The Arc'teryx 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 both in the mountains and 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.
Hiking on a cold and breezy fall day was a great place for this softshell to shine.
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.
In a light drizzle water beads right off, though in a prolonged shower the fabric began to wet out along the shoulders and back.
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 and seals effectively, though it is tough to fit these cuffs over lightweight gloves.
The Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody uses a proprietary fabric comprised of polyester/nylon/elastane called Fortius 2.0. It has been one of our lead 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 Arc'teryx Tenquille did a better job of keeping the moisture passing through without wetting out on interior materials.
This jacket does breathe, but given the fleece backing, is better suited for lower-output activities like hiking, climbing, or backcountry skiing.
Arc'teryx 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 Arc'teryx 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 Patagonia Galvanized to provide more coverage in the back for skiing and climbing, especially if you have a longer torso.
As you can see, this product does a pretty good job of staying on Phil's wrist even without velcro. What you can't see is that it pulled up a little at the waist. We give it an 8 out of 10 for mobility.
The Gamma MX jacket has a verified weight of 1.3 pounds. This is the same weight as the Columbia Ascender. It is much more of a capable jacket than the Ascender. 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 Sigma SL.
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 three-way closure on the hood is easy to operate, even with gloved hands.
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.
The fitted cuffs offer the best seal of any of the jackets that employ them, though we prefer velcro wrist closures for more usefulness with 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 several 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. Arc'teryx 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 Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody is a softshell jacket that has an 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, the Gamma MX Hoody might be just the shell you need.