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Arc'teryx Gamma LT Pant - Women's Review

Best for cold weather hiking and wet days on the trail.
Arc'teryx Gamma LT
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $190 List | $189.00 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Great weather resistance, mobile, comfortable, durable
Cons:  Not as breathable, slim cut hard to layer under
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2018
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Comfort/Mobility - 30% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 10
  • Features/Conveniences - 15% 9
  • Breathability - 10% 7

The Skinny

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT is a lightweight pair of softshell pants (hence the "LT" in the name). This pair is slightly 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 cooler months and wet hikes. You might overheat a bit in this pair come summertime, and there is no option to convert it into shorts. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible is also a softshell pant, but the material is slightly lighter, and they are convertible, so if you are looking for a summer softshell pant, those would be a good choice. Otherwise, for cold and misty hikes, the Gamma LT is a stellar pair and our Top Pick for Wet Weather award winner.


Compare to Similar Products

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. Note that not all colors are available in all inseams either.

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.

Performance Comparison


The Gamma LT are a sleek pair for colder days or drizzly weather.
The Gamma LT are a sleek pair for colder days or drizzly weather.

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 great mobility. We even wore them tele-skiing on a spring day and had no issue going deep into our lunges in this pair.

The articulated knees give the Gammas great mobility for such a trim-fitting pant.
The articulated knees give the Gammas great mobility for such a trim-fitting pant.

Versatility


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.


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.

Need something for spring skiing days? This pair is an excellent choice. There's enough mobility for active sports  and it's slightly thicker than your typical pair of hiking pants.
Need something for spring skiing days? This pair is an excellent choice. There's enough mobility for active sports, and it's slightly thicker than your typical pair of hiking pants.

Breathability


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.

This pair breathed well and we felt comfortable hiking in it around 70 degrees  but not much hotter.
This pair breathed well and we felt comfortable hiking in it around 70 degrees, but not much hotter.

Durability


This pair received one of our highest score 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.

This quality pair of pants should last a long time  which is good since they cost a lot of money!
This quality pair of pants should last a long time, which is good since they cost a lot of money!

Weather Resistance


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 is treated with a DWR finish, and the material and DWR combo do a fantastic job of repelling water. It will keep you dry in a light drizzle, and takes a pretty sustained rain to soak through — more likely it's the spot where your rainjacket drips onto your pants that is going to 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 is also impressive, though the Gamma provides more wind resistance hence it's slightly higher score.

The DWR finish on the Gamma works very well - water does not want to go into the material. Once it does get wet  it dries in about 40 minutes in full sun.
The DWR finish on the Gamma works very well - water does not want to go into the material. Once it does get wet, it dries in about 40 minutes in full sun.

Features


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.

The integrated belt was one of our favorite features in this review. It keeps the pants tight (and UP) and still works well under a backpack.
The integrated belt was one of our favorite features in this review. It keeps the pants tight (and UP) and still works well under a backpack.

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.

The bottom of the pants can cinch down to help keep water or muck out  and there's also a grommet on either side which lets you make your own gaiter out of the pants.
The bottom of the pants can cinch down to help keep water or muck out, and there's also a grommet on either side which lets you make your own gaiter out of the pants.

Best Applications


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. 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.

Skiing one day  hiking the next? The Gamma can do it all!
Skiing one day, hiking the next? The Gamma can do it all!

Value


These pants ring up for a staggering $190! That's twice as much as some pairs in this review and more than three times the price of our Best Buy winner, the Columbia Saturday Trail. 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!

Conclusion


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