I Review: Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody

This jacket is 259.00 - like most Arc’teryx products, it is very expensive. This one I think is over priced. It’s a good jacket, but it’s really just a mid layer with synthetic insulation. I wear mine quite a bit, but it has been relegated to be the “get dirty jacket.” The one I take on multi-pitch climbs and through slot canyons because if it get’s ripped and I have to put an ugly patch on it, I won’t be that sad. Now, a testament to the quality of this product is that that has not happened yet. No patches necessary. So let’s get on to the pros and cons of this pricey little sucker.

I wore this jacket on our first ever backcountry ski tour!

I wore this jacket on our first ever backcountry ski tour!

I have had this jacket for for a little over 2 years and have worn it climbing, skiing, camping, and general outdoors foolery. I don’t reach for this jacket for around-town-times because it really looks like a piece of outdoor gear - technical not street-wear. It also fits me snug which makes it less comfortable and versatile since I can’t layer it over sweaters. For hopping around town or when traveling I always pack my Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody and not this jacket. I find the Nano Puff to be much more versatile, but not as durable and not quite as warm.

I bought this jacket in a small which was not a smart move- this was my first Arc’teryx purchase so I didn’t know that they designed for tiny humans. Well, tiny isn’t right because generally the length of Arc’teryx clothing is generous for average height people, but they design their clothes incredibly slim. I wear either a medium or small in most brands and should definitely have gone up to a medium in this one. I think if I had a medium, some of my issues with the jacket would be appeased.

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PROS:

  • Very durable- the minimal seams and well constructed hidden seams will stand up to abuse. I have worn this jacket climbing many times and it has shown zero wear and tear. Very impressive. HOWEVER, the reviews on the website are all over the place for quality- it makes me wonder if the fabric varies by color and some aren’t holding up as well. My black one is doing great.

  • Good loft in the insulation. Synthetic insulation is great for a couple reasons. You avoid the ethical qualms of down. It (should be) is less expensive than down (not really here though). And you can wear synthetic in wet conditions without fear of loosing all insulation. But not all synthetic insulation is equal. This insulation is better than my Patagonia Nano - it has stayed lofty over the years whereas my Patty has fallen a little flat.

  • Excellent design. Besides being made for humans who look like flat chested Barbies, the design behind Arcteryx products is excellent. Even being a size too small, I have good range of motion because the fabric is stretch and the cut of the jacket gives me some room to move - a medium I am sure would be great to move in.

  • Narrow wrist cuffs to keep out cold air.

  • A hood that actually keeps your head warm and you can tighten in the back.

  • Lightweight for the warmth.

Hiking the backcountry of Keystone in my fancy pants jacket.

Hiking the backcountry of Keystone in my fancy pants jacket.

CONS:

  • Order a size up, it runs small.

  • Price- I really don’t feel right about synthetic insulation being this expensive. The Patagonia jacket that is comparable is about the same price but Patty has sales all the time and it is super easy to find it discounted. It is hard to find Arcteryx on sale.

  • The zipper will come unzipped if you put a little tension on it.

  • You will need a warmer jacket if it is actually cold. This jacket is great if you are moving to create body heat or if it’s not too cold. But if you are dealing with sub-freezing temps it will not cut it without additional layers.

  • They market that this can function as an outer layer. I suppose that’s true in mild weather. But if it is raining or snowing or the wind is blowing, you are going to want a shell. This is really a sturdy mid-layer.

  • BABY POCKETS- this is my biggest peeve with this jacket. I can’t even fit my Iphone in the pockets. Granted it’s the plus Iphone (so bigger) but still. I can’t even fit my full hand in the pocket! This seems to be a running theme with Arcteryx given their ski bib design. It really drives me nuts. As someone with always cold hands and lots of snacks that need storage - this really makes me angry when I have a need for pockets and the nearly $300 jacket I’m wearing cannot fulfill that need.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t pay full price for this guy again. I would try to find him used or an equivalent that I would also pack as street wear for travel. If you try this on and think you look awesome in it and want to wear it all the time - it might be worth it because mine has held up really well. I think if I had ordered a medium I would like the fit enough to wear it not out in the wilderness. Que sera sera!

Let me know if you have any specific questions about this jacket in the comments :)