Hands-on Gear Review

Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody Review

This Top Pick is best for winter recreation that requires bouts of breathability and warmth.
By: Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 9, 2018
Price:  $349 List  |  $278.99 at MooseJaw - 20% Off
Pros:  Super warm, uber breathable, durable fabrics, fantastic craftsmanship, lofty and cozy
Cons:  Sucky zipper, best for winter only
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Weight & Compression - 20% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Comfort & Coziness - 15% 8
  • Breathability - 15% 7
  • Style & Fit - 5% 7
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  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody boasts versatility in the winter and earns our Top Pick for Winter Recreation! The 90-grams of continuous Coreloft insulation is both warm and cozy, while the continuous face fabric is surprisingly breathable. Not only that, but the face fabric is mobile moving with you on the move. It fits most of our testers with extra long arms, but a seemingly short torso. This unique combination had us climbing, hiking, skiing, and running errands around town throughout the coldest months of the year. Wear this technical insulated jacket for anything winter! While the Proton AR is excellent for cold weather, the Arc'teryx Atom LT is a thinner and more breathable jacket that does better in warmer temps. While the Proton AR is better as a stand-alone coat or shell, the Atom LT can easily be layered underneath a shell. It's not as warm with only 60-grams of Coreloft insulation, but it breathes better for three-season use. All said and done, if you want a jacket that is best for winter outdoor recreation, this Top Pick if our go-to recommendation.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody is a breathable and warm technical jacket. It earns a Top Pick for Winter Recreation for its unique performance balance that had us ice climbing, skiing, and running errands comfortably in the cold of weather.

Performance Comparison


The Proton AR is our Top Pick for Winter Recreation because it's warm and breathable  best for the winter season.
The Proton AR is our Top Pick for Winter Recreation because it's warm and breathable, best for the winter season.

Warmth


With 90-grams of Coreloft insulation running throughout the body and arms of this jacket, we were impressed with its ability to insulate. Like all models in this review, the insulation is hydrophobic, insulating when wet, and is quite lofty. With the ability to keep us warm in temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit (with a single base layer), our team quickly realized that this is a great winter insulated jacket.


It has many warmth features including an adjustable helmet-compatible hood, a double-pull cinch at the hemline, and gusseted wrists to lock in warmth. The hood is elastic around the face, hugging your face, so it doesn't allow a bunch of air to rush in or heat to escape. Overall, this is a warm winter insulated jacket, scoring eight out of ten in this metric.

The double cinch cords around the hem do a great job locking in warmth.
The double cinch cords around the hem do a great job locking in warmth.

The only contender that was warmer than the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody was the Columbia Mighty Lite Plush, our Best Buy winner, earning a nine out of ten in this metric.

The hood is comfortable and cinches around the top of the head when the adjustable hood pull is cinched up.
The hood is comfortable and cinches around the top of the head when the adjustable hood pull is cinched up.

While the Mighty Lite is not a technical jacket, we were impressed with its ability to insulate. Even though it features fewer grams of insulation (80-grams vs. 90-grams), its thicker fabrics and less breathable shell kept us warmer when the temperatures were well into the double negatives. If you're looking for the warmest jacket out there, the Columbia Mightly Light, our Best Buy award winner, is it. However, if you need something that breathes well and insulates, the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody is our top recommendation.

Here we find that double layering is important to ensure warmth on super cold days on the East coast.
Here we find that double layering is important to ensure warmth on super cold days on the East coast.

Weight & Compression


For the amount of insulation and warmth provided, we are impressed with the Arc'teryx Proton AR's ability to compress. It doesn't have its own stowaway system, but our testers learned that by simply rolling it up into its hood and cinching it down - it contained the jacket, making it easy to pack away. That said, it doesn't have a carabiner loop to clip like the other options with their own stow-away systems. All in all, while this isn't the most compressible or lightweight jacket out there, we were impressed by its ability to pack away easily. We also like that it feels light while wearing.


If you've got your heart set on a lightweight and compressible insulated jacket, the Patagonia Micro Puff is our Top Pick because of its lightweight construct (only 229 grams!) and compressibility. While the Arc'teryx Proton AR is much warmer, it can't compress as small.

While this jacket does not have a stow-away system  it can be rolled into the hood and cinched up.
While this jacket does not have a stow-away system, it can be rolled into the hood and cinched up.

Another great option is our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Xenon X that compressions almost as small as the Micro Puff and weighs just a little bit more (302 grams). All in all, the Arc'teryx Proton AR is not the most comparatively compressible or lightweight, but it provides an excellent warmth to compression ratio, attributing to its Top Pick status.

Buy a small compression sack and stuff this baby inside for even better compressibility.

Weather Resistance


If you're ever in wet or super windy weather, it's important to note that the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody is not waterproof. Like most jackets in this review, it kept us warm when the snow flew down, and the wind blew. While the continuous Fortius Air 40 92% nylon, 8% elastane shells wards off a regular rainfall or snowfall and provides better wind protection than most, it was saturated after about four minutes during our shower water tests. That said, it does dry out quickly.

However, we could feel the wind blow through this piece on a windy day. That said, it's easy to put a super light wind jacket underneath to stay warm in these unique weather situations. Despite the fact that it did not show "weather-proofing" capabilities, it is certainly "weather-resistant". In fact, it performed better than all jackets in this review, (including the thinner Arc'teryx Atom LT) except for two. This is because of its thicker face fabrics and insulation that kept the wind and precipitation from cutting through the shell. As a result, it earns a solid eight out of ten in this metric.


The only contenders that superseded the Proton AR Hoody are the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush and Rab Xenon X. Both have different face fabric thickness and quality. The Rab features a Pertex Quantum Nylon shell while the Columbia has a 100% polyester triple-pane ripstop exterior. Both performed better in our shower tests and provided better wind resistance during our testing period. So if you want the best of the best in this metric, look at either of these jackets. All said and done, the Proton AR Hoody demonstrates better weather resistance then most jackets tested and certainly performs well when the conditions deteriorate. Take it alpine climbing on cold days or just out around town.

This lake got a little windy. While the Proton does a decent job at weather resistance  it's not as resistant as the Columbia Mighty Light Plush.
This lake got a little windy. While the Proton does a decent job at weather resistance, it's not as resistant as the Columbia Mighty Light Plush.

Comfort and Coziness


While the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody doesn't have a wide plethora of comfort features, our testers loved it. This is attributed to its continuous and mobile face fabric that moves the body while hiking and climbing.


Despite it being heavier than most, it feels light on, and the insulation is cozy and lofty. Wearing it feels like being hugged all day long. The hood is helmet compatible, while all four pockets are ideally placed.

The gusseted wrists are comfortable and stretchy  perfect for putting under a pair of gloves.
The gusseted wrists are comfortable and stretchy, perfect for putting under a pair of gloves.

Two breast pockets allow for storage of materials while wearing a harness (ideal for climbing) while the two hand warmer pockets are lofty and comfortable. Our only wish is that they were a touch larger. That said, there are no interior pockets, but we didn't think it was necessary for this technical outdoor jacket. It scores an eight out of ten in this metric.

This jacket features two exterior breast pockets and two hand warmer pockets.
This jacket features two exterior breast pockets and two hand warmer pockets.

Other options like the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush have cozier features like a fur-lined hood and chin guard, with adjustable cinches and larger pockets. The OR Woman's Ascendant Hoody hones a full-lined fleece interior that had our testers swooning with love and admiration. While the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody doesn't have fuzzy features, it makes up for it with a whole lotta loft.

The hood is helmet compatible with a cinch.
The hood is helmet compatible with a cinch.

Thanks to the smooth liner, our testers found it was easier to layer with wool or fabric base layers. That said, the face fabric isn't as mobile as either the OR Women's Ascendant or our Top Pick for breathability, the Patagonia Nano Air. If a featureless jacket is more your style, the Patagonia Micro Puff is the best lightweight option. All said and done, if you're not a huge fan of fur or fleece, the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody is an uber-comfortable technical jacket option.

The cinch allows a more precise fit.
The cinch allows a more precise fit.

Breathability


For the amount of loft and protection offered in this contender, we were surprised by its great level of breathability. While the Fortius™ Air 40 92% nylon, 8% elastane shell is protective, it allows moisture to leave easily. During early morning runs in the winter, it proved to be a great piece of gear, keeping us warm while breathing. While it doesn't have any breathability features like thin-fleecy vents under the arms (like we see in the Arc'teryx Atom LT), opening the chest and hand warming pockets provides sufficient heat release. That said, it isn't the most breathable option out there either. It scores a comparative score of seven out of ten.


Similar to the Arc'teryx Proton AR, the OR Women's Ascendant Hoody features a mobile face fabric. The difference between the two is that the Ascendant is much thinner and isn't as lofty, allowing moisture to leave more readily. The Patagonia Nano Air is another super breathable jacket that has a better performance rating than the OR Ascendant, earning it a Top Pick. The Nano Air has a continuous shell that moves readily with the body and breathes better than the Proton AR as it is not as lofty.

Nicole runs it out with this mobile and breathable face fabric.
Nicole runs it out with this mobile and breathable face fabric.

If you're in search of a piece that doesn't offer much breathability, but features great warmth, the Columbia Mighty Lite Plush Hooded is a great non-technical jacket option. Overall, the Arc'teryx Proton AR stands out because it's the warmest jacket out there that also breathes well on the move. This is the primary reason it wins our Top Pick for Winter Recreation in comparison to the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush.

Style & Fit


Featuring a continuous face fabric with a few flattering stitching patterns and a boxier fit, the Arc'teryx Proton AR Hoody scores a seven out of ten in this metric. Our testers loved the way this jacket feels on but commented that it's not the most stylish in comparison to other contenders like the Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody and the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush. This jacket fit most of our testers well.


Featuring a stitching pattern that bows in around the hips that is quite flattering, we didn't think this jacket was as boxy as other contenders like the Rab Xenon X. The fabric also hangs in a flattering way, covering some bumps and lumps. That said, it's fabric isn't as rigid as the Columbia Mighty Lite, nor is the space in the torso area as large. As a result, it didn't fit all of our testers the best. While the jacket comes just above the butt with our chief tester (5'7, athletic build, 140 lbs), our taller testers thought the jacket was a little short. But, the arms were long enough for them. That said, make sure to try it one before buying this one. The size is true to fit, and the colors are amazing!

A look at the fit of this jacket.
A look at the fit of this jacket.

Best Applications


As a warm jacket that can compress and breathe well, we highly recommend it for anything winter! While many of our contenders are lightweight options that fit well under layers, the Arc'teryx Proton AR is better to wear on its own as it's loftier and thicker than other options. It's our Top Pick for Winter Recreation because it is best for sweaty winter activities that require bouts of warmth. Think chopping wood, cold winter running, skiing, snowboarding, and more. Just add in a quality base layer and insulation when the temps get down into the negatives.

Take this jacket hiking on the coldest days or while you play during the winter.
Take this jacket hiking on the coldest days or while you play during the winter.

Value


As the most expensive jacket in this review, we are not stoked on the $350 price tag. While performance and durability of the materials are impeccable, we were a little let down with the zipper. The teeth are small and not very durable. In addition, it catches the super lofty liner, sticking many times during this testing period. There were not just one or two times this happened, but almost on a daily basis, we spent over a minute trying to zip or unzip the jacket.

The tiny teeth of the zipper and lofty interior fabric cause this zipper to catch daily. In the future  we would hope that Arc'teryx fixes this zipper problem.
The tiny teeth of the zipper and lofty interior fabric cause this zipper to catch daily. In the future, we would hope that Arc'teryx fixes this zipper problem.

We even got it caught to the point where we couldn't get it unstuck, then the zipper teeth broke. While this was returned promptly for a new jacket, we were unimpressed with zipper quality. That said, the craftsmanship and quality of the material are above and beyond anything else. $350 is a lot to pay though. If you have the money, it's worth it. Otherwise take a look at other options that are a lot less, like the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush for only $130.

Conclusion


This Top Pick for Winter Recreation balances warmth and breathability for a high-performance technical piece that is best for anything winter.

Amber King

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