Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Thin, non-adjustable cuffs, spendy
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Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's
$249.00 at Amazon
|$259 List||$215 List|
$128.97 at Backcountry
$79.97 at Backcountry
|$114.73 at REI|
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|Pros||Excellent mobility, great weather resistance, breathable, durable, flattering cut||Insulated, highly breathable, moisture-wicking, comfortable, great weather protection, durable, lots of pockets||Great mobility, very breathable, wind/water resistant||Inexpensive, stellar mobility and breathability, stow-away pocket, harness-friendly pockets, excellent fit||Very flexible, flattering fit, long torso, comfortable cuff|
|Cons||Thin, non-adjustable cuffs, spendy||Spendy, no stow-away pocket for clipping to your harness, hood somewhat small, some reviewers feel it runs small||Heavier weight, snug in the shoulders, pricey||Not very warm, below average water resistance||Gets wet very easily, thicker fabric is heavier|
|Bottom Line||A feature-rich, aesthetically pleasing technical softshell with great mobility, breathability, and excellent weather resistance||A lightweight, insulated but breathable jacket, that is the best hybrid we've reviewed||A fantastic technical softshell for backcountry alpine pursuits, striking a great balance between weather resistance, breathability, and mobility||This wicked light softshell has great mobility, is highly breathable and well-tailored - a perfect layer for fair-weather climbing or hiking||This comfortable jacket will keep you protected and stylish, from climbing with friends to hanging at the coffee shop|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Gamma LT...||Arc'teryx Proton FL...||Marmot ROM 2.0 - Wo...||Rab Borealis - Women's||Black Diamond Alpin...|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Gamma LT...||Arc'teryx Proton FL...||Marmot ROM 2.0 - Wo...||Rab Borealis - Women's||Black Diamond Alpin...|
|Measured Weight||15.5 oz (size S)||9.5 oz (size S)||14 oz (size S)||9 oz (size 10/S)||6.5 oz (size S)|
|Material||Wee Burly Double Weave (56% nylon, 34% polyester, 10% elastane), DWR finish||84% nylon, 16% elastane||92% Nylon, 8% Elastane Plain Weave||Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR||Schoeller w/Eco-Repel Bio (93% nylon, 7% Elastane)|
|Hood?||Yes, 3-way adjustable||Yes, 1-way adjustable||Yes, 1-way adjustable||Yes, stretchy but not adjustable||Yes, 2-way adjustable|
|Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted)||3 (2 hand, 1 internal)||4 (2 hand, 2 chest)||4 (2 hand, 2 chest)||2 hand||1 chest|
|Adjustable Cuffs?||No, Stretch Cuffs||No, Stretch Cuffs||Yes, Velcro||No, Stretch Cuffs||No, Stretch Cuffs|
|Available Sizes||XS - XL||XS - XL||XS - XL||8 - 16||XS-XL|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Gamma LT is an easy jacket to love, a shining example of what a softshell strives to offer. The rugged fabric features a DWR-coating for water resistance and a four-way stretch for unimpeded movement. The hood is helmet-compatible, and the hem doesn't ride up while climbing, making it an ideal companion on alpine climbs or windy hikes in the mountain. It is also weather-resistant enough for warm weather ski touring or snowshoeing.
The Gamma LT is the lightest jacket in the Gamma series from Arc'teryx. We love it for being a stretchy, albeit somewhat thin, softshell that provides excellent wind resistance and decent water resistance.
This jacket is unlined, so it is less warm than the heavier-weight Gamma MX, but when paired with a light fleece, it is a perfect layer for cooler weather climbing. In our shower test, the Gamma LT did wet out relatively quickly around the shoulders, but the patented Wee Burly fabric resisted total failure, unlike other models in our review. If you're looking for something more waterproof, we recommend looking for a hardshell instead. That said, this jacket handled water surprisingly well for being a lightweight softshell. Beyond warmth and water resistance, it is a fantastic wind layer, taking the edge off cold mountain winds.
This is one of the metrics where the Gamma LT truly shines. Instead of pit zips, Arc'teryx designed this jacket with large mesh-lined, harness-compatible pockets for ventilation.
Beyond pocket ventilation, this softshell is unlined, giving it more breathability than the warmer jackets in our review. Additionally, the Wee Burly fabric achieves an ideal balance between weather protection and breathability — providing protection from wind, resistance from moisture, and still allowing for ventilation while you're on the move. That said, some of the lighter-weight jackets in our review offer greater breathability, but they also offer less weather protection. If you intend to use this jacket during early morning hikes to approach alpine climbs, it should keep you warm enough while avoiding the clammy feel of a less breathable layer. We love this jacket for warm weather ski touring, climbing in the shade, and all manner of alpine pursuits — from climbing to peak bagging and early morning trail runs to warm weather snowshoeing — because it keeps you protected but not stifled.
Mobility is another category where the Gamma LT performed favorably. For climbing, there are few jackets that move as well as the Gamma LT. The hem doesn't ride up while climbing, and the stretchy fabric facilitates unencumbered movement.
One mark of an excellent softshell is forgetting you're wearing the jacket in the first place. The Gamma LT definitely meets and surpasses this mark. Whether climbing, hiking, or ski touring, it feels like second-skin for how well it enables mobility in use. Beyond boasting stretchy fabric, the Gamma LT has several features that enable greater mobility than other jackets in its class. The cuffs have a small panel of stretchier — but burly — fabric that keeps the cuffs in place without velcro wrist straps, and the underarms are gusseted, so you can reach climbing holds without the sleeves sliding down. The spacious helmet-compatible hood has three-way adjustable cinches so that you can dial in the fit, with or without a helmet.
Weighing in at 15.5 ounces for a size small, the Gamma LT is an average to heavier-weight jacket, compared to the others in our review.
While the Gamma LT is not winning any ultralight awards, this may not be a critical criterion for you. We appreciate this jacket for the features it affords for alpine rock climbing, ski touring, and mountaineering because it is breathable, mobile, and offers above-average weather resistance. If this sounds like you, you're unlikely to notice the heft of this jacket while stowed in your pack. However, if you're looking for an ultralight emergency layer, or if you want a lighter-weight jacket to stow in your pack (or on your harness), there are other options that could better suit your needs. However, for the functionality this jacket provides as an alpine climbing layer, we were unbothered by the weight.
To evaluate a softshell for versatility, we consider style, features, stow-ability, and the ideal uses for a particular model. In a field of stiff competition, we consider the Gamma LT to be a highly versatile jacket, which is why it scored favorably in this category.
Given the array of colors — from muted to fairly bright — and the tailored cut, the Gamma LT could be at home on the mountain or in the brewery after a big day out. The three-way cinch on the helmet-compatible hood is a top-notch feature that we appreciate in any jacket suitable for the backcountry. The pockets are harness compatible and mesh-lined, meaning you can open them up for ventilation or to access your stowables without the hassle of reaching beneath your harness belt. While hiking, this means you can also use the pockets to warm your hands without unbuckling the hip belt on your backpack. The cuffs feature a trim-cut with a stretchy fabric panel, so you can't pull them over gloves, but they are compatible with gauntlet-style gloves. We also love the so-called "No Slip Zip," not because there are other jackets in our review with zipper-slippage issues, but because the zipper is a bit burlier than others we have reviewed. All these features point to a jacket that is ideal for climbing long routes in variable weather conditions, though we would recommend an ultralight rain jacket if you expect monsoon-level storms. This jacket would also be great for ski touring or snowshoeing on warmer days or as an outer layer for bike commuting in the shoulder season. All-in-all a very versatile jacket.
We think this jacket is a good value for how well-designed, feature-rich, breathable, and mobile it is — all of which make it easy to recommend. While you can certainly find less expensive jackets on the market — and in this review — the design of the Gamma LT and durability of the fabric will keep you satisfied for years to come. It handles like a champ on alpine climbs and cooler-weather multi-pitches and is even great on warmer ice climbing days. That said, if you're primarily going to be in severe weather, this layer alone won't be enough — you will want a hardshell to protect from the rain. If you're looking for a durable jacket for windy alpine adventures — be it climbing, warm ski touring, or peak bagging — we think this jacket strikes an ideal balance between mobility, weather resistance, and breathability. A balance that is well worth the steep price tag.
Striking the right balance between breathability, weather resistance, and ease of movement should be the goal of any softshell. The Arc'teryx Gamma LT does this without compromising on style — proving that you really can have form and function. The fabric is burly enough to withstand the abuse of alpine granite and features a DWR coating for water resistance. It offers excellent wind resistance while providing the breathability you need to keep moving. While it isn't as warm or water-resistant as other softshells in our review, you can always bring a rain jacket or an insulating layer to deal with colder temps or a rainstorm. For all these reasons, we awarded this jacket the sought-after Editors' Choice award for performing well across nearly all the metrics in our review.
— Mary Witlacil
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