Arc'teryx Epsilon LT Hoody
A very well made piece that never seems ideal for any one task. A good lightweight top layer for cold weather alpine and rock climbing.
- Water resistant
- Jack of some trades master of none
- Doesn't layer well
For a long while I had dreamed of owning an Acto MX, Arc'teryx truly wonderful hard fleece layering jacket. Sadly they discontinued this jacket and replaced it with the Epsilon LT.
The idea I had in mind for this jacket was to be used as a weather resistant mid layer. I run very hot, so I like to have a layer piece that can sit under a shell if things get really bad, but until that point operates just fine as its own outer layer against wind and snow.
Nearly six months after purchasing it I still haven't made up my mind if I like it or not. It's definitely not what I had in mind. While very durable and water resistant, the fabric is stiffer then I would like, and sits awkwardly inside my Rab Neo Guide or Procline. My Gamma MX I bought soon after is softer. The men's Small cut is similar to the Gamma LT, nice and slim the way I like it, though a fleece layer like the Fortrez fits perfectly underneath. I like the cuffs.
As for breathability I've worn it in the alpine climbing, ski touring, cross-country skiing, and ice climbing trips. Anything more than -5° and it's too hot after an hour, but I run very hot, and move at a fast pace. Compared to my Gamma MX it's a little more breathable, but not a lot. I find the MX's insulation gives it a much broader comfort range. It's also not stellar for wind blocking.
The hood is odd, forgoing the normal forehead toggle, for a hood shorting piece. It means the hood is too big, or too small, never just right. The pockets are excellent and offer good ventilation, though if left open they ruin the nice cut of the jacket and make it look odd. Not a functional issue, just style. The cuffs are superb.
Overall this jacket is too similar to my Gamma MX. But it is a terrific and well made lightweight top layer. if durability is a priority it's awesome. In hindsight I think the Gamma LT would have been a been a better buy for my needs, though I wish I could get an Acto MX.
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
My favorite jacket. Ever.
- Very refined
So I can see why people have a difficult time figuring out what this jacket excels at. I have two, an XL that I have worn pretty much every day (except in the summer) for the past five years. I use it primarily as a one-tool option softshell/ hardfleece. This year I got a size Large to use for layering and couldn't be happier.
So it's not as soft or insulated as the Gamma MX and not as stretchy as the Gamma LT. It's also a little more than half the price of the Gamma MX. It does however make a fantastic mid-layer and I find works the best with other Arc'teryx jackets. I like the Acto FL over my base-layer, then the Epsilon LT Hoody, then the Gamma MX over the top.
Three softshells sounds odd at first, but this combination keeps me cool and comfortable down to about 0 degrees F, sufficiently blocking wind and light precip, but the great thing is that this system also keeps me from overheating or building up moisture if I need to go indoors for some reason, or if there's a drastic temp increase.
By itself, the XL over a baselayer works for days that start out in say the 20s and get into the 60s, with its surprising breathability and subtle insulation. It's also damn near indestructible—tough like a work jacket, it still looks brand new after years of daily wear (at least after I wash it ;-)).
It stops wind well enough—better than the Acto FL, which the wind cuts through more easily. Wind resistance is similar to the Gamma LT. It also works well with other brands. You just have to try them out first to make sure they play nice together.
There is one thing that could be better imho, and that is the hood adjustment. It keeps the hood out of my eyes, but I would much prefer a halo-type adjustment like that found on the Gamma series. In summation, for around usd $200, there's not really any other jacket I can think of that performs this well.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: ~usd $200
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