I covet Arc’teryx gear, but I wasn't in love with the Atom LT Hoody the first time I wore it a few months ago.
It was a frigid December morning in Virginia. The high-30s thermometer reading felt below freezing in the 17 mph winds.
This might be a good time to admit that I hate being cold. I don’t mind winter as long as I have the right combination of snivel gear.
Anyway, I was not happy each time the biting wind gusts passed right through the new jacket’s thin, stretchy side panels. I quickly regretted choosing a polo shirt as a base layer.
It was time for a restart. I reached into my truck and pulled out a lightweight mid-layer to slip on underneath. I zipped up, pulled the Atom LT’s insulated hood into position and fell in love.
Oh, sweet warmth.
The Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody, part of the tactical LEAF line, is really designed to be worn beneath body armor in cold temps. It has wide, highly-breathable, Polartec Power Stretch side panels that prevent overheating and cut down on the bulk.
The panels are very efficient at keeping you from overheating, whether you are humping a pack or shoveling snow. The rest of the jacket is made of super lightweight, Coreloft insulation – not real puffy, but very warm for a hooded jacket that weighs just under a pound. The outer material is made of an ultra-thin, Gossamera fabric blocks a lot of wind and is very soft against the skin.
To me, the jacket’s adjustable hood is what separates the Atom Hoody from similar, cold-weather layers. I usually lean toward a hat, but this hood so much more effective. It’s extremely low-bulk, so you forget it’s there when not in use. You really feel its worth when the sun has gone down and the wind-chill dips below zero. It surrounds your ears, neck and the sides of your face in wispy, light-weight warmth far better than a hat and neck gaiter can ever do.
I’m not going to surprise anyone by saying that Arc’teryx makes a great jacket. As usual, the fit and finish on the Atom LT Hoody is excellent. It’s comfortable and it’s extremely durable.
But just because it’s an Arc’teryx doesn't mean it’s the right jacket for everyone. If you are looking for one jacket to wear during all types of cold-weather activity, then I’m not sure it will work for you. The Atom LT Hoody works well when you’re burning calories on a hike, but it may betray you if it’s your only piece of snivel when standing around on a frigid range all day.
This is where the Atom LT Hoody really shines. It works extremely well as an insulating layer beneath a GoreTex shell in cold, wet conditions.
It's an effective outer layer when worn over a light base layer and a medium-weight pull-over. It also compresses down nicely for carrying it in a pack.
I recommend trying on this jacket if you can to get the fit for how you plan to use it. I’m 5’9” and weigh 183 pounds, so a large gives me a little extra room for layering. But I might have chosen a medium if I planned to wear this under body armor or beneath an outer layer most of the time. Having a little extra room also makes this jacket an excellent choice to wear when you are carrying concealed.
The Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody is priced at $239, which is reasonable for the versatility and solid performance you'll get in cold, wet conditions. It also comes Crocodile, Wolf gray and Black.