Arc’teryx has been making top-quality outdoor gear since their market debut in 1989. Founded in British Columbia, Canada, roughly 30% of their products are still made locally, while their outsourced manufacturing is highly specialized, tightly controlled, and ethical. Though the Atom LT’s price tag can induce a moment of pause, the value here is undeniable and unmatched in its category.
The Atom LT Hoody is comfortable, durable, and allows for an endless range of motion by virtue of its clever design, which includes flexible side panels. This jacket is easily stowed in your gym bag or globe-trotting backpack, and has an excellent weight-to-warmth ratio.
The outer face stands up against rain and wind, without sacrificing breathability. For us, though, the most impressive feature of the Atom LT is its versatility. This is something you will want to wear in a wide array of outdoor activities and conditions.
|Atom LT Hoody|
A Few Things to Consider Before Buying a Lightweight, Insulated Shell Jacket
There’s almost no question that layering is the way to go when dressing for the outdoors. Layers give you the freedom to make micro-adjustments to your body temperature. That’s why having a lightweight, insulated shell is an essential piece of your kit.
That said, if you’re simply looking for an urban jacket and are on a budget, there are more affordable options out there, like the Patagonia Houdini (women’s; men’s). Likewise, for those seeking a specialized jacket designed for a specific activity or for a particularly harsh climate, the Atom LT Hoody isn’t it.
Of course, before buying a lightweight, insulated shell jacket, you should ask yourself a few pertinent questions:
How warm does it need to be?
While colder climates demand warmer garments, keep in mind that certain jackets can serve both as an outer shell and midlayer depending on the situation. The Atom LT Hoody is a piece that can be easily layered.
How important is weight and compressibility?
Are you fixated on the ultralight ethos? Is your backpack already too stuffed to sacrifice more space? If you’re going to be tramping around with your gear on your back, a lighter and more compact option is advantageous.
What kind of activities do you do?
For frosty activities like skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering, you’ll want to choose a midlayer that is both insulating and comfortable, that also fits easily between your baselayer and outer layer. In less extreme temperatures, you’ll likely want a jacket that retains heat when you’re not moving and is breathable during periods of exertion—think trail running or bouldering.
What about insulating materials?
It’s an age-old question among outdoorspeople. And yes, while down is still number one when it comes to warmth-to-weight ratio, synthetics have come a long, long way. Synthetic insulations may weigh more, but they dry faster when wet and maintain their loft better. There’s also the question of the ethical treatment of animals; however, many outdoors companies today follow socially conscious and rigorous protocols.
Versatile or Specific?
Are you looking for something specially designed for one activity, or do you plan on using your shell for a variety of activities in a diverse range of conditions? Specialized features are great for single-purpose use, but can cost more when compared to a more versatile, general-purpose shell.
Why Should You Consider the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody
One of the things we love about Arc’teryx is their naming scheme. Much like the Linnaean Classification system you may recall from high school biology, each garment model is named to reflect its taxonomy.
In the case of the Atom LT Hoody, its Product Family is Atom, which Arc’teryx describes as, “Versatile synthetic-insulated midlayers with a high degree of weather resistance.” The Product Modifier—you guessed it—is LT, described as, “High performance, minimalist design that is durable for its weight.” Find out more about the Arc’teryx naming scheme.
As you’ve likely gathered, the Atom LT Hoody meets all the criteria of a lightweight, versatile, and insulated shell. What really stands out about it, though, is its hybrid construction, which allows for maximum warmth, breathability, weather-resistance, packability, and a functional minimalist chic.
The Atom LT Hoody is insulated with Arc’teryx’s own Coreloft 60. Coreloft 60 is a hydrophobic, synthetic insulation with a density of 60g/m2. For context, that’s warmer than the Atom SL (Coreloft 40), but not as warm as the Atom SV (Coreloft 100). Because the insulation used in Coreloft is cut to varying sizes, it manages to maintain its loft surprisingly well.
The outer face of the jacket is made from their proprietary Tyono 20D polyester, which does a great job of keeping wear and tear at bay. The outer face is also treated with a water-resistant DWR-coating; in light showers, water droplets will simply bead off your jacket like rain on a windowpane.
For maximum heat retention, pull up the Atom LT’s Storm Hood, also filled with Coreloft 60. Because the hood is helmet-compatible, it does fit large; however, a drawstring on the back and an elastic liner around the face makes it easy to tighten and secure in place. The helmet compatibility is excellent for climbing, biking, and snow sports.
Reviewer Doug T. writes, “I was a little hesitant of buying this due to its price however I’m very glad I did get it. It’s unbelievably warm for the weight,” and, “It’s light enough to layer under a shell and warm enough to wear on its own in shoulder seasons. Super happy with the purchase.”
The two front-zippered pockets are lined with soft-to-the-touch nylon that’ll keep your hands toasty. Low-profile elastic cuffs not only trap precious heat, but prevent the sleeves from riding up.
Compared to classics in the lightweight jacket category, the Atom LT Hoody is impressively breathable. This is thanks to its hybrid design, which features weather-resistant front, back, and arms, as well as breathable side panels.
The side panels are made with Polartec Power Stretch, a four-way stretch fabric that is not only good for ventilation, but allows for unimpeded mobility. The fabric is treated with Hardface Technology, an abrasion-resistant surface coating that stands up to climbing falls and other friction faux-pas.
3. Weather Resistance
As an outer shell, the optimal temperature range for the Atom LT Hoody is between 5°C and -10°C (41F to 14F). In colder climates, we recommend delegating the Atom LT to midlayer and sporting a warmer outer, like the Arc’teryx Beta SV.
Within its recommended temperature range, the Atom LT Hoody excels in windy conditions, light rains, and drizzles. In more substantial downpours, water does eventually soak through but does manage to dry quickly, thanks to the hydrophobic Coreloft insulation and DWR-coated surface.
The Atom LT Hoody scores big points for packability and warmth-to-weight ratio. A men’s medium comes in at just 14.6 oz. (415 grams), and compresses nicely into its own sleeve to roughly the size of a 1L Nalgene bottle.
For climbing, we would’ve liked to see it compress into its own pocket, that way it could be clipped to a harness or on the outside of a backpack for easier access. Of course, you can still stuff it into its own pocket, but the absence of a two-way zip means you won’t be clipping it to a carabiner.
The Atom LT Hoody has a trim and athletic build, meaning it fits flush to the body and tapers somewhat from shoulder to hip. That said, the general consensus is that it fits true-to-size for any body type. For optimal mobility, it’s ideally used over a single baselayer.
Ample room around the waist allows space to tuck a climbing harness underneath. But, if you prefer a snug fit around the waist, a cinchable drawstring helps keep drafts out and heat in. A rear drop-tail provides added coverage, falling a couple inches below the garment’s all-round hip length. Reviewer Kalan W., writes: “Really great for camping, belaying, & layering under a shell in the rain.”
The large inside zipper pocket is spacious enough for your phone and wallet. We did notice that it appears to sit lower than your average chest pocket, but overall the effect is neither good nor bad.
In the spirit of the capsule wardrobe, the Atom LT Hoody fits the bill; this is a piece you can step out of the woods with and onto the terrace of a fine restaurant.
With the variety of colours available (7 for women; 9 for men), you’re sure to find something that really suits your personality. If you plan on wearing the Atom LT Hoody in more formal settings, opt for a neutral colour. Conversely, those who appreciate the vibrant side of life can choose from several dramatic shades (a nice accent to the Atom LT’s functional minimalist chic).
Final Words on Our Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody Review
The Arc’teryx ethos is alive and well in their Atom LT Hoody. This product has remained a favourite among outdoors folk since its first iteration. It’s ideal as a midlayer for skiers and snowboarders, ice and alpine climbers, but works equally well as an outer shell for hikers, campers, and backpackers. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also quite fashionable.
If you’re looking for a highly versatile, insulated, and lightweight shell, consider picking up your own Atom LT Hoody. If you’re looking for something lightweight, but with more weather-resistance, we recommend the Alpha SV for men or the Alpha SV for women.
For urbanites, ultralighters, and trail runners, the Beta SL Hybrid might be just up your alley.
Our review of the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid