Arcteryx Atom LT Vest and Jacket Review

As I’ve said before, I’m going to expand my gear coverage a bit to cover my favorite pieces of gear…like my Asolo boots.  Today, I’m going to talk a bit about Arc’teryx.

Years ago, I was first exposed to North Face gear, and thought that it was the most amazing stuff in the world.  I was blown away by the quality, and I fell in love with stores like REI.  Hey…we don’t have a ‘local’ gear shop of that nature in my neck of the woods.

A couple years back, I was looking for a new raincoat/shell to replace a North Face jacket that had met its Waterloo.  In the course of my search, I started looking at Arcteryx.  I ended up settling on an Alpha SV jacket, which I’ll talk about someday.  It is bombproof.  The best jacket ever.

But today, let’s talk about the Atom.  I have had the opportunity to spend some time with the Atom LT Vest and LT Hooded Jacket.  Both share Coreloft insulation in the front and back and Polartec Power Stretch exterior for a bit of water resistance and good durability.  They have a drop back hem, for a little extra butt coverage.  The vest has fleece side panels (for ventilation).  (The newest version of the jacket also has this feature).

I’m a little over 6′ tall and around 145#.  Arcteryx gear is cut athletically, and true to their measurements.  Even with my long arms, I have no issues with sleeve length on their smaller sizes.  I wear a medium in all of their tops/jackets.

Here’s the vest:

Breathable side panel.

Trim design.

Here’s the hooded jacket:

Not vented; no pit zips.

Stretchy cuff detail on jacket.

Full coverage hood almost covers my German schnoz.

One interior pocket.

Two exterior pockets, nicely placed. Note that unlike many Arcteryx jackets that have high pockets to clear backpack waist straps, these are set at hip level.

While it doesn’t look roomy, the hood is plenty roomy for a massive ski-helmet to cover your noggin.

This is both jackets, layered. They’re low enough profile that the vest doesn’t really show.

We haven’t had super-cold weather here in Illinois yet, so my reviews are a bit limited in that regard at present…this is my first year with the Atom.  I’ve worn the jacket, over short-sleeves, in temps down to the low 30s in comfort.  For as thin as the jacket is, it is AMAZINGLY warm for normal activities.  I’m not talking about sitting around…but if you’re moving, it is warm.  It traps all of your warmth.

The jackets are rated to be water resistant, not waterproof…but I’ve had the hooded jacket in downpours and it beads up admirably.  I haven’t washed it, so we’ll see how it holds up long term, but short-term, rain clouds don’t scare me off.

The fabric finish is soft and comfortable, but has been durable thus far.  It does not catch or snag easily.

The vest is very unobtrusive, and fits under just about any jacket.  By itself, it’s a nice layer for when you need to keep just a little extra torso warmth…when you’re doing outdoor activities in the low 50s or upper 40s and need a smudge of Coreloft.

I can’t say enough good things about the Coreloft…I don’t have a ton of previous experience with it, but it performs amazingly.  Very thin, non-bunching, non-stinky, and super-warm.

You can see that they don’t have huge gusseted features, but it is amazing how comfortable they are and how easily you can move in them.  There is no restriction in arm or torso movement.  The zippers are high-quality, and both have a stormflap behind the zipper to keep you warm and dry.

For me, I’ve basically abandoned the traditional ‘three season’ combination ski coats with zip-in liners, and replaced them with a high-quality liner jacket and high quality shell.  I’ll be pairing the Atoms with my Alpha SV, for what I think will be the ultimate in jackets.  More to come later.


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