User Review: Arc'teryx Men's Atom LT Jacket
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Bought on Sale (Arc Outlet)
Superlight, super packable jacket perfect for mild weather and an excellent mid or stand alone jacket for the cool days.
- Super light
- Super packable
Over the past week I picked up an Arc'Teryx Atom LT while it was on sale. I've been eyeing one of these jackets for quite a while, and at the price presented I decided to pull the trigger and pick one up.
The Atom comes in four different versions: the Atom LT Jacket, LT Vest, LT Pullover, and LT Hoody. The names are pretty self-explanatory, and the "LT" designation stands for lightweight. I picked up an Atom LT jacket in "Nightshade", which is a dark grey/charcoal color.
Here's the jacket's description from the web:
Ideal for ambitious days when the mercury plummets, this warm mid-layer features composite materials that provide balanced warmth and breathability. The arms and torso are fortified with Coreloft™ insulation, and the side panels and underarms incorporate Polartec® Power Stretch® with Hardface® Technology to increase mobility and breathability. A wind and moisture resistant outer shell extends stand-alone usability.
Technical Features Moisture-resistant outer face fabric Breathable Insulated Lightweight Compressable and Packable Wind Resistant Breathable, stretch side panels for enhanced comfort and mobility
Construction DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent) helps bead water from fabric surface Composite Materials Breathable, stretch side panels for enhanced comfort and mobility Patterning Articulated Elbows Gusseted underarms
Collar Configuration Soft brushed-lined collar
The initial feelings on this jacket are appearant: It's light. It's as light as a T-shirt, if not less, in weight, but its warmth is amazing. The jacket itself is packed with 60 g/m² Coreloft™ insulation, lined in a Luminara stretchy nylon type. It's not quilted like a puffy down jacket, due to the Coreloft's ability to be packable and return to its shape - it doesn't shift around or "sink" or lump up like a traditional down (synthetics rule).
It's also very packable, and can be scrunched down to about the size of between a baseball or a softball, meaning that it makes a great travel companion in your pack or as a bit of snivel gear for camping, without sacrificing too much space (or really any weight). Tie in the DWR finish on the coat, and you've got a pretty great jacket that is perfectly suited to the role.
For static situations, it works rather well when it's chilly out, and if it's a cooler day and you're doing something active (I took it on hikes on some of the recent chilly evenings — 35-55 degrees) it is superb. It kept me warm, but not hot, and regulated my temperature well. The shell provides some good wind resistance, but on blustery days the stretch shell material used under the arms can get a bit cool - but it's also what helps regulate your temperature when you're moving.
I did find on cooler days (around 45-50 degrees) with minimal activity, a heavier long sleeve shirt or similar helped greatly, but being active and wearing this over a regular cotton T-shirt the warmth was ample. Arc'teryx's website states that it is intended as a mid-layer under a goretex shell, or as an outer layer on cool days, and it definitely fits into this category.
The best way to describe what it feels like is wearing a thin sleeping bag, but that description doesn't do justice to just how comfy this coat is. I have no way to explain just how comfortable the Atom is, it's like a military poncho liner cut into a jacket shape. It's soft, smooth, and light.
The outer shell material feels very thin, and I do have some concerns about durability, but from everything I've gathered about the jacket it is surprisingly more resilient than it seems. It is a light jacket, and advertised as such, so I wonder what level of abuse it can take. Only time and usage will tell for sure.
The cuffs on the jacket are nice and stretchy, non-adjustable. They sit well on the wrist and hold the sleeves down where they should be, and keep the chill out. Another thing, the sleeves are perfect for me on this jacket. Normally, I have issues finding sleeves that are a satisfactory length, to the point where I feel like I have ape arms with other jackets, but that wasn't the case here at all. I normally wear a medium size in most brands, and the Atom was no different, but fit much better. The hem of the coat is longer in the back, which helps stop drafts from creeping up your backside.
The jacket itself is an athletic style cut, ideal for layering, but doesn't make you look like a spandex clad superhero when worn on it's own. The jacket has a very attractive, simple appearance, which I like.
The jacket has three pockets — two handwarmer pockets lined in fleece on one side (outward) that are large and roomy, and a small inside pocket on the left side that is also quite large and readily fits your cell phone, smokes, etc. with ease. All the pockets are zipper closed and spacious. The handwarmer/outside pockets stealthily follow the side panels, adding to a sleek look for the jacket.
As for the water repellency, I don't think the Atom would stand up to a torrential downpour, but the crappy rain/mist/drizzle we get in the fall hasn't managed to penetrate it. The water beads up and falls away, as to be expected from a DWR finish. I'm sure as time wears on, the DWR coating will lose it's edge, but a can of DWR spray will cover any issues. General consensus from other user reviews is the DWR lasts about a year of good, regular usage on the Atom.
Since I picked this jacket up, my poor previous favorites, the various "gridded" fleeces, have been relegated to sitting in the closet. This jacket easily could replace a huge part of my cold weather gear, and much to my girlfriend's amusement, I've basically lived in this coat since I purchased it — it has become my new woobie, and rightfully so. The level of comfort, fit, and weight of this jacket are balanced perfectly, and I foresee this jacket accompanying me where ever I may go on the cooler days.
It's a great, three-season jacket that fits in with a layering philosophy to cold weather gear, and knocks fleeces out of the bracket for a good insulating midlayer with the features it has, and the benefits it provides. As a matter of fact, I can see this jacket easily replacing fleece jackets in most scenarios.
A personal note about my specific choice — the Nightshade Atom LT. While the outside is a sweet dark grey the inside is a bright red. It's not my favorite part about it, since I tend to like muted colors, but it's growing on me. It reminds me in a sense of the old aviator style jackets with the hi-vis orange lining — and thinking about it, this jacket could be used the same way, with the red lining being great for visual ID from a distance (not that I'll ever be in such a situation, but it's a neat feature). The zipper pulls on the coat are also a dayglo yellow color, which I may eventually replace with a more muted color.
One more note, this jacket is made in Bangladesh. With some having qualms about foreign made clothing articles, I only thought it fair to point that out. That being said, Arc'teryx has some very stringent QC, and with advances in modern manufacturing, quality between foreign and domestic items usually relies on QC alone, with companies making sure their products meet their requirements/specifications. Nowadays, it's more of a personal/ethical reason to dislike foreign-made products (and I totally respect that opinion), but that's really the only basis of the argument anymore.