Gear Review: Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoodie
The Atom LT Hoodie is Arc’teryx’s top-rated synthetic jacket. This piece is built for those of us seeking a lightweight jacket option that comes with no doubts about performance in weather variations.
Weight: 13.4oz (Size medium)
Materials: Synthetic Coreloft insulation, 20-denier nylon DWR shell
Stuff Size: Fits into its own pocket
With Coreloft insulation and a DWR wind-resistant nylon face fabric, this jacket is ready for cold, damp nights in the Smokies or the chill of Washington in September. The Atom LT is a jacket that retains heat when needed and dumps it when its not. This gives the Atom a wide temperature comfort range. There are also two siblings to the Atom LT, including the Atom AR (All Around) and Atom SL (Superlight), which gives you options for any trek. The soft nylon material and stretch fleece panels will make you feel like you’re walking around wearing your favorite childhood sleeping bag.
I used the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoodie on the PCT in 2017 (Campo to the Halfway Point,1,330 miles) and in 2018 (Campo to Canada, 2,650 Miles). The PCT goes through a wide range of weather variation from the Mojave desert to the Sierras to the Cascades. I’ve worn it through snow, high winds, rain, and subteen temperatures.
Stretch-Knit Cuffs: Elastic low-profile cuffs that lay flat and close to the skin keep out the draft and give the comfort of a long sleeve t-shirt.
Internal Zip Pocket: A pocket on the inside of the left chest of the jacket is a convenient place to keep maps safe or store your phone and Sawyer water filter on those subfreezing morning hikes out of camp.
Fleece-lined Zipper Pockets: Warm, cozy pockets that wick moisture from hands and zip up to keep items from falling out. The zippers also help increase wind resistance. Placement of the pockets is high enough to access while wearing a hipbelt.
Adjustable Hood: A close-to-head hood and elastic cinch cord create a tight fit, so when you move the hood moves with you. No face full of hood when you look around to investigate the mouse noises in the shelter during dinner.
Fleece Stretch Side Panels: Increases mobility, comfort, and moisture management of garment.
One-Hand Zipper: The front zipper is non-locking so that it can be used one handed.
The Atom is a trim fit (or alpine) fit, making it slimmer in the chest and waist for layering under hard-shells. This style falls just below the waistband, a good length to stay under a hipbelt and not too long that it sticks out under a rain jacket. Thanks to the stretch cuffs, fleece panels, and soft face fabric I never regretted going without a town shirt as throwing this jacket on while the clothes are in the wash was never a problem. It regulates temperature well and the comfort range of this jacket is vast, spanning from the snowy summits of Mount Whitney to cool nights in Oregon.
This is a synthetic jacket that weighs less than a pound. It has great moisture management, wind protection, heat regulation, and water resistance. It is an extremely comfortable jacket that moves as you do and is strong enough to be worn under a pack without worry. Its very easy to wash and to care for so you don’t have to stress about getting wet or dirty. After 4,000 miles, mine now smells like lavender meadows and is still bright green (the original color).
As with most lightweight gear, it can rip. The material feels fragile but on trail, I only got one hole and I only saw one other hiker with a patch on the jacket. The material is very easy to repair with gear tape. While the heat range is very wide, when active, (climbing a hill) the jacket usually comes off at about 40-45 degrees. It’s also not the lightest or most compact jacket on the market compared to down-insulated models.
The Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoodie is a fully synthetic jacket that weighs 13 ounces for $260. It keeps you warm in a variety of environments, looks good on paper, and feels even better against your skin. Compared to the Ghost Whisperer at $350, which uses the most gear tape on trail, the price of the Atom for the extra weight and protection is enough for me. This jacket fits well and is a sleek, simple design that is both functional and reliable. This is a jacket that I don’t mind wearing my backpack with or sleeping in. While you could wear a cheaper jacket on trail, every ounce counts and backpacking is already challenging…. let’s not make a hard thing harder by being cold and miserable. The Atom LT is a great investment has already made it from Mexico to Canada 1.5 times and looks fresh enough for a few more.
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