.1 pounds, making it the fifth lightest jacket we reviewed, right in the middle of the pack. It has the same weight as the Marmot ROM, which has a slightly thinner fabric but does have a hood. This jacket uses good, medium weight fabric and fleece backing in the body of the jacket, but sheds weight by having a smaller fit, less coverage, and no hood.
The Gamma MX is lightly insulated with this fleece fabric interior. It does inhibit breathability to some extent, but is warmer than others.
Like the rest of the Gamma models we have worn, the Gamma MX jacket has well-thought-out features that climbers and skiers can appreciate. Despite not having a hood, the collar is lined with soft fleece, and a rubber gasket backs the zipper. There are two handwarmer pockets, as well as two Napolean style chest pockets that are easier to access if you are wearing a harness or a pack. The left shoulder features a small zippered pocket that we like to stash a GU gel pack or our XC ski pass in. Unlike the Patagonia Adze or Black Diamond Dawn Patrol there are no interior pockets. While the wrist closures are not adjustable, they do form a pretty good seal around the wrist. Those wishing to wear gloves, however, likely will prefer a jacket with adjustable cuffs to be able to tuck the gloves inside the wrist.
The non-adjustable wrist cuffs tend to bunch up when wearing all but the thinnest gloves.
We were impressed by the style of the Gamma MX jacket. It is clean cut, has a tailored, athletic fit, and is equally fashionable on the cliffs or at the coffee shop. It is more functional than the casual The North Face Apex Bionic 2 or Columbia Ascender and is available in four subtle colors that would not seem out of place in an urban setting.
The high waist of the Gamma gives it a nice look, though it decreases its weather resistance in snowy climates.
The Gamma MX jacket is a great choice for those who want adventure-inspired features in a stylish design that can perform well in the backcountry and casual venues. It is not inexpensive and lacks certain features that those in marginal weather conditions will demand, but in cool, mostly dry conditions during aerobic activity, this is one of the jackets we kept pulling off the hanger.
The handy shoulder pocket of the Gamma MX is perfect for a ski pass or a light snack.
At $299, this is the most expensive jacket we tested by a long-shot. Arcteryx is known for their well designed and tailored jackets, and the contrast between the fit of this jacket and a less expensive one is noticeable, but for the price and the lack of a hood or cuff closures, it is not the best value of this review.
Hoodless jackets are ideal for those who do not want the extra bulk of a hood, or only plan on using their softshell jackets during cold, windy weather conditions. For these endeavors, and for those who desire a hoodless jacket for around town casual activities, then the Arc'teryx Gamma MX is an excellent choice, as it combines proven alpine performance with refined, clean styling.