I once had a friend who was obsessed with the brand Arc’teryx. I was a young, impressionable, and mildly terrified eighth grader on my first backpacking trip in the North Cascades. The way that this guy talked about Arc’teryx made me think that their gear had magical—almost holy—properties. As a teenager who already knew what was cool, I was skeptical. Now that I am many years older and wiser, I realize that my friend might have been onto something: Arc’treyx is a great brand that might be a little magical.
The Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody is a fantastically made, simply designed, lightweight, versatile insulating layer. However, before I go on, it must be stated that Arc’teryx is essentially the Porsche of the outdoor gear world. Although this brand is known for its is well made, meticulously designed and pretty darn good looking gear, it is also known for its fairly exorbitant price, which is definitely a downside for most people.
Nonetheless, if you’re willing to drop a little extra money on a lightweight puffy layer, then this a great jacket to buy. Insulated with 60g of Coreloft (a special kind of synthetic insulating fluff that is exclusively made for Arc’teryx products), it is equivalent to the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket in warmth and weight.
However, the major difference between these two well-known and popular layers is that the Arc’teryx Atom LT has fleece side panels that are designed to increase breathability. These make the jacket slightly less warm than its competitors, but the side panels allow one to keep it on during a chilly morning excursion without becoming a sopping, sweaty mess by the end.
At only 13 ounces, the Atom LT is an extremely compressible and light jacket. Its minimalist design helps keep its weight low. It has a hood that fits well with or without a helmet, which is a desirable trait for climbers.
The two external pockets are a little too low down on the jacket to be useful while wearing a harness; however, there is a third internal chest pocket to stow odds and ends.
One of the features that stands out on this jacket are the wrist cuffs. They are soft, almost silky, and they fit comfortably around your wrist so you can pull on a glove or mitten without worrying about the sleeves getting bunched.
As described on Arc’teryx’s website, the Atom LT is a “lightweight, breathable, insulated hoody; ideal as a stand-alone piece in fair weather, or as a layering piece in cold conditions.”
I have used this versatile piece for almost every kind of condition imaginable, from under my rainshell while ice climbing to walking across the quad to class on a chilly autumn day. Despite paying more than my college budget truly allowed, I know that I will continue to use this jacket year-round for many years to come.