The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody Review

This is a clean cut jacket equally at home en route to the office as it is on the trail.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $349 List | $243.93 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Athletic fit, intelligent pocket placements, stylish look
Cons:  Fitted cuffs, shorter waist cut, expensive
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 30, 2020
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9
  • Breathability - 30% 5
  • Mobility - 25% 7
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Versatility - 5% 7

Our Verdict

We have long been fans of the Gamma line of jackets from Arc'teryx, as they are durable, dependable, weather-resistant, and comfortable. This heavier jacket is lined with a fleece backing, making it a good option for colder activities like winter hiking and ski touring. With clean looks and a trim fit, it is also versatile enough to wear in casual settings. While the Gamma MX is one of the top performers in weather protection, it does not do as well during intense activity — the fleece liner prevents it from being as breathable as its lighter weight cousin and Editors' Choice winner, the Gamma LT. We recommend the MX for those living in colder climates or who favor additional wind protection, and the LT version for a more active profile and milder weather.


Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


Hiking on a cold and breezy fall day is a great place for this softshell to shine.
Hiking on a cold and breezy fall day is a great place for this softshell to shine.

Weather Protection


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.

In a light drizzle water beads right off  though in a prolonged shower the fabric begins to wet out along the shoulders and back.
In a light drizzle water beads right off, though in a prolonged shower the fabric begins 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 fit our wrists quite comfortably and sealed effectively, though it is tough to fit these cuffs over even lightweight gloves.

Breathability


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.

This jacket does breathe  but given the fleece backing it is better suited for lower-output activities like hiking  climbing  or backcountry skiing.
This jacket does breathe, but given the fleece backing it is better suited for lower-output activities like hiking, climbing, or backcountry skiing.

Mobility


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.

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.
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.

Weight


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.

Versatility


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 three-way closure on the hood is easy to operate  even with gloved hands.
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 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.

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.
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.

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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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