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Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's Review

A feature-rich, aesthetically pleasing technical softshell with great mobility, breathability, and excellent weather resistance
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's
Photo: Arc'teryx
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $249 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Excellent mobility, great weather resistance, breathable, durable, flattering cut
Cons:  Thin, non-adjustable cuffs, spendy
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Mary Witlacil ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 19, 2021
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • Weather Protection - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 30% 8
  • Mobility - 25% 9
  • Weight - 10% 5
  • Versatility - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT is a fantastic technical softshell that strikes an ideal balance between weather resistance, mobility, and breathability. This jacket features a helmet-compatible hood, durable fabric coated with DWR for added water resistance, and four-way stretch "Wee Burley" fabric that facilitates unimpeded movement. All these features make this a fantastic jacket for alpine climbing, mountaineering, peak bagging, windy hikes, or warmer backcountry ski days. While this jacket is on the pricier side, we think it's a fantastic and durable option for folks seeking an ideal softshell for alpine adventure days and beyond.

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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
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$214.95 at Backcountry$91.96 at Backcountry
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Pros Excellent mobility, great weather resistance, breathable, durable, flattering cutInsulated, highly breathable, moisture-wicking, comfortable, great weather protection, durable, lots of pocketsGreat mobility, very breathable, wind/water resistantInexpensive, stellar mobility and breathability, stow-away pocket, harness-friendly pockets, excellent fitUltralight, comfortable, fairly breathable, stow-away pocket, ideal for summer and fair weather activities
Cons Thin, non-adjustable cuffs, spendySpendy, no stow-away pocket for clipping to your harness, hood somewhat small, some reviewers feel it runs smallHeavier weight, snug in the shoulders, priceyNot very warm, below average water resistanceSizing runs a bit large, not very weather resistant, not durable, hem rides-up while climbing
Bottom Line A feature-rich, aesthetically pleasing technical softshell with great mobility, breathability, and excellent weather resistanceA lightweight, insulated but breathable jacket, that is the best hybrid we've reviewedA fantastic technical softshell for backcountry alpine pursuits, striking a great balance between weather resistance, breathability, and mobilityThis wicked light softshell has great mobility, is highly breathable and well-tailored - a perfect layer for fair-weather climbing or hikingAn ultra-light, ultra-packable, and fairly breathable wind layer for summer climbing and hiking
Rating Categories Gamma LT Hoody Proton FL Hoody Marmot ROM 2.0 - Wo... Rab Borealis - Women's Kor Preshell Hoody
Weather Protection (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
3.0
Breathability (30%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
10.0
10.0
Mobility (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (10%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
Versatility (5%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
5.0
Specs Gamma LT Hoody Proton FL Hoody Marmot ROM 2.0 - Wo... Rab Borealis - Women's Kor Preshell Hoody
Measured Weight 15.5 oz (size S) 9.5 oz (size S) 14 oz (size S) 9 oz (size 10/S) 4 oz (size XS)
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 Pertex Quantum Air 20D stretch ripstop
Type Active Technical/Hybrid Technical Active Active
Lined/Insulated? No Yes No No No
Hood? Yes, 3-way adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, stretchy but not adjustable Yes, stretchy but not 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 3 (2 hand, 1 interior drop-in)
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.

Performance Comparison


Cool morning approaches in the desert are no problem for the Gamma...
Cool morning approaches in the desert are no problem for the Gamma LT. This softshell is a lightweight and breathable option to take the edge off the wind, while still keeping you from getting swampy on the hike.
Photo: Mary Witlacil

Weather Protection


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.

The DWR coating on the Gamma LT prevents the water from soaking...
The DWR coating on the Gamma LT prevents the water from soaking through, while still be stretchy and flexible enough to move well - unlike a dedicated hardshell.
Photo: Mary Witlacil

Breathability


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.

The Gamma LT was the perfect jacket for late spring hikes in the...
The Gamma LT was the perfect jacket for late spring hikes in the foothills - keeping us warm and dry in a light drizzle, while still dumping sweat while moving.
Photo: Jared Ross

Mobility


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.

If you're looking for a jacket that keeps you warm while climbing in...
If you're looking for a jacket that keeps you warm while climbing in the shade, but enables you to keep moving unhindered, the Gamma LT checks both of those boxes. Here, our lead reviewer, Mary Witlacil shows how the Gamma LT is an ideal layer for maintaining psyche while climbing in the Black Canyon.
Photo: Mary Witlacil

Weight


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.

While the Gamma LT is among the heavier softshells in our review, it...
While the Gamma LT is among the heavier softshells in our review, it is light enough to stash that you won't necessarily notice it in your pack, but warm and breathable enough that you'll be glad you did.
Photo: Jared Ross

Versatility


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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

We loved the mobility, breathability, and weather resistance of the...
We loved the mobility, breathability, and weather resistance of the Gamma LT. It's a great option for alpine approaches, peak bagging, windy/shady climbing, and mountaineering. And the durable fabric and intelligent design mean you'll be moving in this jacket for years to come.
Photo: Jared Ross

Mary Witlacil