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Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip - Women's Review

This high performance synthetic is ready for pretty much any adventure you dream up
Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip - Women's
Photo: Arc'teryx
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $125 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Cozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, high quality performance, versatile, stash pocket, tight fit
Cons:  More expensive, not super breathable
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Breathability - 25% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7
  • Layering Ability - 20% 9
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

Could it be love? The Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip is our favorite synthetic base layer, earning a Top Pick Award! As an ultra-versatile and cozy synthetic base layer, we found ourselves comfortable and happy on outdoor adventures ranging from campfire singing to hiking peaks above 14,000 ft. 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. While it's a warmer base layer, 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.

Color Updates

Arc'teryx continues to freshen the palette for the Rho LT. The photo above represents a current colorway.

September 2019

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Pros Cozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, high quality performance, versatile, stash pocket, tight fitWide range of thermoregulation, cozy materials, no odor after long wear, longer fit through torso and arms, versatileWarm, durable, breathable, thumb loops, 1/4 zip design vents well, excellent value, no odorAffordable, powerful wicking and breathing, easy to layer, durable constructionAffordable, durable, great drying speed and breathability, wind-resistant
Cons More expensive, not super breathableStretches after wearing for several days, thick construction isn't ideal for warmer daysNeed to size up on fit, shorter torso and arm lengthNot warm, fabric is itchy to someNot as cozy or warm as merino wool
Bottom Line This high performance synthetic is ready for pretty much any adventure you dream upThis top provides cozy comfort, top-notch thermoregulation, and resists odor build-up better than any model we testedA good looking blended polyester and merino wool top that outperforms its price tagOur favorite lightweight base layer with excellent breathability for aerobic activities and shoulder seasonsAn affordable, durable, and highly breathable synthetic base layer
Rating Categories Rho LT Zip Merino 250 1/4 Zip Base Force Heavywei... Merino 150 Crew Capilene Midweight...
Warmth (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Breathability (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Comfort And Fit (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Layering Ability (20%)
9.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Specs Rho LT Zip Merino 250 1/4 Zip Base Force Heavywei... Merino 150 Crew Capilene Midweight...
Fabric Weight Midweight (185 g/m²) Midweight (250 g/m²) Midweight Lightweight (150 g/m²) Midweight (147 g/m²)
Measured Weight (size) 7.0 oz (small) 8.4 oz (medium) 6.8 oz (med) 4.6 oz (small) 5.2 oz (small)
Material Torrent (84% polyester / 16% elastane) 100% merino wool 80% polyester, 20% wool 87% merino wool, 13% nylon core 100% recycled polyester diamond-grid double knit
Cuts avaliable 1/4 zip neck Crew, 1/4 zip 1/4 zip Crew Crew, 1/4 zip neck
Smelly over time? Yes No No No Yes
Odor Control Fabric Polygiene Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant Polygiene permanent odor control
Thumb Loops? No No Yes No Yes
UPF (Sun Protection) N/A No N/A No N/A
Length (short, medium, long) Long Medium Medium Medium Long
Fit (Based on 5'7, 140-lb woman wearing size small) Tight and long, true to fit. Fitted (not tight), true to fit. Fit is small, size up Fitted (not tight), true to fit. Fitted at top, loose around hips
Accessory Pocket? Yes (on arm) No No No No
Flat-lock seams (prevents chaffing) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip is our favorite synthetic midweight layer. It features a zip collar with a convenient stash pocket and great temperature-regulating technology that continues to exceed our expectations year after year.

Performance Comparison


The Rho LT is our favorite synthetic layer because of its great fit...
The Rho LT is our favorite synthetic layer because of its great fit and performance features tohat does well basically everywhere
Photo: Amber King

Warmth


From the tops of mountains to the canyons of the desert, this roasty, toasty midweight base layer will keep you warm in frigid conditions. Built with 84% polyester and 16% elastane, it provides a long and tight fit that locks in warmth. The fleece-lined interior, and zip-up collar retains heat that will keep you warm and cozy on cold days. It's a perfect layer for backcountry or resort skiing or even running on cooler days.


While the face fabric isn't windproof by any means, it cuts the wind to a certain degree. As a result, it's a perfect stand-alone piece that will regulate body temperature on the move and keep you warm while standing still. While it's one of our favorite go-to base layers, there are other warmer options out there.

Providing ample warmth in the high mountains of Alaska, we test the...
Providing ample warmth in the high mountains of Alaska, we test the warmth of the Rho LT while splitboarding on this eight-mile tour over glaciers and corniced precipices.
Photo: Highline Running Adventures

Overall, this is the warmest synthetic base layer tested and one of the warmest overall. It's perfect as a wear-alone piece during highly aerobic activities in the winter or while engaging in less-aerobic sports during warmer months. Feel free to wear it under a jacket or mid-layer on the coldest days of the year or as a stand-alone piece on warmer days.

A look at the super fuzzy interior of the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip that...
A look at the super fuzzy interior of the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip that we love to death.
Photo: Amber King

Breathability


While warmth is a strong suit for this contender, breathability is not in comparison to other options out. While the fabric is relatively breathable (it is a base layer of course!), it didn't perform as well as other contenders. It features a zip-up collar that allows the easy release of heat from the body, but even with this feature, it doesn't compensate for the warmth generated by the super cozy fleece that lines the interior of the shirt in addition to the tightly woven fabric. These two construction features make this shirt a little less breathable on warmer days or while breaking a sweat.


The fleece-lined interior not only provides additional comfort but does an excellent job wicking away moisture from the skin. While running, skiing, rafting, and generally playing in this top, we noticed that moisture easily transfers from the skin to the outside of the fabric.

Taking a selfie while on a run through the snowy mountain of Ouray...
Taking a selfie while on a run through the snowy mountain of Ouray, CO, testing the thermoregulation on this colder trail run after work.
Photo: Amber King

While wicking power is great, the fabric itself is tightly woven and the shirt doesn't have additional venting. The tightly woven fabric, in turn, doesn't breath as more porous options. However, it does cut the wind and ultimately contribute better to warmth. All that said, its been our favorite for running in cold weather and skiing when its nippy outside. It functions well on its own (and looks cute too!) or in a layered system.

The zip collar allows better venting than a crew-collar, increasing...
The zip collar allows better venting than a crew-collar, increasing the breathability of this top.
Photo: Amber King

Comfort & 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 Elastine in the fabric makes the fit tight but not claustrophobic while the fleece lining is comfortable. The fit is flattering, providing enough length in both the arms and torso for those with longer limbs. Comfort? Yes! Fit? Fantastic!


The shirt is constructed with flat seams that don't itch or abraid the skin while in motion. The material isn't super thin which also adds a touch of comfort. In addition, there are a few stand-out features that include a handy-dandy stash pocket that's perfect to stash a key, credit card, or small iPod.

We love the long and close to the skin fit of this base layer. It...
We love the long and close to the skin fit of this base layer. It doesn't ride up and the zip neck allows you to easily dump heat when necessary.
Photo: Amber King

While we love the comforts of this top, it doesn't compare to Merino wool that is ridiculously soft and cozy. However, for a synthetic, the fit, stretch, and fabric feel are top-notch. Wear it for days in the worst weather out there.

The stow-away pocket on the arm is perfect for stashing a key or...
The stow-away pocket on the arm is perfect for stashing a key or credit card on a long run or adventure.
Photo: Amber King

Layering Ability


Featuring a slippery face fabric and a stretchy construct, this top is super easy to layer. Its face fabric is nice and silky smooth that doesn't generate static cling like the wool contenders in this review. What's more is the fabric is thin, and the fit is tight, so it doesn't catch fleecy mid-layers.


In addition to being easy to layer over, its simple to add a shirt underneath. The stretchiness of the fabric easily accommodates a little tank top. However, the arms are quite fitted, and a t-shirt with a sleeve may bunch. Overall, this is a super layer-able base layer top.

Where this top underneath a jacket on a cool fall day or with a...
Where this top underneath a jacket on a cool fall day or with a mid-layer during the winter. We like how easy it is to layer over and under other garments.
Photo: Amber King

Durability


The Arc'teryx Rho LT is amazingly durable. After five years of use, our main tester hasn't noticed any issues with this top's longevity. This is after wearing while groveling up wide crack systems and stemming it out of box canyons. Regarding odor, like most synthetic shirts, the odor sticks after a few years of use. During our initial testing period (only three months) we noticed that the "odor-resistant" fabric did a pretty good job, though the odor now lingers after a few years.


Arc'teryx, in general, is renowned for its fantastic construction. The craftsmanship of the seams and stitching doesn't compare to other brands. In this regard, this base layer top fits the bill exactly. Even though the initial price is high, so is durability. Use it for many years on a plethora of adventures.

While this piece will hold up for years to come, we did find one...
While this piece will hold up for years to come, we did find one small stitching fly-away.
Photo: Amber King

Value


While the price tag is a little steep, the price is worth it. This top offers many performance attributes and durability that you wouldn't be able to find in another shirt. Given that it lasted us for over six years, we can attest to the fact that despite the high price, the value is there. You will get what you pay for in this awesome base layer top. Best for those seeking a layer that can really do anything in cool to cold weather.

Conclusion


This Top Pick is fitted, cute, and durable. Its tight to the skin fit and fleecy inner provides all-day comfort while the stretchy fabric accommodates most body types. Its top-notch craftsmanship and on-skin comfort are above and beyond for a synthetic base layer top. A favorite of our testing team, it will perform well for a range of adventures.

The synthetic Rho LT Zip wins a Top Pick for its great performance...
The synthetic Rho LT Zip wins a Top Pick for its great performance and superb durability.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King