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Arc'teryx Gamma Pant - Women's Review

Great for cold weather hiking and wet days on the trail due to solid weather resistance
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Arc'teryx Gamma Pant - Women's Review (We stood by the North Atlantic on a windy day to test the pant's wind resistance. They did very well, blocking most of...)
We stood by the North Atlantic on a windy day to test the pant's wind resistance. They did very well, blocking most of the bluster.
Credit: Clark Tate
Price:  $190 List
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Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Clark Tate ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 28, 2024
85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • Comfort and Mobility - 35% 8.0
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6.5
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 10.0
  • Construction Quality - 15% 9.0
  • Versatility and Features - 15% 10.0

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Gamma pants are well-built softshells that offer solid technical performance, excellent comfort, and streamlined good looks. They block wind and resist water well, making them a good choice for colder months or damp weather. Between their stretch fabric and smart cut, these pants offer a precise fit and endless mobility. Their only constraint is a high, rigid waistband, though it never slowed our testers down.The Gamma pants are more substantial and less breathable than other lightweight pants. However, we haven't tested a better four-season hiking pant, and these would do very well for year-round use. Check out our best women's hiking pants review to see how it stacks up to competing products.
REASONS TO BUY
Impressive weather resistance
Excellent mobility
Comfortable
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
Rigid waistband noticeable at times
Not the most breathable

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Bottom Line A fantastic technical option for cooler, wetter weatherWith soft and stretchy fabric that never inhibits your movements and thoughtful technical details, this is one awesome pair of hiking pantsPants that can take you from town to the trailheadA versatile pair of pants with great venting and breathability at a great priceThese pants offer endless flexibility on the trail, up the mountain, or on the climbing wall
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Gamma Pan... Outdoor Research Fe... Prana Halle Straigh... REI Co-op Sahara Co... REI Co-op Trailmade
Comfort and Mobility (35%)
8.0
9.0
8.5
7.0
9.0
Venting and Breathability (20%)
6.5
9.0
6.5
9.0
5.5
Weather Resistance (15%)
10.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Construction Quality (15%)
9.0
8.0
7.5
7.5
5.5
Versatility and Features (15%)
10.0
8.5
9.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Arc'teryx Gamma Pan... Outdoor Research Fe... Prana Halle Straigh... REI Co-op Sahara Co... REI Co-op Trailmade
Measured Weight (Size 6) 11.2 oz (size 6) 9.6 oz (size 6) 11.2 oz (size 6) 12 oz (size 6) 8.0 oz (size 6)
Material 70Dnylon/spandex plain weave 86% Bluesign-approved nylon (46% recycled), 14% spandex 95% recycled nylon, 5% elastane 96% recycled nylon, 4% spandex 94% nylon/6% spandex
Fabric Features Water, wind resistant and breathable Water, wind resistant, quick dry, and breathable Water resistant, breathable Quick dry, water resistant Water resistant, quick dry, and breathable
Water Resistance FCO-DWR Treatment PFAS-free DWR finish PFAS-Free DWR finish DWR finish DWR finish
Size Options and Versions 00 to 16, in Short (29"), Reg (31",) Tall (34") 0 to 24W, in Short (29"), Reg (31"), Tall (34") 00 to 16, in Short (28"), Reg (30"), Tall (34") 0P to 26W, in Petite (27.5"), Regular (30"), Tall (33"), and Plus 0P to 26W, in Petite (28.5"), Tall (34")
Sun Protection Not specified UPF 50+ UPF 50+ UPF 50+ UPF 50+
Pants-to-Shorts Conversion Cinch around ankle Cinch around ankle No Zip-off Cinch around ankle
Pockets 2 hand (zip), 1 side (zip) 2 hip, 2 back, 1 thigh 2 hand, 1 coin, 2 back (snap), 1 thigh (zip) 2 hand, 2 back, 2 cargo 2 hand, 2 back, 1 thigh (zip)
Integrated Belt Yes Yes, internal drawcord Yes, internal drawcord Yes, internal drawcord Yes, internal drawcord
Other Features Trim fit, straight leg, adjustable waist belt, adjustable pant cuffs, 3 inseam lengths Articulated knees, drawstring at waist, stretch fabric, harness-compatible waist Gusseted crotch with vent holes, articulated knees, drawstring at waist, stretch fabric Mid rise, convert to shorts, relaxed fit, straight leg, 2 inseam lengths, reinforced cuff backs, flatseam Double fabric on knees and at heels, articulated knees, articulated hips, drawstring at waist, stretch fabric, cord loop at waistband
Social or Environmental Certifications Recycled nylon fabric, raw materials made with at least 30% recycled content 86% Bluesign approved nylon, 46% recycled Recycled nylon fabric, Bluesign, PFAS-Free DWR finish Contains materials that meet the Bluesign criteria
Contains recycled materials, From a Climate Neutral Certified brand
Bluesign approved fabric, Climate Neutral Certified Brand, short chain perfluorinated chemical DWR treatment

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Gammas are the only soft shell option we tested, a category between regular pants and hard shell rain pants. Whereas hard shells are waterproof but struggle to breathe well to release sweat buildup, softshells are more waterresistant than most hiking pants but are more breathable than hardshells. They're a great option for high-output activities, like climbing a mountain, where you want your sweat to escape but need more protection from unexpected weather. If you're going to be out for a while and need to stay dry, you'll want those hard shells.

The Gamma pants are made of recycled nylon. This pair comes in sizes 00 to 14 in regular length (30.5" to 32"), 0 to 10 in short (28.5" to 30"), and 6 to 12 in tall (33.5" to 35").

Performance Comparison


The Arc'teryx Gamma Pants are excellent year-round, softshell hiking pants.
Credit: Clark Tate

Comfort and Mobility


The Gamma pants are built for performance. Their comfort comes largely from their impressive mobility, which they owe to cleverly constructed stretch fabric. You may not want to curl up on the couch in them, but that's what sweatpants are for. These pants shine during full days spent on the trail or mountain.


The fabric is thin, swishes a bit when you move, and is pleasant in hand, especially the soft inner layer. It has more structure than some of the lightest weight hiking pants we tested, which we find more comfortable in rugged terrain. The pant's trim cut stays out of our way while offering enough room for us to wear even our thickest base layer underneath in our regular size six.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - these pants are made to move. their stretch and cut make them...
These pants are made to move. Their stretch and cut make them incredibly comfortable for active pursuits. The soft touch of the liner fabric doesn't hurt.
Credit: Clark Tate

The recycled nylon material offers enough stretch for any move you'd like to make. Articulated knees and a generous gusset in the crotch ensure you never feel restricted. Curved seams and three-dimensional paneling give your hips and booty space, too. A high rise keeps the pants from sagging at the waist, as does the sleek integrated belt. From deep telemark turns to high steps on rock or ice, these pants never hold us back.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - comfort and performance like this is enough to make us want to dance...
Comfort and performance like this is enough to make us want to dance by the sea.
Credit: Clark Tate

Venting and Breathability


The Gammas are breathable, but they just hold in more heat than some summer-oriented pants in the test, earning a lower score as a result. If you hike in the Gamma pants in 80-degree weather, they'll let your sweat escape, but it takes a bit longer than the lightest options. Their sturdy windproof fabric also works against you here, blocking you from the sweet relief of a breeze.


Luckily, you can roll them up or slide them up your calves, using the cinch in the hem to hold them in place. This is our favorite option in warmer conditions. The mesh hand and side pockets also vent some heat when unzipped.

We wore these pants to play racquetball and climb the never-ending Mount Stair-Stepper at the local gym, allowing us to test breathability in a controlled environment. They kept us sweat-free during the stop-and-start sport but held onto moisture during the consistent climb. After we stopped, they released the buildup quickly, keeping us comfortable enough to head to lunch without a shower.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - cinches at the hems help keep creepy crawlies out.
Cinches at the hems help keep creepy crawlies out.
Credit: Clark Tate

Weather Resistance


Throughout months of testing, the Gamma pants proved to be one of the best options for protecting against adverse weather. They block wind well, including in frigid winter conditions. They are also impressively water resistant thanks to an FCO-DWR (aka fluorocarbon-free durable water repellent) coating.


DWR treatment encourages water to bead up and roll off your clothes instead of soaking into them. It works pretty well in this case, with water rolling off more readily than most of the options we tested. They do a good job of protecting you in a drizzle but wet through after 30 seconds or so in the shower. Still, that's one of the best results we saw in our testing.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - we stood by the north atlantic on a windy day to test the pant's...
We stood by the North Atlantic on a windy day to test the pant's wind resistance. They did very well, blocking most of the bluster.
Credit: Clark Tate

But it's important to reiterate – If you're in a sustained rainstorm, the water will soak through. Usually, the areas where your rain jacket sheds water onto your pants will saturate first. Like most of the pants in the test, these dry quickly

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - though these pants aren't waterproof the fco-dwr coating beads...
Though these pants aren't waterproof the FCO-DWR coating beads water, letting it roll off to keep you drier longer.
Credit: Clark Tate

Construction Quality


These pants are impressively wrought with a three-dimensional shape they owe to smartly cut and placed panels. A gusseted crotch and articulated knees add to their sleek and functional features. Their excellent construction quality carries through to the sturdy nylon fabric and small, even seams.


The softshell material is highly abrasion-resistant. We found the fabric very difficult to puncture with the blunt tip of a paperclip. When it does punch through, the fibers immediately slide back into place. There are no concerning runs that might suggest that the fabric rips easily.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - on the rare occasion that the well-behaved nala dog jumped on these...
On the rare occasion that the well-behaved Nala dog jumped on these pants, we never worried about her nails puncturing the sturdy fabric. They held up to some accidental bushwhacking later in the day as well.
Credit: Clark Tate

The zippers are reinforced, and the seams are double-stitched and are too small and tight to snag, a rarity that suggests they will stand the test of time. The integrated belt, snap button, and hem cinches, which we'll discuss in more detail below, work well and have no obvious weaknesses. In short, we didn't have any durability issues arise during our testing period and don't expect to in the future.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - we think these pants look pretty nice, polished even.
We think these pants look pretty nice, polished even.
Credit: Clark Tate

Versatility and Features


The Gamma pants work well in a range of front-country and wilderness adventures and have a few well-designed and helpful features. Most of the hiking pants we've tested are best suited to the summer months and the warmer days of spring and fall. These do well in the warmer months, can handle the winter months, and shine during the cooler parts of fall and spring. They also handle short bouts of wet weather well.


Despite their technical nature, we get complimented when wearing these pants around town after an adventure. We also wear them to work in our casual office. They're equally versatile in the woods, handling rough hiking trails, backpacking trips, climbing, and alpine adventures. We don't even mind wearing them at the gym.

They do have a high waist that tends to rise above a backpacking waist strap but sits directly beneath the back of your climbing harness. That bothered some of our testers, but others didn't mind it, especially on day trips to the local crag.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - a streamlined, integrated belt keeps these pants in their place.
A streamlined, integrated belt keeps these pants in their place.
Credit: Clark Tate

The pants offer streamlined features that all work well. The pockets are made of sturdy mesh fabric, helping them to breathe while lying flat against your legs. The front pockets are big enough for your hands, phone, or wallet and zip closed for security. A large, zippered thigh pocket on the outside of the right leg easily and comfortably holds a phone or a snack. A low-profile, high-quality belt is wrapped into the waistband itself.

The cuffs have a drawcord, allowing you to cinch the hems to hold in heat or keep out insects or wet weather. Two small grommet holes would help you strap the pants down to your boots with p-cord or a shoelace, creating DIY gaiters.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - a zippered side pocket is large enough to comfortably carry your...
A zippered side pocket is large enough to comfortably carry your phone.
Credit: Clark Tate

Should You Buy the Arc'teryx Gamma Pant?


These excellent pants cost a pretty penny, over twice as much as many options in the review. If you're a casual hiker who isn't hard on clothes and who rarely spends more than a few hours at a time in areas close to shelter, these are probably overkill.

That said, if you go with this pair, they're likely to last you forever. If you want hiking pants that will stick with you through thick and thin in backcountry environments all year long, these are an excellent option.

These pants are also made of recycled nylon, and some of their materials meet Bluesign's sustainability and ethical criteria. They use a DWR coating that is free of toxic, forever PFC chemicals. That means they keep you and the Earth healthier and are made with at least some consideration for the workers who created them.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - useful, streamlined features and durable, soft fabric are an...
Useful, streamlined features and durable, soft fabric are an excellent combination.
Credit: Clark Tate

What Other Hiking Pants Should You Consider?


If you're looking for excellent four-season hiking pants that trend more toward workwear than fast and light alpine pursuits, check out the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trousers. If you want to spend less on a pair of high-quality, wind-resistant pants that breathe and repel water better than the Gamma option, see the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant.

arc'teryx gamma pant for women - as comfortable on the beach as on the local ice climbing crag, these...
As comfortable on the beach as on the local ice climbing crag, these are great year-round hiking pants.
Credit: Clark Tate

Clark Tate