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Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck - Women's Review

This high performance synthetic layer is ready for pretty much any adventure you dream up
arc'teryx rho lt zip neck for women base layer review
Our lead tester was impressed with the solid performance of the Rho LT during a trail run from Upper Pines to the incredible vista of Glacier Point in Yosemite Valley.
Credit: Trish Matheny
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $130 List
Pros:  Cozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, versatile, stash pocket, kangaroo pouch, high quality
Cons:  Expensive, not super breathable, boxy updated fit
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2022
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
79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 19
  • Warmth - 25% 9.0
  • Breathability - 25% 6.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 8.0
  • Layering Ability - 20% 8.0
  • Durability - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck is our favorite synthetic base layer. As an ultra-versatile and cozy top, we found ourselves comfortable and happy on outdoor adventures ranging from campfire singing to hiking peaks above 14,000 feet. The fleece interior sits close to the skin generating warmth and thermoregulating over a wide range of temperatures. It's easy to layer with great features, like the zip-neck, a handy stash pocket on the sleeve, and a kangaroo pouch to keep those digits warm and toasty. While this is a heavier base layer and not suited for high-intensity pursuits in warmer climates, it takes home a prize because of its incredible durability, performance, and fantastic versatility. Take it with you on your next big adventure, whatever that might be.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 15, 2022, after retesting the most current version of this base layer.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $130 List$145 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Cozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, versatile, stash pocket, kangaroo pouch, high qualityBreathable, excellent thermoregulation, extra warmth with hood, easy to layerSuperior breathability, excellent warmth, long zip neck for venting, durable construction, comfortable micro grid fleece interiorAffordable, thumb loops, long cut, easy to layer over top, soft and durable fabricAffordable, thumb loops, soft fabric, great fit, durable
Cons Expensive, not super breathable, boxy updated fitExpensive, takes a few washes to increase next-to-skin comfortFabric holds odor, thumb loops lack quality, not a thermal weight despite nameMaterial is not midweightTightly woven fabric doesn't breathe very well, smelly
Bottom Line This high performance synthetic layer is ready for pretty much any adventure you dream upA top-notch lightweight performer featuring exceptional thermoregulation and breathability with an innovative Merino wool technology that gets softer with every useOutstanding warmth and breathability make this layer one of our favorites for high output mountain activitiesThis affordable base layer features ultra fine Merino wool fibers that are super comfortable next to your skin, effectively wick away moisture, and remain odor-freeThis durable base layer features a soft and stretchy fabric and a slim fit for a variety of activities, all for an affordable price
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Rho LT Zi... Black Diamond Solut... Patagonia Capilene... Ridge Merino Aspect... REI Co-op Midweight...
Warmth (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Breathability (25%)
6.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Layering Ability (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Arc'teryx Rho LT Zi... Black Diamond Solut... Patagonia Capilene... Ridge Merino Aspect... REI Co-op Midweight...
Fabric Weight Midweight Lightweight Midweight Lightweight Midweight
Measured Weight 7.5 oz 6.6 oz 6.1 oz 6.0 oz 7.5 oz
Material Torrent 190 (84% polyester, 16% elastane) 78% Merino wool, 22% polyester 92% recycled polyester, 8% spandex 84% Merino wool, 16% nylon 92% polyester, 8% spandex
Avaliable Cuts 1/4 zip, crew, hoody Crew, 1/4 zip neck/hoody Zip neck Crew, 1/4 zip Crew, 1/2 zip neck
Odor Control Fabric Polygiene Naturally odor resistant Polygiene permanent odor control Naturally odor resistant None
Thumb Loops? No Yes Yes Yes No
UPF (sun protection) No No No 50+ 50+
Length Medium Medium Medium Long Medium
Fit Trim fit Runs small Regular fit Slim Fitted, true to size
Accessory Pocket? Yes No No No No
Flat-lock Seams? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip features a deep half-zip collar with a convenient stash pocket on the left sleeve and a kangaroo pocket for keeping those hands warm and cozy when the temperatures drop. This synthetic layer effectively regulates your core body temperature, but, unfortunately, it does not breathe as well as other more porous layers due to the Polartec fleece construction. Like most synthetics, the Rho LT does retain a bit of body odor though the Polygiene treatment kept the odor at bay for most of our testing period. This is one of the warmest and most durable layers we tested, making it one of our favorite synthetic base layers for cold-weather adventures.

Performance Comparison


arc'teryx rho lt zip neck for women base layer review - the arc'teryx rho lt zip neck is a versatile synthetic layer whether...
The Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck is a versatile synthetic layer whether worn on its own or within a layering system.
Credit: Claire Maurey

Warmth


From the tops of mountains to the canyons of the desert, this roasty, toasty midweight base layer will keep you warm in those frigid conditions. Built with 84% polyester and 16% elastane, the Rho LT provides just the right amount of warmth, thanks to a shorter hip length and trim fit that locks in body heat. The fleece-lined interior and zip-up collar will keep you warm during those super cold weather days. This is a perfect base layer when worn below your down jackets for backcountry or resort skiing, as well as on its own for those shoulder season days on the trail.


While the face fabric of the Rho LT isn't windproof by any means, it does help cut the wind to a certain degree. As a result, this is a great stand-alone piece that will regulate body temperature on the move but also keep you warm while standing still. This is the warmest synthetic option we tested and one of the warmest base layers overall. Feel free to wear it under a jacket or mid-layer during the coldest days of the year or as a stand-alone piece when rock climbing or trail running during the cooler days in the spring and fall.

arc'teryx rho lt zip neck for women base layer review - the arcteryx rho lt is one of the warmest layers that we tested...
The Arcteryx Rho LT is one of the warmest layers that we tested thanks to the deep zip neck, the Torrent 190 stretch fleece, and a kangaroo pocket to keep your fingers warm.
Credit: Claire Maurey

Breathability


While warmth is a strong suit for this contender, breathability is not in comparison to other options. The fabric is relatively breathable (it is a base layer, after all), but it doesn't perform as well as other layers in this review. That said, the fleece-lined interior provides additional comfort and does an excellent job of wicking away moisture from the skin. The zipper allows for versatility, providing an option to trap or release body heat generated during activity as needed. When running, skiing, rafting, and generally playing in this top, we noticed that moisture easily transfers from the skin to the outside of the fabric.


The wicking power of the Rho LT is great, though the fabric itself is tightly woven, and the shirt doesn't have any additional venting other than the quarter zip. Options with a looser weave simply perform better in this metric. However, the Rho does cut the wind, which ultimately contributes to overall warmth, so it's just a matter of determining which aspect is more important to you. The Rho has been our favorite for running in cold weather and skiing when it's nippy outside. It functions well on its own or in a layered system.

arc'teryx rho lt zip neck for women base layer review - while the fleece-lined interior offering excellent wicking...
While the fleece-lined interior offering excellent wicking capabilities, the thicker and durable fabric doesn't breathe as well as other more porous and air permeable fabrics.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Comfort and Fit


Do you love the soft, luxurious feeling of microfleece against your skin? We sure do! The majority of our testers agreed that wearing the Rho LT Zip is like being wrapped in a soft fleece blanket all day long. The elastane in the fabric makes the fit tight but not claustrophobic, while the fleece lining is super comfortable. Though we've been psyched on the fit of previous iterations of this layer, we must admit that the latest update features a shorter hip length and a trimer fit meant to keep warmth close to the body, and our lead tester decided to go up a size. The arm lengths are perfect, but the kangaroo pocket contributes to a somewhat boxy fit.


The Rho LT is constructed with flatlock seams that don't itch or chafe the skin while on the move, and the thicker fleece-lined material adds a touch of comfort. In addition, there are a few stand-out features, like a handy pocket on the left sleeve that's perfect for stashing a key, credit card, or energy gels. Our testers love the overall stretchy fleece-lined fabric and the flatlock and merrow stitch seams, but we have to admit the boxier fit of the updated version isn't as flattering as previous iterations. That said, this layer will offer top-notch performance during the worst weather conditions.

arc'teryx rho lt zip neck for women base layer review - our testers love the laminated sleeve pocket which is great for easy...
Our testers love the laminated sleeve pocket which is great for easy access to energy gels or a small iPod.
Credit: Claire Maurey

Layering Ability


Featuring a slippery face fabric and a stretchy construction, this top is super easy to layer. Its face fabric is silky smooth and doesn't generate static cling like some of the Merino wool contenders featured in this review.


In addition to being easy to layer a down vest or jacket over the top, it's also simple to add a tank top or tech tee underneath the Rho LT. The new boxy fit with the kangaroo pocket gives this layer more room in the waist, but the arms are more fitted and may require some adjustment if you want to add another lightweight base layer with sleeves underneath. Overall, the smooth and stretchy fabric makes this top rather easy to wear alone or within a layering system.

arc'teryx rho lt zip neck for women base layer review - the smooth fabric face allows other layers to glide easily over top...
The smooth fabric face allows other layers to glide easily over top while the updated fit also allows tank tops and other base layers to fit perfectly underneath.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Durability


The Rho LT Zip is incredibly durable. With a prior version, even after six years of (ab)use, one of our testers did not notice any issues with longevity. Time will tell if the updated version is as strong. Regarding odor, like most synthetic shirts, we noticed that the "odor-resistant" Polygiene treatment did a pretty good job for a bit, but its effectiveness started to wan after a couple of months.


In general, Arc'teryx is renowned for their fantastic construction, and the high-quality craftsmanship is obvious on the Rho LT. The reinforced seams and stitching set this layer apart from other brands. While the initial investment is higher than most, we do not think you will be disappointed by the performance and durability you receive in return.

arc'teryx rho lt zip neck for women base layer review - the rho lt features a high quality and durable design due to its...
The Rho LT features a high quality and durable design due to its reinforced seams and performance stretch fabric.
Credit: Claire Maurey

Should You Buy the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck?


While the price tag for the *Rho LT Zip is on the steep side, we think it's fair for what you get. This base layer offers many performance attributes and incredible durability that you wouldn't be able to find in most other layers available today. Given that a previous iteration of this top lasted us over six years, we can attest to the fact that despite the high price, the value and quality won't disappoint. This layer is best for those seeking maximum warmth during the colder months in exchange for their initial investment.

What Other Base Layers Should You Consider?


If you're looking for a more affordable and breathable synthetic base layer that doesn't sacrifice high performance, check out the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip-Neck. If you want warmth and versatility without the lingering odor, look to our favorite Merino option, the Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Quarter Zip.

Trish Matheny
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