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Arc'teryx Rho Hoody - Women's Review

This high quality synthetic design offers maximum warmth through versatile and thoughtful design features geared towards efficient cold weather performance
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Arc'teryx Rho Hoody - Women's Review
Credit: Trish Matheny
Price:  $130 List
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Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 4, 2024
82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 20
  • Warmth - 25% 9.0
  • Breathability - 20% 6.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 9.0
  • Durability - 15% 9.0
  • Drying Speed - 10% 8.0
  • Layering Ability - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Rho Hoody is for those seeking to invest in a high-quality and durable synthetic base layer that is ready to take on any cold weather adventure. The polyester and elastane fabric construction, as well as the brushed Torrent interior, help to speed up drying time while remaining incredibly comfortable next to your skin. The trim fit reduces drafts and bulk while enhancing the garment's layering ability. The neck warmer, hood, and optional full-face balaclava add to the Rho's overall warmth and versatility, though this wouldn't be our first recommendation for year-round performance. Easily selected as the synthetic favorite of our testing team, this garment offers efficient protection for a variety of snow-specific sports. Our women's base layer review shows how it stacks up versus competing products.
REASONS TO BUY
Soft and stretchy fabric
Excellent fit
Versatile warmth
Quality construction
Quick drying
Fantastic stand alone layer
Hole in hood to reduce bulk
REASONS TO AVOID
Pricey
No thumb loops or stash pockets
Fabric smells over time
Editor's Note: this review was updated on April 4,2024 to include new recommendations for other top performers, in addition to new photos and videos for the updated color option.

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Bottom Line This layer is perfect for cold weather pursuits thanks to its quick-drying synthetic construction, trim fit, and versatile featuresBuilt for high-output adventure, this lightweight base layer hoody offers an excellent warmth to weight ratio and maximum breathabilityYour investment is rewarded with a 100% Merino wool design thats functional and built to lastA slim fitting and durable synthetic base layer with a modest price tagThe perfect Merino wool base layer crew when worn on its own in cool temperatures or layered beneath your cold weather kit for the coldest months of the year
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Rho Hoody... Black Diamond Solut... Icebreaker Merino 2... REI Co-op Midweight... Smartwool Classic A...
Warmth (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Breathability (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Durability (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Drying Speed (10%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Layering Ability (10%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Specs Arc'teryx Rho Hoody... Black Diamond Solut... Icebreaker Merino 2... REI Co-op Midweight... Smartwool Classic A...
Measured Weight (Size Small Unless Noted) 7.6 oz (size medium) 6.1 oz (size medium) 6.3 oz 7.4 oz 4.5 oz
Material Torrent 190: 84% polyester/16% elastane 78% Merino wool, 22% polyester 100% Merino wool 92% recycled polyester, 8% spandex 88% Merino wool, 12% nylon core
Weight Class Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight Lightweight
Fit (Tester Verified) Slim fit Slim fit Slim fit Regular fit Regular fit
Torso Length Medium Medium Medium Medium Medium
Thumb Loops No Yes No No No
Odor Control Fabric Polygiene treatment Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant None Naturally odor resistant
UPF Sun Protection None listed None listed None listed 50+ None listed
Flat-lock Seams Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Avaliable Cuts Crew, hoody, zip neck Crew, 1/4 zip neck/hoody Crew, 1/2 zip neck Crew, 1/2 zip neck Crew

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Rho Hoody quickly became the favorite of our testing team thanks to its trim fit and versatile warmth. Though advertised as a lightweight base layer, the balaclava-style hood adds significant warmth, functioning as a full-face balaclava or simply as a cozy neck warmer. The soft, quick-drying fabric feels great next to the skin, even if the synthetic fibers retain a little odor. For those looking to invest in a high-quality base layer that will last for many years, this is a solid consideration, designed to offer efficient protection with cold weather performance in mind.

Performance Comparison


arc'teryx rho hoody for women - our lead tester was grateful to have the versatile and high...
Our lead tester was grateful to have the versatile and high performance of the Rho Hoody along for a spring training run in unsettled mountain weather.
Credit: Trish Matheny


Warmth


The Rho Lightweight is one of the warmest layers in our testing group. Though advertised as lightweight, due to its thin polyester construction, we consider it more of a versatile midweight layer, able to function well in a layered system or as a stand-alone piece. The high neck, hood, and optional full-face balaclava feature help to contain or offload excess body heat generated during cold weather activity.


During our spring testing period, we were grateful to have this layer along for an alpine mission in the High Sierra. Not only did the layer help cut the wind and contain body heat thanks to its trim-fitting design, but we also appreciated the sun protection offered by the balaclava. This is easily our top choice for cold weather performance, though it may be a little overkill for the warmer months of the year.

We love the versatile warmth of the hood and balaclava when unpredictable weather hits.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Breathability


Though the Rho Lightweight boasts moisture-wicking capabilities and the Torrent stretch fleece with Polygiene treatment does indeed help enhance moisture management, we did not find this layer to breathe as well as other high-performing base layers in our testing group. The polyester and elastane fabric combination allows the layer to wick moisture away from the body, though the fabric can hang onto a little moisture in places not receiving a significant amount of airflow. That said, we noted that when the fabric became saturated with sweat during activity, it dried quickly on the body.


Our lead tester used this lack of breathability to her advantage by selecting the Rho for adventures that benefitted from maximum warmth and protection from the wind. Beyond that, if breathability is key to your base layer selection, we'd recommend other more air-permeable options in our lineup.

arc'teryx rho hoody for women - the lightweight synthetic fabric is designed to breathe well and...
The lightweight synthetic fabric is designed to breathe well and wick moisture away from the body.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Comfort and Fit


Arc'teryx designed the Rho Lightweight with comfort in mind. This layer features their Torrent 190 fabric, comprised of 84% polyester and 16% elastane, along with their Torrent stretch fleece that is brushed for maximum softness and comfort next to the skin. The flatlock and merrow stitch seams let the layer lay flat, reducing chafing or irritation in high-output areas.


The current fit has changed dramatically from previous iterations of this garment. Arc'teryx traded the boxy fit and kangaroo pockets of the former Rho for a very trim-fitting layer designed to remain close to the body, especially in the chest and waist. This minimal design is focused on optimizing full range of motion, eliminating unnecessary bulk, and increasing comfort when layering for cold weather. Our testers never felt restricted by the trim fit but rather appreciated the lack of bulk and reduced draft from cold air.

The Rho features a slim fit.
The Rho features a slim fit.
The torso and arms lengths are perfect for those after a longer fit.
The torso and arms lengths are perfect for those after a longer fit.
We appreciate a slim fit that doesn't hinder mobility or range of motion.

Durability


After climbing multiple pitches of sharp granite in addition to bushwhacking to our favorite alpine climbs in the High Sierra, our testing team is happy to report that we experienced no durability issues with this high-quality layer. Whether worn within a layered system or as a stand-alone piece, the flatlock construction and merrow stitch seams showed little to no signs of wear.


Perhaps our only complaint about this superior base layer is that the Polygiene treatment fails to control the body odor retained within the synthetic fibers. Otherwise, we believe you get what you pay for, a very high-quality, thoughtfully made, and high-performing synthetic base layer that will last for many adventures to come.

arc'teryx rho hoody for women - though the merrow stitch seams can get a little fuzzy if they...
Though the merrow stitch seams can get a little fuzzy if they interact with velcro, they offer a ton of durability and solid structure to the Rho design.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Drying Speed


The Rho is one of the fastest-drying base layers we tested, which is quite impressive considering the overall thickness of the layer. When performing our spring drying tests in the Eastern Sierra at 7,000 feet with 25% humidity in 71°F temps, this layer dried entirely within only 40 minutes. This is after being fully dunked in a local stream, wrung out, then tossed on the line to dry in the sun.


After working up a sweat on a rigorous trail run later in the spring, our testing team noted this layer only required 25 minutes to dry completely on the body post-activity. The only other base layers in our testing group to dry faster have significant lofts and see-through designs that allow for an impressive amount of air to permeate. Though not the best performer in terms of wicking capabilities, the Rho dries fast and scored well in this metric.

arc'teryx rho hoody for women - synthetics are known for their faster drying speed and the rho is no...
Synthetics are known for their faster drying speed and the Rho is no different whether on the line or on the body post activity.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Layering Ability


The minimalist design of the Rho Hoody features a trim fit and articulated patterning designed to remain close to the body, making it an ideal piece for layering within a cold weather system. One feature that helps this hoody stand apart from the rest is the small opening in the hood that allows you to pull your ponytail through to reduce bulk below another hood or helmet. Those with thick and long hair, like our lead tester, will definitely appreciate this unique feature.


Though our testers found this top difficult to layer anything more than a tank top underneath, the smooth synthetic polyester fabric is easily layered over the top. It's clear that this layer was designed with ease of motion and layering in mind, making it ideal for cold-weather pursuits, whether layered below a jacket or worn alone.

The combination of the slim-fitted design along with the smooth synthetic fabric makes this top easy to layer when a puffy jacket over top.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Should You Buy the Arc'teryx Rho Hoody?


If you are looking to invest in a high-quality base layer that will offer versatile and efficient performance for many adventures to come, this is a great option to consider. The thoughtful design features allow for versatile warmth thanks to a neck warmer, hood, and full-face balaclava, in addition to top-notch comfort, a trim fit, and durable stitching and construction. Though one of the most expensive options we tested, this base layer lives up to all the hype.

arc'teryx rho hoody for women - the rho hoody is the perfect option for those looking to invest in a...
The Rho Hoody is the perfect option for those looking to invest in a layer that maximizes synthetic year round performance.
Credit: Trish Matheny

What Other Base Layers Should You Consider?


If you like the idea of a fully synthetic base layer but desire a little more breathability for high-output activity, check out the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip-Neck. If you are interested in other high-performing hoody options that feature a Merino blend to reduce the smell of body odor, the Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Quarter Zip and the Ridge Merino Convict are great choices. And finally, if you're looking for synthetic performance at a fraction of the cost, the REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer Crew is our favorite budget option.

arc'teryx rho hoody for women - the rho hoody offers a unique and versatile design.
The Rho Hoody offers a unique and versatile design.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Trish Matheny