Thursday, 16 May 2013

Kit review - Arcteryx Atom LT Jacket

Review time! This week it's the Arcteryx Atom LT Jacket, this is a lightweight insulated jacket manufactured in Canada by Arcteryx.

RRP - £160
Weight - 336g

Arcteryx description - "Insulated, mid-layer jacket with wind and moisture resistant outer face fabric; Ideal as a layering piece for cold weather activities."

Initial thoughts 

This is a seriously light jacket, I was shocked at how light the box was when it arrived and on pulling it out you can see why it's light - it's a very thin jacket compared to some of the down insulated jackets available. I wondered how warm something that light could keep you so braving the weather I chucked the jacket on with only a t-shirt underneath and it definitely kept me warm, the weather was hovering around 2°C with wind chill involved the weather was probably 0°C, as the description said this jacket is designed as a mid-layer so I was waiting for some serious cold weather before I could actually test the jacket! 

As with all Arcteryx products you can immediately tell this is a well made piece of kit, the fit is perfect for walking and climbing, it doesn't ride up and get stuck above trousers so no chilly belly button. The elastic cuffs keep the jacket nice and tight to the wrist so wind can't get up there and also just helps with the general comfyness level. 

Field Testing

As I mentioned before I'd managed to get this jacket out in weather around the 0°C but I was sure this jacket could handle scarier weather than that! 

Luckily a climbing trip was scheduled and with the weather looking cold and dry I grabbed the Atom LT for some serious testing! Up on Dartmoor with the thermometer reading -3°C and with some harsh winds blowing through the Tors this jacket was tested and I may have got a bit chilly! In all fairness I was wearing a t-shirt and baselayer under the jacket with no hard shell so not exactly what this jacket was designed for but I did have higher hopes for it as a stand alone jacket. 

I've been out in this jacket and caught in showers a few times and the rain beads up and falls off very well, some of the heavier showers have caused a bit of dampness but I've still been warm. This is where synthetic insulation jackets are superior to down, the quick dry time and other benefits of synthetic keep you warm through the rains where a down jacket would turn into a soggy pillow. 

I've now owned the Atom LT for around 8 months - it's currently got 1 strip of tape on it over a small tear and a few tufts where the material has taken a hit - It's been a pretty solid jacket, reliable in the cold weather we receive in England, for the price I struggle to think of a similar jacket in terms of the quality of workmanship and fit. The DWR coating is still very good and water continues to bead on the jacket, I'm interested to see how long this lasts and whether the jacket this has some usefulness when water can easily access the insulation. 

Positive points! 

Lightweight jacket

Stuffs down very small
Great fit
Elasticated wrists 
Very well made

Not-so-positive points!

Outer fabric strength


This is a solid insulated jacket for when the weather is around 0°C anything colder than this and I'd want something a bit more solid. A really well put together jacket, one of the things that upset me was the tear in the fabric - this may have been me going through brambles and branches a bit too aggressively but I can't remember where it took place - I like to be able to rely on equipment and this took some of my confidence in the jacket away. For the weight of the jacket the outer fabric is never going to be bullet proof and as it's designed to be a midlayer I can't really put too much of the blame on the jacket. A really comfy and cosy jacket which fits well and should last a long time.

When it comes down to it this jacket is a beauty and I'd happily recommend it to a friend.

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