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Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's Review

A feature-rich, aesthetically pleasing technical softshell with great mobility, breathability, and excellent weather resistance
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's
Credit: Arc'teryx
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $250 List | $249.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent mobility, great weather resistance, breathable, durable, harness-compatible hand pockets
Cons:  Thin, spendy, relatively heavy
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Mary Witlacil  ⋅  May 25, 2022
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84
SCORE

RANK
#1
of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9.0
  • Breathability - 30% 9.0
  • Mobility - 25% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 5.0
  • Versatility - 5% 10.0

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT is a fantastic technical softshell that strikes an ideal balance between weather resistance, mobility, and breathability. This jacket features a helmet-compatible hood, durable fabric coated with DWR for added water resistance, and four-way stretch "Wee Burley" fabric that facilitates unimpeded movement. All these features make this a fantastic jacket for alpine climbing, mountaineering, peak bagging, windy hikes, or warmer backcountry ski days. While this jacket is on the pricier side, we think it's a fantastic and durable option for folks seeking an ideal softshell for alpine adventure days and beyond.

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Price $250 List
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Bottom Line A feature-rich, aesthetically pleasing technical softshell with great mobility, breathability, and excellent weather resistanceThis lightweight and breathable jacket has an arsenal of premium features for an affordable priceThis comfortable jacket will keep you protected and stylish, from climbing with friends to hanging at the coffee shopThis wicked light softshell has great mobility, is highly breathable and well-tailored - a perfect layer for fair-weather climbing or hiking
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Outdoor Research Fe... Black Diamond Alpin... Rab Borealis
Weather Protection (30%)
9.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
Breathability (30%)
9.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
Mobility (25%)
8.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (10%)
5.0
7.0
10.0
9.0
Versatility (5%)
10.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Outdoor Research Fe... Black Diamond Alpin... Rab Borealis
Measured Weight 14.5 oz (size S) 12.5 oz (size S) 6.5 oz (size S) 9 oz (size S)
Material Wee Burly Double Weave (56% nylon, 34% polyester, 10% elastane), DWR finish Body/hood: 86% nylon 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop
Shoulders/forearms: dordura 91% nylon, 9% spandex 120D stretch woven
Schoeller w/Eco-Repel Bio (93% nylon, 7% elastane) Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR
Type Active Active Active Active
Lined/Insulated? No No No No
Hood? Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, stretchy but not adjustable
Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted) 2 hand 3 (2 hand, 1 chest) 1 chest 2 hand
Adjustable Cuffs? No, stretch cuffs No, stretch cuffs No, stretch cuffs No, stretch cuffs
Available Sizes 2XS - 2XL XS - 2XL XS - XL XS - XL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Gamma LT continues to reign over other jackets in our review, striking a balance between an active and technical softshell. This layer proves you can have a reasonably lightweight and weather-resistant softshell for technical pursuits that is also breathable with great mobility for more active/aerobic pursuits in warmer weather. Thie Gamma LT is lighter weight but less warm than other technical softshells; while being warmer, burlier, more weather-resistant, and slightly heavier than other active softshells. It's the Goldilocks of softshells. The rugged fabric features a DWR coating for water resistance and a four-way stretch for unimpeded movement. The hood is helmet-compatible, and the hem doesn't ride up while climbing, making it an ideal companion on alpine climbs or windy hikes in the mountains. It is also weather-resistant enough for warm weather ski touring, ice climbing, or snowshoeing.

Performance Comparison


Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's softshell jacket - with premium features like a spacious helmet-compatible hood as well...
With premium features like a spacious helmet-compatible hood as well as a form flattering fit, the Gamma LT proves you can have form and function.
Credit: Jared Ross

Weather Protection


The Gamma LT is the lightest jacket in the Gamma series from Arc'teryx. We love it for being a stretchy, albeit somewhat thin, softshell that provides excellent wind resistance and decent water resistance.


This jacket is unlined, so it is less warm than the heavier-weight Gamma MX, but when paired with a light fleece, it is a perfect layer for cooler weather climbing. In our shower test, the Gamma LT did wet out somewhat quickly around the shoulders, but the patented Wee Burly fabric resisted total failure, unlike other models in our review. If you're looking for something more waterproof, we recommend looking for a hardshell instead. That said, this jacket handled water surprisingly well for being a lightweight softshell. Out in the real world, when we would wear this jacket in a light rain or snow, it kept us warm and dry. Beyond warmth and water resistance, it is a fantastic wind layer, taking the edge off cold mountain winds.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's softshell jacket - for an active softshell, the gamma lt provides superior weather...
For an active softshell, the Gamma LT provides superior weather resistance, making it a great option for variable weather days when you don't expect to get stuck in a downpour.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Breathability


This is one of the metrics where the Gamma LT truly shines. Instead of pit zips, Arc'teryx designed this jacket with large mesh-lined, harness-compatible pockets. The mesh ventilation extends above the usable portion of the pocket, all the way up to the collar, to give it extra breathability.



Beyond pocket ventilation, this softshell is unlined, which gives it more breathability than other technical softshells in our review. The Wee Burly fabric achieves an ideal balance between weather resistance and breathability — providing protection from wind, resistance from moisture, and still allowing for ventilation when you're on the move. That said, some of the lighter-weight, active softshells in our review offer greater breathability, but they also offer less weather protection. If you intend to use this jacket during early morning hikes to approach alpine climbs, it should keep you warm enough while minimizing the clammy feel of a less breathable layer. We love this jacket for warm weather ski touring, climbing in the shade, and all manner of alpine pursuits — from climbing and peak bagging to early morning trail runs and warm weather snowshoeing — because it keeps you protected but not stifled.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's softshell jacket - while it is a little heavier than our favorite trail running...
While it is a little heavier than our favorite trail running jackets, the Gamma LT provides excellent breathability and warmth for cool weather trail runs.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Mobility


Mobility is another category where the Gamma LT truly shines. For climbing, few jackets move as well as this one. The hem doesn't ride up while climbing, and the stretchy fabric facilitates unencumbered movement.


One mark of an excellent softshell is forgetting you're wearing the jacket in the first place. The Gamma LT definitely meets and surpasses this criterion. Whether climbing, hiking, or ski touring, it feels like a second skin for how well it moves. Beyond stretchy fabric, the Gamma LT has several features that enable greater mobility than other jackets in its class. The cuffs have a small panel of stretchier — but burly — fabric that keeps the cuffs in place without velcro wrist straps, and the underarms are gusseted, so you can reach above you without the sleeves sliding down. The spacious helmet-compatible hood has two-way adjustable cinches so that you can dial in the fit, with or without a helmet.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's softshell jacket - with four-way stretch and strategic gussets, the gamma lt never...
With four-way stretch and strategic gussets, the Gamma LT never impeded our movement.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Weight


Weighing in at 14.5 ounces for a size small, the Gamma LT is one of the heaviest active softshells in our review. When compared to all the jackets we tested — including casual and technical softshells — it scored in the middle of the pack.


While the Gamma LT is not winning any ultralight awards, this may not be a critical criterion for you. We appreciate this jacket for the features it affords for alpine rock climbing, ski touring, and mountaineering because it is breathable, mobile, and offers above-average weather resistance. If this sounds like you, you're unlikely to notice the heft of this jacket while stowed in your pack. If you're looking for an ultralight emergency layer, or if you want a lighter-weight jacket to stow in your pack (or on your harness), other options could better suit your needs. But for the functionality this jacket provides as an alpine climbing layer, we were unbothered by the weight.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's softshell jacket - this jacket may be one of the heavier active softshells in our...
This jacket may be one of the heavier active softshells in our review, but it never kept us down.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Versatility


To evaluate a softshell for versatility, we consider style, features, stow-ability, and the ideal uses for a particular model. In a field of stiff competition, we consider the Gamma LT to be a highly versatile jacket, which is why it earned high marks in this category.


Given the color options and the tailored cut, the Gamma LT could be at home on the mountain or in the brewery after a big day out. The two-way cinch on the helmet-compatible hood is a top-notch feature that we appreciate in any jacket suitable for the backcountry. The pockets are harness compatible and mesh-lined, meaning you can open them up for ventilation or to access your stowables without the hassle of reaching beneath your harness or the waist belt of your pack. This means you can also use the pockets to warm your hands without unbuckling the hip belt on your backpack. The cuffs feature a trim cut with a stretchy fabric panel, so you can't pull them over gloves, but they are compatible with gauntlet-style gloves. The collar is among the most comfortable of the jackets we tested, with a spacious neck gasket that never pokes you in the chin. We also love the so-called "No Slip Zip," not because there are other jackets in our review with zipper-slippage issues, but because the zipper is a bit burlier than others we have reviewed. All these features point to a jacket that is ideal for climbing long routes in variable weather conditions, though we would recommend an ultralight rain jacket if you expect monsoon-level storms. This jacket would also be great for ski touring or snowshoeing on warmer days or as an outer layer for bike commuting in the shoulder season. All-in-all a very versatile jacket.

The spacious and plush collar on the Gamma LT is among the most...
The spacious and plush collar on the Gamma LT is among the most comfortable of those in our review.
Not just for stashing snacks, the mesh ventilation in these pockets...
Not just for stashing snacks, the mesh ventilation in these pockets runs all the way up to the collar for extra breathability.

Value


We think this jacket is a good value for how well-designed, feature-rich, breathable, and mobile it is — all of which make it easy to recommend. While you can find less expensive jackets on the market — and in this review — the design of the Gamma LT and the fabric's durability will keep you satisfied for years to come. It handles like a champ on alpine climbs and summit missions, and it is also great for cooler-weather multi-pitches or on warmer ice climbing days. That said, if you're primarily going to be in severe weather, this layer alone won't be enough — you will want a hardshell to protect from the rain and/or an insulating layer to protect from the cold. If you're looking for a durable jacket for windy alpine adventures — be it climbing, warm ski touring, or peak bagging — we think this jacket strikes an ideal balance between mobility, weather resistance, and breathability. A balance that is well worth the steep price tag.

Conclusion


Striking the right balance between breathability, weather resistance, and ease of movement should be the goal of any softshell. The Arc'teryx Gamma LT does this without compromising on style — proving that you really can have form and function. The fabric is burly enough to withstand the abuse of alpine granite and features a DWR coating for water resistance. It offers excellent wind resistance while providing the breathability you need to keep moving. While it isn't as warm or water-resistant as other softshells in our review, you can always bring a rain jacket or an insulating layer to deal with colder temps or a rainstorm. For all these reasons, we awarded this jacket top marks for performing well across nearly all the metrics in our review.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody - Women's softshell jacket - as a breathable but weather resistant and highly mobile softshell...
As a breathable but weather resistant and highly mobile softshell, the Gamma LT strikes a balance between an active and technical softshell.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Mary Witlacil

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