Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody Review
Compare prices at 2 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 Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody is a trim-fitting softshell jacket that offers excellent weather protection and warmth. It 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 performs best during lower exertion activities in cold weather.
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 a proven stretch fabric Arc'teryx has 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.
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 fit our wrists quite comfortably and sealed effectively, though it is tough to fit these cuffs over even lightweight gloves.
The Gamma MX 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 effectively passes moisture through to keep the body cool and dry 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 we wore a softshell without a lining. Unlined jackets do a better job of keeping the moisture passing through without wetting out interior materials.
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 are also close-fitting, (to the point of being snug when layered over a mid-layer), consider sizing up for 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. The hem, however, rises considerably. For us, this exposed baselayers and skin and pulled the jacket from under a harness while climbing.
The Gamma MX jacket has a verified weight of 21 ounces for a medium. It is, however, a much more capable jacket than others that weigh the same or more. It's also bulkier, but the soft and flexible fabric expertly masks this. That being said, when stuffed in a pack, it takes up much more room than a lighter weight model, so be prepared.
Like the rest of the Gamma models we have worn, the Gamma MX 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 easy to access if you are wearing a harness or a pack.
The left shoulder features a small zippered pocket that we like for stashing a GU gel pack or our ski pass. 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, though the sleeves are fitted enough to accommodate gloves going over the top as well.
Style-wise, we are continually impressed with the Gamma MX. It is clean-cut, has a tailored, athletic fit, and is equally fashionable on the cliffs or at the coffee shop. It is available in attractive colors that are not out of place in an urban setting.
This is one of the most expensive jackets we tested. Arc'teryx is known for its excellent design and tailoring, and the contrast between the fit of this jacket and a less expensive one is certainly noticeable. However, a lighter shell with a light new fleece base layer is likely a less expensive and more versatile option.
The Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody is a softshell jacket with an additional fleece backing for protecting and insulating from the wind and light precipitation in colder weather activities. For the mountain enthusiast who also wants to look good and stay protected from the elements when in the harshest conditions that a softshell jacket can (or should) handle, the Gamma MX might be just the shell you need. It's impeccable construction ensures this layer will be able to withstand many years and adventures.
— Ryan Huetter