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Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's Review

Burly weather protection and aesthetic design combine to make a great technical softshell for both urban and alpine winter environments
Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's
Photo: Arc'teryx
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Price:  $349 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Great weather protection, decent mobility, stylish, comfortable, excellent fit, helmet compatible hood
Cons:  Spendy, non-adjustable cuffs, heavy, not super breathable
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett  ⋅  May 19, 2021
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 12
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9
  • Breathability - 30% 5
  • Mobility - 25% 7
  • Weight - 10% 4
  • Versatility - 5% 6

Our Verdict

Tried, tested, and true - the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody covers nearly everything you need out for a great technical softshell suitable for cold weather. It is well-tailored, comfortable, and features decent mobility. While this jacket isn't perfect for everything, we've found it to be one of the best choices for a broad 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 much when out in the field. The one major drawback with this shell is the price — it's the most expensive jacket in our review. But if you're looking for a durable, aesthetically pleasing softshell for ice/mixed climbing, winter mountaineering, or cold-weather activities of all varieties, then this one is hard to beat.

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Price $349 List
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Pros Great weather protection, decent mobility, stylish, comfortable, excellent fit, helmet compatible hoodInsulated, highly breathable, moisture-wicking, comfortable, great weather protection, durable, lots of pocketsExcellent mobility, great weather resistance, breathable, durable, flattering cutGreat mobility, very breathable, wind/water resistantInexpensive, stellar mobility and breathability, stow-away pocket, harness-friendly pockets, excellent fit
Cons Spendy, non-adjustable cuffs, heavy, not super breathableSpendy, no stow-away pocket for clipping to your harness, hood somewhat small, some reviewers feel it runs smallThin, non-adjustable cuffs, spendyHeavier weight, snug in the shoulders, priceyNot very warm, below average water resistance
Bottom Line Burly weather protection and aesthetic design combine to make a great technical softshell for both urban and alpine winter environmentsA lightweight, insulated but breathable jacket, that is the best hybrid we've reviewedA feature-rich, aesthetically pleasing technical softshell with great mobility, breathability, and excellent weather resistanceA 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 hiking
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Gamma MX... Arc'teryx Proton FL... Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Marmot ROM 2.0 - Wo... Rab Borealis - Women's
Weather Protection (30%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Breathability (30%)
5.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
Mobility (25%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Weight (10%)
4.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
8.0
Versatility (5%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
Specs Arc'teryx Gamma MX... Arc'teryx Proton FL... Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Marmot ROM 2.0 - Wo... Rab Borealis - Women's
Measured Weight 16 oz (size S) 9.5 oz (size S) 15.5 oz (size S) 14 oz (size S) 9 oz (size 10/S)
Material Fortius 2.0 - Face: 85% nylon, 15% elastane. Backer: 94% polyester, 6% elastane, DWR finish 84% nylon, 16% elastane Wee Burly Double Weave (56% nylon, 34% polyester, 10% elastane), DWR finish 92% Nylon, 8% Elastane Plain Weave Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR
Type Technical Technical/Hybrid Active Technical Active
Lined/Insulated? Yes Yes No No No
Hood? Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, 3-way adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, stretchy but not adjustable
Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted) 4 (2 hand, 1 chest, 1 sleeve) 4 (2 hand, 2 chest) 3 (2 hand, 1 internal) 4 (2 hand, 2 chest) 2 hand
Adjustable Cuffs? No, Stretch Cuffs No, Stretch Cuffs No, Stretch Cuffs Yes, Velcro No, Stretch Cuffs
Available Sizes XS - L XS - XL XS - XL XS - XL 8 - 16

Our Analysis and Test Results

Stretchy, comfortable, stylish, and warm: the Gamma MX Hoody is a great jacket for all manner of winter missions from hiking and snowshoeing to ice/mixed climbing, and backcountry skiing. While it isn't the most breathable or versatile jacket in our review, we reach for it time and again when headed out for some winter fun.

Performance Comparison


The Gamma MX is a great layer for backcountry winter adventures.
The Gamma MX is a great layer for backcountry winter adventures.
Photo: Michael Goodhue

Weather Protection


The MX designation on this shell stands for 'mixed weather,' which is where it excels. The Gamma MX is a plushly-lined technical softshell that is dang warm on cold days ice climbing or skiing. It is incredibly wind-resistant and is a welcome companion on windy ridgelines and in icy canyons. The face fabric is treated with a DWR coating that will protect you from light precip or dry snow. In the shower test, the Gamma MX performed better than average but soaked through completely after four minutes.

Despite doing somewhat poorly on water resistance tests, the Gamma MX is a great jacket for cold days ice climbing in high winds. It kept our reviewer dry, even on moderately wet ice climbs. It handles well and provides sufficient protection from storms during blustery days with snow flurries, but given the low performance of this jacket in the shower tests, it would not be our go-to option for days with lots of wet snow or on days when the ice is super wet or spraying. That said, the Gamma MX fares well as a warm outer layer on most ice-climbing days in sunny and (relatively) dry Colorado. The likelihood of soaking through this jacket would be much more of an issue in the Northeast or in the UK, where ice climbing is a wetter affair on balance.

After 4 minutes in the shower, the Gamma MX showed only minimal...
After 4 minutes in the shower, the Gamma MX showed only minimal signs of wetting through, which is pretty impressive considering this jacket doesn't have taped seams.

Breathability


The Gamma MX did not perform as well in terms of breathability, though it is decently breathable given its impressive warmth and weather protection. We were psyched during approaches and while hiking, as long as it was properly cold or the hikes weren't too long. As soon as we got our heart rates up, we had to ditch this shell to avoid getting sweaty. The Gamma MX does have three mesh-lined pockets — two hand pockets and one chest pocket — which you can open up for extra ventilation - which proved useful while climbing. Overall, this jacket achieves a reasonable balance between decent breathability for the warmth it offers, and excellent weather protection, which makes it a great option for almost all backcountry winter endeavors - especially for those of us who run cold.

The Gamma MX does not have pit-zips or very breathable fabric, which...
The Gamma MX does not have pit-zips or very breathable fabric, which means that it can be too toasty on approaches, but the fabric regulates sweat well enough to be a rad layer while ice climbing.
Photo: Michael Goodhue

Mobility


Despite the warm fleece lining on the Gamma MX, it scores surprisingly high marks in terms of mobility. It features four-way stretch and is well-tailored, which spells success for ice or mixed climbing, backcountry skiing, and hiking or snowshoeing. The design includes some serious forethought, with the inclusion of gusseted underarms, articulated elbows, and plush stretchy fabric. All of these features lend to excellent mobility in a jacket without supremely stretchy fabric. Our only real complaint with respect to mobility is that when your arms are over your head (as when climbing), the hemline tends to ride up. This is not an issue with most activities but can be pretty annoying when you get to the top of a pitch of climbing and discover a draft on the small of your back and have to fuss with your jacket to pull it back under your harness. Additionally, when you wear the generous hood over a climbing helmet, it tends to fit a little snugly around your face — though not enough to be a real problem unless you have a long neck and torso. Whether hiking, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, or just running around town, this layer is comfortable and fairly non-restrictive.

The Gamma MX features four-way stretch and offers pretty decent...
The Gamma MX features four-way stretch and offers pretty decent mobility, though it does lift up in the back while climbing. You can just barely see our reviewer's insulation layer poking through between the Gamma and her pants.

Weight


In a size small, the Gamma MX weighs 16 ounces, placing it among the heavier softshells in our test suite. This is mostly due to the fleece lining and generous features. While it is a bit heavy on the scale, this jacket doesn't feel too cumbersome or heavy to wear and would be a great option for a winter jacket in the front or backcountry.

The Gamma MX performs like an absolute boss through blowing snow...
The Gamma MX performs like an absolute boss through blowing snow, frigid temperatures, and intense winds high in the Rocky Mountains.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Versatility


For this metric, we considered each jacket's durability and features and then considered versatility in terms of the range of ideal activities and climates for each jacket. The Gamma MX offers excellent features suitable for ice/mixed climbing, backcountry/cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking. However, while this jacket is great in bad weather, it is a bit too burly for fair-weather activities and would likely be too cumbersome for rock climbing. That said, it has a well-tailored fit that is awesome for moving between the backcountry and the front-country. The helmet-compatible hood adjusts for volume in the back and around the face and features a stiff, laminated brim, which helps keep it firmly in place on a helmet. The hood fits fairly easily over a helmet and adjusts down to fit well over a bare head as well, but is decently comfortable even without adjusting it down.

The hood on the Gamma MX is spacious enough for a helmet and...
The hood on the Gamma MX is spacious enough for a helmet and comfortable even without cinching it down.
Photo: Scott Sinor

The Gamma MX has four pockets — one small laminated sleeve pocket, one garaged chest pocket, and two hand pockets. The stretch-woven cuffs are not adjustable, so they can't be tightened around glove cuffs, but they do slide smoothly underneath gauntlet-style gloves. 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 that 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. Overall, this innovatively designed jacket is feature-rich, attractive, and is an excellent option for winter backcountry missions.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


This is the most expensive jacket in our review, making it a commitment to purchase. However, paying a luxury price for an excellent item 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 MX, 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.

The Gamma MX is a solid jacket for activities like ice climbing.
The Gamma MX is a solid jacket for activities like ice climbing.
Photo: Michael Goodhue

Conclusion


A high-end softshell, the stretchy Gamma MX Hoody offers excellent weather protection, mobility, warmth, comfort, and style. This jacket provides some of the best and most desirable features for a technical winter softshell, effectively protecting you from the elements and moving seamlessly between a winter backcountry adventure to dinner with friends.

The Gamma MX is an awesome layer for cold and blustery winter days.
The Gamma MX is an awesome layer for cold and blustery winter days.
Photo: Michael Goodhue

Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett