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 | $322.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy mobility, breathable, helmet-compatible hood, excellent fit, comfortable
Cons:  Pricey, non-adjustable cuffs
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 17, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 15
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9
  • Breathability - 30% 6
  • Mobility - 25% 8
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Versatility - 5% 9

Our Verdict

Year after year the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody checks all the boxes of what a great softshell for cool weather should be. It's well-tailored, comfortable, decently breathable, and easy to move in. While this jacket isn't perfect for everything, we've found it to be the best choice across the broadest range of non-summer activities — a layer you can take out without disappointment or frustration. The wrist cuffs are tight and not adjustable, and the hood is on the small side, but neither issue bothered us when out in the field. The Gamma MX 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. But if you're looking for a softshell for the long haul, a companion for many excursions over many years, this is an excellent candidate.

If your budget is more conservative, both of our Best Buy winners, the ultralight and sleek Rab Borealis and the ultrathin Outdoor Research Whirlwind Pullover are fantastic options. They aren't candidates for chilly weather but can easily be layered. Options that will be more capable of keeping the cold at bay while still not breaking the bank are the fleece-lined Mountain Hardwear Keele Hoody or the PrimaLoft-insulated Black Diamond First Light Hybrid.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $322.00 at Amazon$124.93 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$56.73 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$114.95 at Amazon$194.73 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Easy mobility, breathable, helmet-compatible hood, excellent fit, comfortableHighly breathable, quick-drying, harness and helmet compatible, stowable hood, durableSuper breathable, great sun layer, excellent mobility, chest pocket doubles as stuff sack, thumb loopVery lightweight, excellent mobility, highly breathable, great fit, affordable.Full-legth side zippers, excellent fit, windproof, lined, thumbholes
Cons Pricey, non-adjustable cuffsNot very warm, only one pocketNot warm, less durable than other options, hem adjustment piece is bulkyNot warm, only two pocketsLess breathable due to windproofing, expensive
Bottom Line For the best all-around softshell we've found, look no further than this stretchy, breathable, and attractive layer.This lightweight and streamlined pullover is a fabulously durable layer that breathes like a dream and dries lightning fast.This thin pullover is perfect for when you just need that little bit of extra protection while standing in the sun, working up a sweat, or shimmying up a rock face.This smart and ultralight softshell is extremely easy to move in and highly breathable - an excellent pick for the movement-minded adventure seeker.This innovative hoody ups the ante with great features like full-length side zips, fantastic mobility, and excellent weather protection.
Rating Categories Gamma MX Hoody Sigma SL Anorak Pullover Whirlwind Pullover Rab Borealis - Women's Ultimate V SO Hooded Jacket
Weather Protection (30%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
3
10
0
4
10
0
8
Breathability (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
Mobility (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
Weight (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
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10
10
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10
10
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7
Versatility (5%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
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8
Specs Gamma MX Hoody Sigma SL Anorak... Whirlwind Pullover Rab Borealis -... Ultimate V SO...
Measured Weight - Size Medium (oz) 17.1oz 9.5oz 8.2oz 8.3oz 13.1oz
Material Fortius 2.0 - Face: 85% nylon, 15% elastane. Backer: 94% polyester, 6% elastane, DWR finish Aequora Airperm - 86% nylon, 14% elastane 86% recycled polyester, 14% spandex, 75D stretch woven Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR 100% polyester
Lined/Insulated? Yes No No No Yes
Hood Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, stretchy but not adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable
Helmet Compatible? Yes Yes Yes Yes, underneath Yes, underneath
Wind Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes, windproof
Water Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted) 4 (2 hand, 1 chest, 1 sleeve) 1 chest 1 chest 2 hand 2 hand
Adjustable Cuffs? No No No No Yes
Available Sizes XS - L XS - L XS - XL XS - XL XS - XXL

Our Analysis and Test Results

A stretchy and deluxe softshell, the Gamma MX Hoody is an ideal piece for activities that require a lot of movement and a little extra weather protection. It earns our highest award season after season because of its lavish comfort and 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 designation on this shell stands for 'mixed weather,' and that's where it excels. The Gamma MX provides mixed usage protection in changing weather conditions. It sheds water for a time and blocks a decent amount of wind, though it won't shelter you from a severe storm or downpour. In that situation, you would want 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 find this jacket to be a solid performer through all kinds of cold 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 adequately breathable, particularly when you consider that it has a lining and is on the heavy side.



This shell hits an excellent balance between protection and ventilation. Whether biking, skiing, running or hiking in the glacial alpine, it allows the body to breathe better than most lined options. 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 appreciate.

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.
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.

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. It doesn't ride up when you raise your arms and 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 tighter than on other 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 bottom half of our test suite.


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 considerably 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 our Top Pick for a Windproof Layer, the 13.1-ounce Mammut Ultimate V SO Hooded Jacket or our Top Pick for a Waterproof Layer, the 10-ounce Rab Kinetic Plus.

The Gamma MX is on the heavier side  but it also offers excellent comfort and weather protection.
The Gamma MX is on the heavier side, but it also offers excellent comfort and weather protection.

Versatility


The Gamma MX offers excellent features suitable to the ice climber, backcountry skier, or general swing season athlete. It has a slim and contoured fit that provides a flattering profile for all manner of activities, remote or urban. Easy to move in and highly durable, this is a very versatile softshell to invest in.


The helmet-compatible hood adjusts for volume in the back and around the face. The hood features a stiff, laminated brim, which helps keep 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 if you're 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.

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.

The construction quality of this piece is very high with well thought-out and useful details. It has a durable, thick wind flap behind the easy-to-use zipper that prevents snagging and that also blocks cold air from coming inside. The material by the face is a very soft fleece which prevents chin chap when the hood is cinched down. The fabric is easy to keep new-looking, and the available colors are fun and appealing. 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.

Best Application


Since the Gamma shines in the mobility and weather resistance 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, from a casual dog-walk or bike ride to an intense day in the mountains, and it will keep you comfortable all the way.

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


This 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 piece 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 excellent weather protection, mobility, and comfort. We think this piece best exemplifies the desirable characteristics of a cool-weather softshell which is why it carries over the Editors' Choice award year after 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