Friday, 8 January 2016

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody

The Gamma LT Hoody is Arc'teryx's no frills soft shell jacket, designed for year round use across a wide range of activities. Unless it's pouring down this jacket is one of the first out of the wardrobe as it provides a barrier against wind, snow and even the odd light shower. It's incredibly versatile and most importantly, fantastically comfortable. Looks pretty good too.
The Arc'teryx Gamma LT

Arc'teryx are well known for the quality of their products and this jacket is no exception. The Gamma LT is made from a very tough feeling fabric - Arc'teryx's own, called 'Burly'. The fabric uses a double weave to create a wicking layer on the inside and a weather-resistant one on the outside. It feels thicker and more durable than some similar fabrics from other brands and comes at a greater price but the pay-off is quality and longevity. This will still be performing when other jackets are past their best.

Let's look at this one in more detail:

Here's the extensive list of features directly from the Arc'teryx website (even after I have removed some of the more trivial ones):
  • DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent) helps repel water from fabric surface 
  • Mechanical stretch textile for unrestricted mobility
  • Articulated patterning for unrestricted mobility 
  • Gusseted underarms 
  • Stretch wrist gussets 
  • Helmet compatible StormHood 
  • Laminated brim 
  • Adjustable hood drawcords 
  • Full-length Vislon front zip with wind flap and chin guard
  • Laminated cuffs and hem
  • Adjustable hem drawcord
  • Internal chest pocket with laminated zip 
  • Two hand pockets with zippers 
You'll notice the word 'laminated' used a lot; this is one of Arc'teryx's party pieces. Lamination is the technique of manufacturing a material in multiple layers, usually permanently assembled by heat, pressure, welding, or adhesives. Lamination in clothing allows for seamless construction which reduces weight and bulk. So there you are.

Arc'teryx are renowned for excellent fitting items and this is no different. Perfect length, perfect fit around the chest and perfect length in the arms. Arc'teryx have a range of cuts depending on the items intended use; this one is the 'Athletic' fit meaning it is cut to reduce excess fabric but still real room for that all important mid-layer should you need it.

The Hood
Not much to say about the hood really. It's designed to fit over a helmet as most softshell jackets are these days but the drawcords allow a snug fit over a bare head. You'll most likely find yourself using the hood to keep the wind (rather than the rain) out and, to this end, it works well.
The hood on the Gamma LT
The jacket is fairly stripped back in terms of detail; a couple of handwarmer pockets complete the set, alongside the usual adjusters.
One of the simple handwarmer pockets
One feature you may or may not like are the cuffs, which have a stretchy panel around the wrist rather than a traditional Velcro adjuster. This works well if you aren't wearing gloves but can be a bit of a faff if you want to layer it over bulkier gloves. That said, you would be more likely to tuck the sleeves into larger gloves than the other way around so I can see the logic. Personally, I would have preferred the tried and tested Velcro adjuster.
The stretchy cuffs
In Action
This jacket is truly versatile and can be used year-round given the right weather. It layers nicely beneath a waterproof and can happily accommodate a warmer mid-layer during the winter whilst providing superb resistance to wind. There are plenty of softshells on the market that will o doubt do a similar job but I see this one as an investment - the extra thought in the fit and materials along with the timeless design will keep this at the front of the queue for a good few years yet.
A casual day on Graystones