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Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody Review

Price:   $350 List | $340.62 at Amazon
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Pros:  Cozy, hood fits well, pretty mobile
Cons:  Too many pockets, wrist cuffs only work with over-the-cuff gloves, bulky, too warm for highly active use
Bottom line:  A robust go-to for cold weather activity, the mild insulation prevents it from use in high output activities.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx

Our Verdict

If you chase the cold more often than not, then the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody will be your perfect winter companion. It cuts wind and blowing snow like a champ and offers a bit of warmth to keep you cozy as the temperatures drop. The fleece lining could be either an asset or a detriment to this jacket depending upon your intended use. For cold activities, many reviewers welcomed the extra warmth. But this also made the jacket useless for the summer. That said, we were surprised that this jacket weighs just 21 ounces, considering the added weight of the fleece lining.

At $350, the Gamma is an expensive jacket, especially considering that you could buy a softshell like the uninsulated Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell for $199 and purchase an extra layer to wear underneath if you venture into the cold. With all of that said, the Gamma MX remains an admirable piece that will be loved by many winter wanderers. Coziness is a great reason to buy a softshell and this jacket is the coziest we'd consider taking into the alpine.

If you don't need the hood, the the hoodless version saves you $50. The Women's Gamma MX is our highest scoring jacket in the women's softshell review.

RELATED REVIEW: The Best Softshell Jackets for Men

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jeremy Bauman
Review Editor

Last Updated:
November 21, 2015

Unlike previous iterations of this jacket, the Gamma MX no longer has a laminated membrane. This boosts its breathability, but decreases its weather resistance. This jacket is a durable and proven softshell fit for cold weather use all over the mountains.

Performance Comparison

After a few pitches of rock climbing  this reviewer commented  "This jacket is just so cozy!" The fleece lining is indeed comfortable.
After a few pitches of rock climbing, this reviewer commented, "This jacket is just so cozy!" The fleece lining is indeed comfortable.

Weather Protection

Older versions of the Arc'teryx Gamma MX used Polartec Power Stretch Pro (the same membrane used in the Editors' Choice Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket); however, this year's re-vamped model uses Arc'teryx's own membrane-free material. As could be expected, this caused the jacket to be less water resistant than previous versions. In our waterfall test, the jacket wetted through on the hood and shoulders after several seconds. During this test, the Gamma MX performed slightly worse than the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol, but when used in the wind, both jackets performed quite well. The biggest differentiation between the two is that the Gamma MX has a brushed fleece lining that makes it a better choice if you tend to run cold. Additionally, the seams aren't taped, which makes them an easy access point for water to seep in.

Looking for a budget option softshell with fleece-lined insulation? Check out the Patagonia Adze Hybrid Hoody that retails for $189.

As seen  this contender wasn't waterproof by any means. But it withstood the torrent for several moments before water started creeping in primarily through the seams. Still  our tester stayed mostly dry.
As seen, this contender wasn't waterproof by any means. But it withstood the torrent for several moments before water started creeping in primarily through the seams. Still, our tester stayed mostly dry.


Receiving a score of 6/10, this jacket maintains an excellent balance of weather resistance and breathability. Our only complaint would be that the jacket is too warm for highly aerobic activities in temperatures around 30-40 degrees F unless worn over just a t-shirt. Though the softshell outer fabric is capable of breathing well, the fleece lining caused us to overheat and sweat. However, once we stopped, the jacket allowed moisture to escape so we were dry within a short time. Bottom line: this jacket worked best for moderate activity in relatively mild conditions, or higher output activities in very cold and windy conditions. If you need a super breathable softshell, consider the Best Buy winning Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody.

When used over just a t-shirt  this product was breathable enough on this fall day. However  the fleece lining prohibits versatility as you wouldn't be happy moving around in it when temperatures are higher than 40 F.
When used over just a t-shirt, this product was breathable enough on this fall day. However, the fleece lining prohibits versatility as you wouldn't be happy moving around in it when temperatures are higher than 40 F.

Mobility & Fit

The Gamma MX ties for second in the mobility metric along with the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol and Patagonia KnifeRidge. The only jacket in our review that's noticeably more mobile is the Patagonia Adze Hybrid Hoody. When used for rock climbing, the Gamma stretched and moved well enough to stay out of the way. This jacket fits true-to-size and has an excellent cut. When reaching up, the hem barely rises and the cuffs barely fall. We give it an 8/10 for mobility.

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. We give it an 8 out of 10 for mobility.
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. We give it an 8 out of 10 for mobility.

Weight & Packed Size

As with the other fleece-insulated softshells we tested, this piece scored relatively poorly in this metric. The medium size we tested weighs in at 21 ounces and packs down to the size of a loaf of bread.


Pockets, pockets everywhere! Some people love pockets, others don't, others are indifferent. But if you love the enhanced jacket organization that pockets provide, then the pockets on this jacket will be the trick up your sleeve. Two hand warmer pockets keep your mitts toasty. If you're a leftie, you may hate the fact that most chest pockets are made for the right handed majority. Well, this jacket is a moderate with chest pockets for those on the right and the left. Everybody wins. Finally, there's a small arm pocket that's great for chapstick.

Most jackets we reviewed used Velcro at the cuffs, but this jacket comes fitted with no-frills elastic wrist cuffs to keep your hands cozy without the inconvenient rip of Velcro. The hood adjustments are simple and work as expected, making the hood usable with or without a helmet. When it comes to the quality of construction, you can tell that the designers of this piece thought of every detail. The seams and features feel like they were created with care.

Noticed in this photo: two napoleon pockets  one arm pocket  a hood that fits without a helmet  and hood adjustments with ends that terminate inside the hood so that they stay out of the way.
Noticed in this photo: two napoleon pockets, one arm pocket, a hood that fits without a helmet, and hood adjustments with ends that terminate inside the hood so that they stay out of the way.


As an around-town piece, this jacket has the looks you need to avoid standing out too much or too little. Hooded jackets typically don't look as classy as those without, but this jacket does come in an un-hooded version if that's your thing. Six colors let you ensure that it complements your other outdoor wear.

Best Applications

The Gamma MX has been around for multiple seasons and has been a staple piece of many outdoor users. It is an excellent jacket for anyone who wants a warm softshell that will keep most of the elements at bay while still providing good breathability. Use this jacket for cold days of ice climbing, skiing, and rock climbing. Don't use this jacket if you need to dump heat during high output activities like cross-country skiing or running.


For $349, you're paying for the Arc'teryx brand, excellent stitch quality and design, and a sweet cold weather softshell. Unfortunately, what you aren't paying for is a bargain…this is the second most expensive jacket in this review. One thing to consider, however, is that this jacket has a little bit of insulation. If this keeps you from buying a fleece to layer underneath, the increase in price could be a moot point for you.


The Gamma MX is a great softshell if you're looking for a warm active layer that breathes well and resists most weather. It is more expensive than comparable jackets, but the stitching and design is top shelf. It boasts an excellent balance of breathability and weather protection especially against the wind. This jacket feels at home in snowy environments but isn't as versatile in the summer where the fleece lining makes it too warm.

We found the Gamma MX quite stylish. It has a very clean look thanks to the flaps that conceal the napoleon chest pockets. It also fits well.
We found the Gamma MX quite stylish. It has a very clean look thanks to the flaps that conceal the napoleon chest pockets. It also fits well.
Jeremy Bauman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: March 16, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
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Write a Review on this Gear

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   Mar 16, 2016 - 10:44am
Daemon Angel · Backpacker · Belgium
Most of the review will be criticism. Apologies for this in advance. I think it is a really nice softshell. After checking multiple softshells I chose this one and I would probably do so again.
It feels comfortable and breathes well.
My Bergans softshell did better on the feature list but scored less on the breathability and weather protection.
This softshell does best (for me) on weather protection and breathability.
Water beads off the jacket perfectly and it takes quite a bit of rain without a problem.
Why all the criticism? I hope arcteryx fixes these points by the next version so I can be even more happy with it.

Something that I missed in the review and something that bothered me on the old atom LT (the new Atom LT has it) as well.
This jacket has no chin guard!!!!
Seriously? Why? And why is this not an issue in the features list?
Please add this 1 cm of fabric on all your jackets, Arcteryx…
This is standard on ALL the jackets from European outdoor brands and claimed to originate from 66°NORTH (Icelandic Brand). It helps against chafing on your chin by the zipper, helps against getting your beard pulled out by the zipper and it also helps against the zipper pull slapping you in the face in high winds. You see it on more and more non-EU brands as well but still this is not standard.
And it really does help against all these things and having spend time in Icelandic winds I can testify that it really helps against the zipper smacking you in the face and the old Atom LT was joyfully hitting me the entire time while my Haglofs puffy/Millet hardshell/Norrona windbreaker had no problems.

Having said that…

I really like the feel and fit of the jacket. I tried on some other softshells but this one fitted the nicest, feeled the softest and also looks good, which is always nice.
The fabric is really soft and supple and you are not constricted at all while wearing it.
I could breathe through the jacket, almost the same as with the Dawn patrol, easier than with the Adze and less than with the vapour rise alpine lite.
I have the Alpine lite as well and tried on the adze and the black diamond dawn patrol.
I did not pick the adze as it felt a bit too warm for use, it looked and felt really nice though. The dawn patrol was a bit too long to look good and was a bit too tight.
The Gamma mx might be a bit warm for active use in milder conditions but then I switch to a windbreaker or a lighter softshell (alpine lite fe). For the rest of the time and less active use in milder conditions it is really nice.

I like pockets on my jackets, at least 1 chest pocket and then 1 or 2 somewhere else. The chest pocket is the place for my cellphone. I like it there, always in reach and easy to take and put away. Even when running, snowboarding, climbing, cycling, etc, it is easy to take and put away there. So that is a must for me.
The other pockets are used sometimes and sometimes empty. Stashing my light gloves, keeping my hands warm, the hand pockets have their use.
The pocket on my arm is used for my small folding knife or my doggy poop bags.

The pockets are mesh lined (except the arm pocket).
Why? For ventilation is the response then.
Meaning I need to leave my pockets open for ventilation, which kinda defeats the purpose of a pocket as stuff doesn’t stay in anymore.
If they want to vent the jacket so badly use pit zips then.
And even then, for ventilation? My old motorcycle jacket had this type of vent and even at high speed on a motorcycle I got minimal airflow. On the softshell they are a bit useless and even annoying.
At least 2 of them needed to be sturdier lined.
The folding knife is in the arm pocket as this is not mesh lined. Keeping it in another pocket will kill the mesh lining really fast.
Even the cellphone is wearing down the mesh lining already.
I kept my old softshell jacket so when needed I could cut out the lining of those pockets and sew them on the arcteryx. Nice to have to do this kind of customization on a 300 dollar jacket…
I don’t really dare to put my keys in them. Sometimes do for a short moment but still …
All the pockets are nice but the 2 chest pockets should have been stronger lined / non-mesh lined.

The hood fits over a helmet easily. You can tell arcteryx is a climbing brand.
Without a helmet it is a hood all right. The fit is not that great then. The dawn patrol did a better job at this. But you can still use it when needed because you can cinch it down hard enough so it closes around your head.

A last issue are the elastic sleeve closures. The Atom LT has the same type but these on the Atom LT are way more comfortable and easier to use. They stretch enough to put on and take off the jacket with easy and are tight enough to keep any air out.
These are less stretchy, each time I pull the jacket of I’m struggling and have heard a snap on multiple occasions and feel less comfortable.
For me, they can take the exact same approach as on the Atom LT for the wrist closures.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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