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

Arc'teryx Psiphon FL Hoody - Women's Review

This is a fantastic, well-featured technical layer that offers excellent mobility, breathability, and wind resistance.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $240 List
Pros:  Lightweight, highly mobile and breathable, well-featured, good in the wind
Cons:  Not the most weather protective, on the pricey side
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2018
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Psiphon FL Hoody soared to the top of the pack easily and gracefully. It nabbed top score after top score, finishing just one point above our reigning Editors' Choice, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody. We haven't had a softshell come even close to the Gamma in years. We decided to let these two jackets share the crown because they are both fantastic and offer different benefits. The Gamma MX remains our favorite for colder temps as it's thicker and warmer. But the Psiphon FL, our Editor's Choice for Fast and Light adventures, is thinner, lighter, more breathable, and offers features ideal for long adventurous days.

The only downside is that it's not the most weather protective option. But that means it's highly mobile and breathable. It's also an easy piece to layer if the weather does turn icky. From the stowable hood, to the adjustable cuffs, to the special inserts that keep the hem securely below a harness, the Psiphon is a top-of-the-line piece that we're delighted to have in our review.

While it's a bit pricey, it's not crazy. But, if you want to stay light and minimal and need to keep cost down, our Best Buy for Climbing, the Rab Borealis is a fantastic choice for less than half the price.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you want a layer that's well-featured, lightweight, and high-performing, the Psiphon FL Hoody may be your dream come true. This smart layer is completely at home on local trails, in the alpine, or climbing up a rock face. It offers superior mobility, breathability, and the longest feature-list of any of our contenders.

Performance Comparison


Form meets function with this impressive softshell hoody.
Form meets function with this impressive softshell hoody.

Weather Protection


The Psiphon is an excellent shell but it is thin and, therefore, not the most weather protective. This is a layer to consider if you plan to engage in activities that will keep your heart rate up. It's not meant for anything too cold or wet, though the good tailoring and smart lines mean it's an easy piece to layer if needed.


The Psiphon wasn't able to keep water at bay very long during our water tests, and, in the interest of staying lightweight, it's quite thin. However, we do find it to be quite a competent wind layer. Our testers were able to stay decently warm in the sun on chilly and breezy days, even when not moving much. That said, this is a better layer for high exertion outings and milder days.

The Psiphon is warm enough in cold temps if you stay moving constantly - but stopping to take this photo we got cold! It's best suited for milder weather and wind unless you're really working up a sweat.
The Psiphon is warm enough in cold temps if you stay moving constantly - but stopping to take this photo we got cold! It's best suited for milder weather and wind unless you're really working up a sweat.

Breathability


The Psiphon FL is a highly breathable layer, among the best in our entire review.


It's wind resistant and durable, perfect for saving your skin with things like off-width climbing, yet the material still allows the body to breathe and regulate temperature. The pockets are all mesh-lined as well, so opening those up can help with heat dumping and breathability even more. Whether you need an extra layer on chilly days or some extra sun protection on balmy ones, the Psiphon has you covered — literally and figuratively.

Mesh-lined pockets help with the already-very-breathable nature of this jacket.
Mesh-lined pockets help with the already-very-breathable nature of this jacket.

Mobility


Another area where this layer excels, securing its place at the top of our review. This is an ideal jacket for anything that requires that critical balance between protection and ventilation.


The Psiphon FL is clearly made for movement. It has gusseted underarms to keep the jacket from riding up and articulation built into not just the sleeves but the hood too! The hood is highly adjustable and can even roll up and stow away so that it doesn't flap all over the place on windy days. This means that even when you're strapped into a backpack or tucked under a harness, you'll still have full range of motion and a clear line of sight. We did find the material a bit stiff when brand new, but it breaks in quickly, becoming supple and flexible.

Strategic construction and stretchy material make for a wonderfully mobile softshell.
Strategic construction and stretchy material make for a wonderfully mobile softshell.

Weight


The Psiphon, at 10.6 ounces, is the second lightest piece in our review, bested only by the ultralight 8.3 ounce Rab Borealis.


This jacket is called the Psiphon FL. The FL is a fast and light designation from Arc'teryx. This is an apt name because it is indeed a very light layer with smart features that make every adjustment highly efficient. While the Borealis is a couple of ounces less, if you're looking for a lightweight layer that doesn't skimp on features, there is no better option in our review.

The less your shell weighs the higher you can climb! It's science!
The less your shell weighs the higher you can climb! It's science!

Features


This is the most feature-rich shell in our review, boasting a laundry list of design elements that are both cool and useful. The Psiphon FL is built for rock and alpine climbers, though the features will benefit folks out on a variety of missions.


Where to start? The shoulders and sleeve tops are reinforced to increase durability while the main material is stretchy and dries very quickly. The hood can be stowed away and is highly adjustable (though it doesn't have a brim), the drawcord hem can be adjusted with one hand, the cuffs are adjustable with velcro tabs, and the hemline has removable "Hemlock" inserts that keep the jacket in place under a harness.

The overall fit is trim and fitted, which helps aid in mobility and minimize bulk. Both the sleeves and hood have built-in articulation, and the underarms are gusseted, making this one of the most mobile pieces we tested.

Even the zipper is featured: every twelfth tooth has a bump on it to prevent the zipper from opening up when you don't want it to. And it still keeps it to be easy to unzip with one hand. The pockets are accessible when wearing a harness or pack and, while none of them double as a stuff sack, they are big enough to reverse the jacket into for space saving in a pack. For those of you out there that are crafty, you could sew a loop for a carabiner in the pocket, though we wish that was something Arc'teryx just provided outright.

From adjustable cuffs to accessible pockets to a special hemline that stays secure under a harness  the Psiphon is a well-featured jacket perfect for the outdoors.
From adjustable cuffs to accessible pockets to a special hemline that stays secure under a harness, the Psiphon is a well-featured jacket perfect for the outdoors.

Style


The Psiphon FL is decently stylish, though there are a few models we like a little bit better.


The fitted nature and slim cut of this shell make for a decently stylish piece, though it's still on the sporty-looking side of things. However, this is a jacket you buy for crushing in the outdoors, not for going out on the town, and we think it does what it's meant to do excellently.

Best Application


This savvy and well-conceived layer is perfect for rock climbing of all sorts, ski touring and ice climbing on warmer days (or for warmer blooded people), hiking, biking, scrambling, snowshoeing… there's really not much is isn't good for, at least in milder weather. It's not a layer for a lot of cold or wet, but it can easily be layered under warmer layers, making it an excellent purchase all around.

The Psiphon is at home in the outdoors  no matter what your favorite activity is. While it's best for milder weather  if you're working hard it'll do the job.
The Psiphon is at home in the outdoors, no matter what your favorite activity is. While it's best for milder weather, if you're working hard it'll do the job.

Value


The Psiphon FL Hoody retails for $239 — not cheap, but also not outrageous. For its features and quality, this jacket delivers. We definitely think it's worth the price tag.

Conclusion


In many ways this is hands down our favorite softshell, hence its top scores and our Editors' Choice designation. We let it share the limelight with our tried-and-true Gamma MX Hoody because the MX (mixed weather) performance makes it a better choice for inclement weather. But the Psiphon FL is a clear lightweight winner and welcome addition to our review. Highly breathable and mobile, excellently featured, and super lightweight, this is a layer for the serious athlete and outdoorswoman who wants a jacket they can put on and forget about. It lets you fully focus on the summit or objective at hand.

Finessing up cracks at the Creek or running along trails in the woods  this is a great layer to have at your disposal.
Finessing up cracks at the Creek or running along trails in the woods, this is a great layer to have at your disposal.


Penney Garrett