Many people turn to a single jacket when winter weather rolls in. They have a go-to parka that keeps them warm and dry. If your winter activities are limited to commuting to work and running errands, then one such warm coat probably is all you need from November through February. But if you are as active in the winter as you are in the summer, then you know that aerobic activity can often keep you warmer than any amount of down filler can. As such, you need a coat that is breathable, water-resistant and allows for an active lifestyle.
That’s why I was excited to test out the Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody. Arc’teryx is known for making outdoor gear with sleek lines and durable construction. The Gamma MVX Hoody is made for alpine conditions, and, as such, provides flexibility and warmth while remaining breathable. I brought the Gamma MX Hoody to Newfoundland, Canada for some adventure activities to see if it lived up to the Arc’teryx reputation.First, the nitty gritty. The Arc’teryx MX Hoody has the stretch necessary to allow for a full range of motion. With two chest pockets, two hand pockets and one sleeve pocket, there is ample storage space. It does, however, lack an interior pocket. It is well-sealed, water-resistant and immaculately constructed. You get the impression that you could fall off of a mountain, hit every rock on the way down and the jacket would be in perfect condition (even if your body wasn’t).
The fleece lining in the Gamma MX Hoody provides ample warmth provided it is supplemented with aerobic activity to generate additional heat in your core. It is not meant to replace a solid winter coat for when you’re walking the dog or waiting in line for a movie in sub-freezing temperatures. But, if you’re snowshoeing, mountain climbing or hiking, you’ll be more than comfortable in the jacket.
The warmth and resistance to the elements come from the Polartec Power Shield softshell fabric that makes the jacket both durable and breathable. It also allows for that full-range of motion that an outdoor athlete needs.
Like almost all other Arc’teryx gear, the Gamma MX Hoody features a very slim cut. I wear a medium in virtually every other coat that I’ve worn (ranging in manufacturers from Cloudveil to Patagonia to Mountain Hardwear). Arc’teryx gear is taut and constrictive on me in anything less than a large. However, in the proper size – in this case, a large – the Gamma MX Hoody fit snugly while still allowing for several base layers to be worn comfortably.
The snug fit did pose a problem in the cuffs. Many winter coats provide Velcro straps on the cuffs to allow for adjustment in the tightness around gloves. The Gamma MX Hoody lacks these tabs. As such, the cuffs on the Gamma MX Hoody are tight, which makes taking the jacket on and off more challenging than it should be. Adjustable straps would solve this problem simply.
As you can imagine from the name, the Gamma MX Hoody comes with an attached hood. It does not retract into a pocket, so, regardless of the conditions, the hood will be hanging off of your collar. Since I much prefer a coat that allows for rolling the hood into a zipped pocket in the collar, it took some getting used to when I would find my hood uncomfortably wedged beneath my backpack. The hood is made to fit over a helmet, which is necessary considering that the jacket is intended for alpine use. However, despite being able to tighten the hood, I still found it comically large when I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Despite attempts to tighten it fully, the hood often billowed over my head and would fall off as I walked. This would expose my neck and face to snow and rain.
As always, I like to boil things down to the basics:
- Outstanding construction and incredible durability
- Flexibility allows for full range of motion
- Plenty of pockets
- Water-resistant and well-sealed
- Fleece lining provides warmth to supplement aerobic heat
- Slim cut may create a tighter fit than expected
- Tight cuffs with no adjustable straps
- Hood is large and does not retract into the collar
Overall, this is a fantastic coat if you maintain an active lifestyle in cold weather. While it is not a replacement for a heavy parka, it is an excellent addition to the gear collection of any winter adventurer. The jacket provides ample warmth once you start your activities and is built to last. However, I strongly recommend that you try it on in person, as Arc’teryx products are cut much slimmer than other outdoor gear brands.
You can purchase the Gamma MX Hoody directly from the Arc’tery website for $379.00. The durability of the coat will surely ensure that it pays for itself over years of aggressive use.