The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's Review

For the best all-around softshell we've found, look no further than this stretchy, breathable, and attractive layer.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $349 List | $260.99 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Easy mobility, breathable, helmet-compatible hood, excellent fit, comfortable
Cons:  Pricey, non-adjustable cuffs
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 27, 2018
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9
  • Breathability - 30% 8
  • Mobility - 20% 8
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Features - 5% 7
  • Style - 5% 9

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody is a clear winner in our book, year after year, test after test. When you read the definition of what a softshell strives to be, this layer checks all the boxes. It's comfortable, breathable, stretchy, well featured, and expertly tailored. This jacket is the best choice for activities across the broadest range of uses. While other models may be better for specific outings, the Gamma MX is a layer that we could take out for almost anything without disappointment or frustration. The wrist cuffs are tight and not adjustable, and the hood is on the small side, but we don't notice either issue in the field. The Gamma is also a bit heavy due to its lining, though that also ups its weather protection considerably. The one major drawback with this shell is the price — it's the most expensive piece in our review by a long shot. But if you're looking for a softshell for the long haul, a companion for the majority of your outdoor excursions, this is an excellent candidate.

This year the Gamma MX shares our top award with the Arc'teryx Psiphon FL Hoody, our Editor's Choice for Fast and Light. The Psiphon just barely edged out a higher score due to its slightly superior mobility, breathability, and pack weight — but it's not as protective or cozy. If your budget is more conservative, both of our Best Buy winners, the ultralight and sleek Rab Borealis and the well-featured Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded are also fantastic options.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

A lightweight, stretchy, and deluxe softshell, the Gamma MX Hoody is an ideal piece for high-exertion activities that require a lot of movement and breathability. It earns our highest award for the third time because of its lavish comfort and mobility as well as its competent wind and water resistance.

Performance Comparison


The Gamma MX is an all-around champion. It was able to withstand squeezing through slot canyons from both a movement and a durability standpoint  all the while keeping our testers protected from all manner of weather variables.
The Gamma MX is an all-around champion. It was able to withstand squeezing through slot canyons from both a movement and a durability standpoint, all the while keeping our testers protected from all manner of weather variables.

Weather Protection


The MX stands for mixed weather and that's where the Gamma MX excels. It provides mixed usage protection in changing weather conditions. It sheds water for a time and blocks a decent amount of wind, but it won't shelter you from a storm or downpour. In that situation, you would need a hardshell.


The Gamma has a DWR finish that beads and sheds water and a hood that cinches down to block against windy weather. Overall we found this jacket to be a solid performer through all kinds of chilly and windy swing season activities. If you want to add a softshell to your wardrobe that you can feel confident about and that will last for many years, this is a fantastic choice.

Our Editors' Choice performed like the champ it is through blowing snow  frigid temperatures  and intense winds high in the Rocky Mountains.
Our Editors' Choice performed like the champ it is through blowing snow, frigid temperatures, and intense winds high in the Rocky Mountains.

Breathability


The Gamma MX is one of the more breathable models in our review, especially because it's lined and a bit on the heavy side.



This shell hits a critical balance between protection and ventilation. Whether biking, skiing, running or hiking in the glacial alpine, it allows the body to breathe. This is a big reason this jacket continues to win our Editors' Choice award year after year. As a bonus, if you are working hard and need more airflow, you can unzip the sizeable mesh-lined hand pockets to use them as vents, a helpful detail that we appreciated.

A steep hike up to a glacier in the winter really proved to us that the Gamma MX Hoody can not only handle some wind and low temps but also feel great when raising the heart rate and getting sweaty.
A steep hike up to a glacier in the winter really proved to us that the Gamma MX Hoody can not only handle some wind and low temps but also feel great when raising the heart rate and getting sweaty.

Mobility


Mobility is another area where this shell excels. With underarm gussets, articulated elbows, and lush stretchy fabric, this jacket is easy to move in and an overall joy to wear.


The tailoring on the Gamma MX is top notch, and the jacket does not ride up when you raise your arms. It moves expertly along with you during all types of activities. Whether hiking, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, or just running around town, this layer is comfortable and non-restrictive. When worn over a helmet, the hood is slightly more noticeable than on other lighter weight models, but not enough to cause discomfort or irritation.

The Gamma MX was well-appreciated while navigating the unknowns of chilly Utah canyons.
The Gamma MX was well-appreciated while navigating the unknowns of chilly Utah canyons.

Weight


The insulative lining of this jacket adds a bit of weight, landing the Gamma in the middle of our competitive pack.


At 17.1 ounces, we don't consider this shell so heavy as to be cumbersome. Thus we have no reservations about recommending it for long days in the mountains. That said, it is bulkier than other options in our review. The tradeoff is better weather protection, but if you need to go lighter and smaller, we recommend looking at the impressive Psiphon FL Hoody or the minimal Rab Borealis.

Between its comfort and its moderate weight  this jacket was easy to pack  easy to wear  and easy to love.
Between its comfort and its moderate weight, this jacket was easy to pack, easy to wear, and easy to love.

Features


The Gamma MX has the perfect list of features suitable to the ice climber, backcountry skier, or general swing season athlete.


The helmet-compatible hood adjusts for volume in the back and around the face. The hood features a stiff, laminated brim, which is helpful for keeping it firmly in place on a helmet and for blocking sun or rain from the eyes. It fits over a helmet fairly easily and also adjusts down to fit well over a bare head.

The hood on the Gamma MX is easy to adjust whether you have a helmet on or not.
The hood on the Gamma MX is easy to adjust whether you have a helmet on or not.

The Gamma has four pockets — one laminated sleeve pocket, one garaged chest pocket, and two hand pockets. While it's a little tight, the hand pockets are indeed accessible while wearing a harness. The stretch-woven cuffs are not adjustable, so they can't be tightened around glove cuffs, but they do slide smoothly underneath gloves with a long gauntlet. This simple design keeps the jacket lighter and more streamlined, though we did often find ourselves struggling a bit to get our hands in and out as the cuffs are quite narrow and tight. Most of our testers prefer models with adjustable velcro cuffs, but some people dislike this feature, in which case the cuff configuration on the Gamma MX is a bonus.

You know it's going to be a good adventure day when your jacket moves well  keeps you warm  and also allows you to get in your pockets with a harness on.
You know it's going to be a good adventure day when your jacket moves well, keeps you warm, and also allows you to get in your pockets with a harness on.

In general, we find the construction quality of this piece very high and the details to be well thought-out and useful. It has a durable, thick wind flap behind the zipper that prevents snagging and also blocks cold air from coming inside the jacket. The plastic zipper is durable and easy to zip. The material by the face is a very soft, fine fleece, which prevents chin chap when the hood is zipped all the way closed. All these features add to the comfort and ease of wear of this jacket.

Style


The Gamma MX is slim and contour-fitting, providing a flattering fit and a look that we enjoy for all manner of activities — even those centered in the city. Sure, this layer is slightly more technical than a favored casual around-town piece, but it looks decidedly less techy than many other models.


We felt at ease, natural, and even a bit classy wearing the Gamma MX from the mountains to the grocery store to drinks with friends. We like how durable and easy to keep new-looking the material is, and the available colors are fun and appealing. Most importantly, we love that this contender's comfort makes us want to throw it on every time we walk out the door.

This jacket kept us feeling stylish no matter what direction the day took.
This jacket kept us feeling stylish no matter what direction the day took.

Best Application


Since the Gamma MX shines in the mobility and breathability categories, it excels at high-exertion fall and winter activities such as backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, hiking, and snowshoeing. This shell has an extensive range of uses, which is one of the reasons it holds on to our Editors' Choice award once again, despite sharing the throne with the Psiphon FL. From a casual dog-walk or bike ride to an intense day in the mountains, this shell will keep you comfortable.

Even when we couldn't get to the mountains we loved having the Gamma MX around for things like cold urban bike rides and general commuting.
Even when we couldn't get to the mountains we loved having the Gamma MX around for things like cold urban bike rides and general commuting.

Value


The Gamma MX is the most expensive jacket in our review, making it a commitment to purchase. However, paying a luxury price for the best option can be worthwhile. This jacket is exceptionally comfortable, which is one of the main things you want in a softshell. If you decide to throw down and purchase the Gamma, we don't think you will be disappointed. Making your investment even more worthwhile is the fact that this jacket is extremely durable, and the classic look is likely to remain stylish for years to come.

Conclusion


A high-end softshell, the stretchy Gamma MX Hoody offers exceptional breathability, mobility, and comfort. It maintains a classic style while still protecting in mild to moderate weather. We think this piece exemplifies the desirable characteristics of a softshell more than any other piece we tested, which is why it carries over the Editors' Choice award for yet another year.

Climbing  hiking  biking  skiing... whatever your pleasure  this jacket will be a welcome addition to your wardrobe.
Climbing, hiking, biking, skiing... whatever your pleasure, this jacket will be a welcome addition to your wardrobe.


Penney Garrett