While this jacket was one of the top performers in weather protection, it did not do as well during intense activity as the fleece liner prevented it from being as breathable as its lighter weight cousin the Gamma LT. We would recommend the Gamma MX Hoody for those living in colder climates or who favor the additional wind protection, and the LT version for a more active profile.
Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Athletic fit, intelligent pocket placements, stylish look
Cons: Fitted cuffs, shorter waist cut, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody is a trim-fitting softshell jacket that offers excellent weather protection and additional warmth, has features that are well-thought out and user-friendly and is stylish enough to wear in the mountains or out to dinner. This jacket performed best during lower exertion activities in cold weather, as other models did better in warmer or more active conditions.
The "MX" in Gamma MX stands for mixed weather, and this is a jacket that does better than most in these challenging conditions. The 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.
With a large helmet compatible hood, the Gamma MX Hoody is capable of sealing around the face and the high zipper closes securely around the chin with a comfortable brushed fleece backing. The wrist cuffs utilize a fitted gasket that is somewhat stretchy. This fits our wrists quite comfortably seals effectively, though it is tough to fit these cuffs over lightweight gloves.
The Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody uses a proprietary fabric comprised of polyester/nylon/elastane, called Fortius 2.0, has been one of our reviewer's favorites for traveling in colder temperatures during moderately aerobic activities like ice climbing 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. We found that during extended activity we were noticeably wetter between the inner lining of our softshell and the exterior of our fleece mid layer than when wore a softshell without a lining. 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.
Arcteryx is known for 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 describe this jacket as being hip length, though we found that it barely covered our waist. Given that the arm length and torso was also close-fitting to the point of being snug when layered over a mid layer such as a Patagonia R1 Hoody, consider sizing up one size in this jacket.
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 to 3.5 inches, which exposed our baselayers or skin, and pulled the jacket from under the harness while climbing. Consider a more extended cut jacket like the Mountain Hardwear Touren to provide more coverage in the back for skiing and climbing, especially if you have a longer torso.
The Gamma MX jacket has a verified weight of 1.3 pounds. This is the same weight as the Columbia Ascender and Mountain Hardwear Touren. It is much more of a capable jacket than the Ascender, though we gave the Touren a higher score for having more coverage and better features for the same weight. This jacket is also bulkier, which does not make much of a difference while being worn as it is much more soft and flexible than the North Face Apex Bionic 2, but when stuffed in a pack it takes up much more room than a lighter weight model like the Psiphon FL.
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. The full-sized hood accommodates both ski and climbing helmets and has a three-way cinch system with hidden cord locks to ensure a tight seal around the face. 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 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.
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 five subtle colors that would not seem out of place in an urban setting.
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.
At $349, this is tied for 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, though a lighter (less expensive) shell with a light new fleece base layer would be less expensive and more versatile.
The Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody is a softshell jacket that has additional fleece backing that serves to further protect from the wind as well as lightly insulate the user in colder weather activities. For the mountain enthusiast who also wants to look good and stay protected from the elements while in the harshest conditions that a softshell jacket can (or should) handle, then the Gamma MX Hoody might be just the shell you need.
— Ryan Huetter