It is officially Fall. Cool weather climbing is upon is and soon the bitter cold of Winter will descend on us too; we can’t wait. One of the newest mid-layer jackets on the market is the Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody. Read on to see what we think of it so far.
One of the great mysteries of the world is how to make a good mid-layer that can keep you warm, without making you too warm. Arc’teryx has used a combination of materials in the Proton LT Hoody that they think will make a great Fall outer jacket and Winter mid-layer. The material used on the exterior of the jacket is Fortius Air 40. Mainly comprised of nylon, but with 8% elastane for a little stretch and give. The inner lining is constructed of Permeair 20, a similar makeup of materials, but made to allow more airflow. In between the two layers is a thin layer of Coreloft Continuous 65 insulation. I don’t know if this is a new insulation that Arc’teryx is using, but it’s made of several sizes of fibers that mesh together to create the necessary insulating air pockets that keep you warm, but also allow for transfer of moisture. The cuffs are non-adjustable spandex or elastane material that make it easy to slip your hands in and out, but keep the cuff area from getting bulky with straps or closure systems. A helmet compatible hood comes on the Hoody version that we tested, but Arc’teryx makes a non-hooded version if you prefer. Standard hip pockets and a single exterior chest pocket give you places to zip things in place that you don’t want to get away from you. The hip pockets are placed high enough to stay out of the way of a harness if you’re wearing the jacket while climbing.
Arc’teryx created the Proton LT Hoody with performance in mind. Temperatures haven’t dropped quite enough yet for us to test this for alpine and ice climbing, but we ran it through the gamut of Fall activities by hiking, running and climbing in it.
One tester said, “The exterior fabric did a pretty good job of keeping the stiff cold winds from sucking away too much of my warmth. Really strong winds still cut through to the point where I wished I had a shell over the top, but that was fairly rare. I was pleased with the heat regulating properties that allowed much of my excess heat and sweat to disperse when hiking fast or running.”
We found the amount of insulation to be just about perfect for Fall climbing and approaches. On those really chilly mornings or crags that stayed in the shade our testers often found they kept the jacket on while climbing and were able to climb and belay without getting overheated, or too cold. The hood was also nice when unexpected chilly winds popped up and I could just pull the hood up over my helmet. I suspect this will be the case when ice and alpine climbing starts and the cold canyon winds remind you that you forgot a beanie. Durability of the jacket seems good. We didn’t exactly grovel through any nasty chimneys but there’s always a fair amount of scuffing of shoulders and elbows while climbing, not to mention a fair amount of bushwhacking on approaches and the Proton LT Hoody doesn’t appear any worse for wear than when we pulled it out of the box. The fairly tight weave seems to keep snags at bay. The Proton LT Hoody is designed with minimalist features in mind. The zippers and pulls are all on the small size, but we didn’t have any trouble, and don’t anticipate having any trouble, with durability or longevity. The zippers all ran up and down without any snags or stress points. One of our testers did wish for a media port on the inside of the chest pocket so he could listen to music while hiking and climbing. The fit is what we would call athletic. It is cut just slim enough to keep it from being baggy and ill-fitting, but doesn’t feel to form fitting or constricting in any way. The sleeves are cut and shaped to give plenty of reach and articulation without raising the hem much. A full stretch of my arms only raises the hem an inch or so, which means it stays put under a harness and won’t move up and create open gaps where cold wind can sneak in.
While we’re looking forward to some longer term testing and using the Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody through a full year of climbing activities, we are impressed with its performance thus far. Most of our testers agreed that the design and materials used definitely put this jacket on their short list of mid-layer jackets that they would like to buy. The balance that Arc’teryx has struck with a truly active jacket is really great to see and use. I can see using the Proton LT Hoody for everything from wearing around town, to alpine ski touring, ice climbing and backcountry rock climbing where versatile layers are worth their weight in gold, but pack down and weigh close to nothing (15 oz.). The color options all look good. We tested the Bombora blue, but it also comes in red, orange and gray.
More information at www.arcteryx.com