Tough as a work jacket, breathable as a fleece. So…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: US$230 on sale
Tough as a work jacket, breathable as a fleece.
- Extremely breathable
- Nicely insulating
- Uninsulated hood
- No hand warmer pockets
So the hood is just ripstop nylon with no fleece backer, so you really need to wear a hat or hooded baselayer with it, and it's a bit crinkly and loud. That said, its adjustments are perfect, and it never inhibits peripheral vision. Also I find myself wishing it had hand warmer pockets, but both of these nits i'm picking are intentional on Arc'teryx's part, being as this jacket is the FL, Fast & Light version.
The construction is classic Arc'teryx, nothing wrong with anything here. The seams are cleverly single-stitched and then taped, for lightweight reinforcement. The face material is pretty amazing—it's more air-permeable than any other softshell I have ever seen, and it's probably almost impossible to overheat in this jacket.
The hand is very soft, softer than my other softshells, almost like the fabric of the Atom LT but with a grid-fleece laminate. The grid-fleece lining is quite lofty, but very light—the brilliance of grid-fleece is that it makes it lighter, more flexible/ softer, warmer (since the furrows hold more air), and even more air-permeable. It has a nice almost shiny appearance, and you can see the grid fleece impression through the face of the material.
YMMV, but I have never seen a single layer that can keep me comfortable in 30 degrees F or possibly lower with just a baselayer, in anything less than about 20-30mph wind, that doesn't then overheat when you go indoors to say 75 degrees. There was one day that the wind was really whipping, and it was in the mid-30s F, and I could feel the wind cutting through it, so I had to put a wind-shell over it.
Another cool advantage is that since it already has a modicum of wind-resistance, your shell doesn't need to have a membrane because you're getting additional line of defense from the Acto. Plus, if it gets really frigid, you can put a puffy or a fleece or a shell over it, and it doesn't hang up like regular fleece, and the fit is close for layering without feeling tight or restrictive.
And about the hood --
Incidentally the hood functions absolutely perfectly. The fleece laminate comes up high enough to cover your neck, and the line where the fleece lining stops and the hood begins just happens to fall at the line that's covered by a hat, to which it cinches perfectly and shrinks to the size of your hat/ helmet via Arc'teryx sorcery. So it moves perfectly with your head when you look around, and there's a nice soft micro fleece all around where it touches your face and even on the underside of the brim, so that when you take the hood off the soft underside of the brim is all that touches the back of your head.
The whole Acto seems obsessively over-engineered—one reason I love Arc'teryx. The slightly crinkly hood ripstop-nylon also seems more weather-resistant than the main body fabric. In still air or indoors you can open the hood up and it looks like a regular hoody, not a wet-suit, you know? And get this, with the hood up and fully open, it STILL magically moves aside when you look around, as the edge of the hood carefully avoids your peripheral vision... Thanks, Arc'teryx witches and wizards...
This has all but replaced my Epsilon LT as my everyday carry jacket this autumn, and I can't wait to test its limits in the Rocky Mountains this winter...