The Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody is a fantastic jacket that we found ourselves reaching for again and again; the only reason other contenders scored higher was because they provided more warmth. This contender is thin and not the best suited for intense wind or frigid temperatures unless you will be keeping your heart rate up the entire time. But for aerobic hikes, snowshoeing, or mild weather skiing this is an excellent layer. We also chose the Gamma LT as our Top Pick for Rock Climbing because of how durable the material is and how well it allowed our body to breathe while climbing. It's small and light enough to bring up a multi-pitch climb without feeling burdened, the pockets are harness compatible, and the hood is roomy. Overall we found this to be an impressive piece on the more affordable end of typical Arc'teryx prices.
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's ReviewPrice: $249 List | $248.98 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, durable, great arm length, flattering cut, excellent breathability and water resistance
Cons: Thin, cuffs aren't adjustable, pricey
Bottom line: While there were warmer models in our review, in every other aspect the Gamma LT Hoody was a winner, providing top notch breathability, durability, and mobility.
Measured Weight - Size Medium (g): 432g
Material: Wee Burly Double Weave (56% nylon, 34% polyester, 10% elastane), DWR finish
RELATED REVIEW: The 11 Best Softshell Jackets for Women
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody is well-tailored and moderately feature-rich, providing an excellent layer for more aerobic activities in swing season temperatures. The stellar mobility and breathability combined with durable fabric, harness-friendly pockets, and a helmet-compatible hood meant this was our Top Pick for Rock Climbing - but we loved it for all kinds of other activities as well.
The Gamma LT didn't receive the highest score in this category due to its light, thin material. While it's an impressive shell all around, when stacked up against some of our thicker, more insulative models, this one was noticeably not as warm.
"LT" is the shorthand Arc'teryx gives to lightweight items, and they recommend this jacket in particular for alpine and backcountry excursions. We agree with this designation with one caveat: as long as you're keeping your heart rate up. If you're wearing this layer in the alpine and it gets overly windy, or the weather turns, you will be cold - especially if you're not moving. But if the weather stays relatively temperate and you're staying active, we predict you'll be happy as a clam. Obviously, we also loved this shell for climbing, hence the Top Pick award. But when we say climbing we mean mild temperature swing season rock climbing - not potential snow storm alpine climbing and mountaineering.
While the Gamma LT was thin enough to let some wind and cold through, the patented Wee Burly Double Weave fabric and DWR finish was notably impressive for keeping water out. We wore each jacket into the shower to see how long it could repel an intense dousing, and the Gamma LT was one of the more impressive performers.
Some of the jackets we felt were the best for weather protection were our Top Pick for Warmth, the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody, our Best Buy award winner, the windproof Marmot Moblis, and our Editors' Choice winner and other Arc'teryx model, the Gamma MX Hoody.
The Gamma LT excelled in this metric, providing some of the best breathability in our whole review. The only other model we found comparable was our Best Buy on a Tight Budget, the Ferrosi Crosstown Hoody, but its material was also thinner and not nearly as weather protective.
From climbing in the sun to early morning trail runs and high altitude snow hikes in variable temperatures, the Gamma LT kept us protected but not stifled. We chose to give this layer a Top Pick for Rock Climbing because, along with its fantastic breathability, the material is extremely durable, almost defying its weight. The pockets are also mesh-lined for added ventilation when needed.
For excellent breathability in a more solid, weather protective jacket, we like our Editors' Choice, the Gamma MX Hoody, the plush Ascendant Hoody, and the very comfortable Dawn Patrol.
This was one of our favorite jackets for mobility. It's constructed with a stretch textile and has gusseted underarms and an athletic fit - a pretty winning combination for movement.
No matter what activity we undertook in the Gamma LT it moved and stretched easily and naturally. We especially loved how comfortable it was to climb in, never feeling cumbersome or bulky. The one model we found better in this category was the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol, with its four-way stretch material, but that jacket was also thicker and bulkier. Other notable performances were the Gamma MX Hoody and the Ferrosi Crosstown.
At 15.3 ounces this was the fourth lightest model in our review.
While there were lighter contenders in our review, only one of those provided better weather protection than the Gamma LT. The 11.5 ounce Ascendant Hoody, our Top Pick for Warmth was, no surprise, impressively warm. But it suffered from some durability issues that the tenacious Gamma LT most certainly did not. One of the reasons we feel this is such a great jacket for activities like climbing is because it's light enough to barely make a dent in your pack weight or on your body.
There were pieces with more features in our review, but overall the Gamma LT had everything we expect in a competent softshell.
This layer provides excellent moisture resistance, highly breathable and durable fabric, gusseted underarms, stretch wrist gussets, a helmet compatible two-way adjustable hood, two harness compatible zippered hand pockets, and one internal zippered pocket. It also has an adjustable drawcord hem, a drop back hem for better coverage, and an athletic fit for a slim, flattering profile. While the cuffs weren't adjustable, they were a decent size, and the stretch gusset allowed them to stay put when pushed up to the forearms.
All of the higher scoring contenders in this competition offered a pretty similar list of features except for a few select cases. The North Face Apex Flex GTX, a rain jacket/softshell hybrid offers a Gore-tex exterior and pit zips. The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol has four-way stretch material along with an excellent hood and strategic pocket placement for climbers, skiers, and anyone else that needs to wear a helmet and a pack or harness. And the Rab Upslope has an unprecedented six zippered pockets, mesh-lined to aid in breathability.
It's no surprise to most gearheads that Arc'teryx makes beautiful things. So we weren't at all shocked to find that both jackets we tested from them looked good and fit well.
The slim athletic profile on this jacket gave it a flattering look that was easy to feel good in. The other Arc'teryx contender, the Gamma MX Hoody, was also a favorite of all our testers. For a less technical, more casual urban look, we really got a kick out of the sweatshirt style of the Ferrosi Crosstown.
During milder weather, there honestly isn't much we wouldn't recommend this jacket for. It's fantastic for any activity requiring a lot of movement and exertion because it's got stellar breathability and a comfortable well-tailored fit. While the thin material is not conducive to overly heavy winds or rain, we felt adequately protected in less intense weather, and the slim fit meant we could layer this jacket under another warmer shell if needed. The Gamma LT Hoody was impressively durable for its light weight, one of the reasons we liked it so much for rock climbing. This model has all of the right features, and no part of it felt irritating or superfluous.
At $249, this jacket was the third most expensive jacket in our review. However, we think that's a fair price for how well-made and high performing it is. The material is exceptionally durable, so we have little doubt this piece will last a long time and pay for itself over and over again. But it's important to consider what activities you will be using your softshell for. If you're primarily going to be in severe weather, then this layer alone won't be enough - you will want a hardshell or something else to wear over it. But if a decent amount of your time will also be spent in warmer temps or engaging in highly aerobic activities, this is an excellent layer to have as part of your outdoor wardrobe.
In many ways, the Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody was a favorite in our review. It breathes impeccably, moves with ease, can withstand getting scratched and scuffed with no problem, and had all the right features for a plethora of outdoor adventures. While it's simply not thick or insulative enough for super intense wind or cold, its slim cut can easily fit under another burlier layer. Bottom line, we loved this jacket and think it's an excellent layer at a committing-but-not-crazy price point that will serve you well for many years and many outings.
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Most recent review: December 27, 2017
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