The Arc'teryx Gamma LT is a "lightweight" pair of softshell pants (hence the "LT" in the name). This pair is different than any other in our test group. The softshell material has the best weather resistance and warmth in this review and is an excellent option for colder months and wet hikes. And despite its LT designation, these pants are heavier than most models we tested, due largely to the material. You might overheat a bit in this pair come summertime, and there is no option to convert it into shorts. For cold and misty hikes, the Gamma LT is a stellar pair and our Top Pick for Wet Weather Award winner.
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant - Women's Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Great weather resistance, mobile, comfortable, durable
Cons: Not as breathable, slim cut hard to layer under
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT pants are made with an 88% Nylon / 12% Elastane blend. This pair comes in size 0-14 in the Regular inseam (32"), as well as 0-10 in Short and 6-12 in Tall inseams. Arc'teryx doesn't specify what length the short and tall inseams are, and we find their limited choices in the different inseams a bit perplexing.
Some fit notes: Arc'teryx sizing seems to be different from most American companies but in line with another big Canadian brand, Lululemon. We originally purchased this pant in our "American" size 2, but it was way too snug. We returned it and tried a size 4 (our regular Lululemon size), and it fits much better, though still trim. If you want these on the loose side to squeeze a base layer underneath them, you may have to go up two sizes from your regular American size. Also note that this pant has a high rise, and while it fits nicely under a backpacking waistbelt, we didn't like rock climbing in it as much because there was too much going on right at the waist.
Comfort & Mobility
The material blend in this pant is 88% Nylon and 12% Elastane, which is what makes it so stretchy. The Gamma LT pants have more stretch than comfort to be sure — while they are not uncomfortable, they aren't as soft or cozy as the Mountain Hardwear Dynama and The North Face Aphrodite 2.0. Those pants are comfortable enough to sleep in and feel more like a pair of lounge pants than a traditional hiking pant. The Gammas are still comfortable though and nice for all-day wear on the trail — but you probably won't want to curl up in them on the couch afterward.
The cut on this pant is on the trim side, which always concerns us with a pair of hiking pants. We wonder if we are still going to be able to high-step and scramble with ease in a "skinny" pant. We needn't have worried with the Gamma LTs. The material has excellent stretch to it, and the articulated knees and gusseted crotch all combined to give us excellent mobility. We even wore them tele-skiing on a spring day and had no issue going deep into our lunges in this pair.
It's a little hard to compare this pant's versatility to the others in this review. Okay, it might not work on hot summer days, but it is the only one we tested that we would use on a winter hike, while spring skiing, on wet and cool days, etc. In the end, we gave this one a middle-grade for versatility simply because we can barely even roll it up, and the most common time to go hiking is the warmer months of the year.
If you are looking for three-season versatility (we're talking summer not winter), then most of the other models in this review are good choices, particularly the ones that convert into shorts because nothing says versatility like being able to remove half the leg.
This pair received one of our highest scores for durability.
The softshell material is highly abrasion resistant, and the pant has impeccable construction details. The zippers are laminated, and the seams are all double stitched. We didn't have any durability issues arise during our testing period, and found little to no complaints in online reviews either.
Arc'teryx calls this material "moisture resistant." It's not fully waterproof, but it comes close, and on the whole, the Gamma blows away all of the other models in this review for weather resistance.
The Gamma features a DWR finish, and the material and DWR combo does a fantastic job of repelling water. It will keep you dry in a drizzle, and takes a pretty sustained rain to soak through — more likely it's the spot where your rainjacket drips onto your pants that will saturate first. Once wet, it takes a bit longer for them to dry compared to some of the "regular" pants that we tested, drying in the full sun in about 40 minutes. The DWR finish and water resistance on the Marmot Lobo's are also impressive, though the Gamma provides more wind resistance hence its slightly higher score.
We like the feature set on the Gammas. Though they seem pretty minimalistic to start, they do have a lot going for them.
Both hand pockets are nice and deep and have zippers. The side-zippered pocket is big enough for a smartphone or a set of keys. The cuffs have a drawcord should you want to cinch them down to keep the heat in or the rain out. The internal belt is low-profile and doesn't interfere with a hip belt.
Finally, the cuffs have grommets should you want to wear the pants over a pair of hiking boots and secure them down under the arch with some shoelace, like a gaiter.
For a soft-shell pant, the Gamma LT is pretty breathable. But the overall weight is slightly heavier than the summer-oriented pants in this review.
If you hike in the Gamma pants in 80-degree weather, it may vent your perspiration well, but you will feel hotter overall than in a super light pair like the Columbia Saturday Trail or a convertible pair like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible. The pockets are mesh lined though, so if you find yourself overheating in these a little, unzip the pockets and try to keep them open a little, as this will allow some of your heat to vent out.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT is a great choice for a variety of activities, particularly those that include wet and cool weather. Hiking, biking, water sports, you name it. Beware that during the summer, we would only consider these pants when heading out in the rain, which is a rarity anyways. The only sport we weren't quite happy with them was when rock climbing, as these pants have a high rise and sit right under our climbing harness. For that application, we preferred the Prana Halle instead.
These pants ring up for a staggering $190! That's twice as much as some pairs in this review and more than double the price of our Best Buy winner, the REI Co-Op Sahara. They are a specialized pair that's more in a league of its own, but still, that's a lot to spend on one pair of pants. Hopefully, if you do spring for them, they will last you forever!
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT is a sleek hiking pant. The trim fit and smooth, stretchy material look great on, and they are the bee's knees on cold and wet days. They aren't well suited for warmer weather hiking, but if you're out on the trail no matter the weather or the season, this is a great option to have on you.
— Cam McKenzie Ring