sidebar

OutdoorGearLab Home

search
< Go to Softshell Jacket Women's

Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's Review

Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $350 List | $260.99 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Stretchy and the most comfortable fit, excellent mobility, highly breathable, helmet-compatible hood
Cons:  Expensive, non-adjustable cuffs
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Arcteryx
By McKenzie Long ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday

Our Verdict

A sofshell is essentially a luxury layer. Unlike the essential, possibly life-saving protection provided by hardshells and insulation layers, a softshell protects from mild weather, and its primary function is to allow the wearer to be more comfortable while active. More breathability = more comfortable temperature regulation. More stretchiness and mobility = more comfortable ease of movement.

If a softshell is designed for comfort, it is worth noting that the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody is the stretchiest, most breathable, and most luxurious feeling of all the softshells we evaluated. It is the epitome of what a softshell should be. And since a softshell is a luxury layer, you might as well go whole hog and get the most luscious feeling piece to wear, even it it comes at luxury price (which the Gamma MX definitely does.) There are more budget-friendly options for those that would like an inexpensive softshell layer, such as the Columbia Kruser Ridge - Women's, but none are as comfortable and pleasant to wear as the Gamma MX. We award this piece our Editors' Choice award for being everything that softshell should be and for functioning well in the widest range of uses.

New Colors for 2016
Scroll down to check out the new line of colors for this season.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Softshell Jacket for Women Review

up to 5 products
Score Product Price Measured Weight - Size Small (lbs) Material Number of Pockets
75
Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's $350
Editors' Choice Award
1.06 lbs Fortius 2.0: 49% polyester, 35% nylon, 16% spandex, 160 g/sq m 4 (1 chest, 1 sleeve, 2 hand)
70
Mammut Ultimate Hoody - Women's $280
0.94 lbs GORE WINDSTOPPER 2 hand
70
Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket - Women's $395
1.24 lbs 3L Dry.Q Elite Synchro NBT 4 (2 chest, 1 interior chest, 1 interior drop-in)
69
Marmot ROM - Women's $190
0.85 lbs WINDSTOPPER Softshell 100% Polyester Stretch 5.4 oz/yd, Softshell Double Weave 90% Polyester 10% Elastane Stretch 7.3 oz/yd 3 (1 chest, 2 hand)
69
Outdoor Research Enchainment - Women's $219
0.97 lbs 100% polyester fabric body, 100% polyester Schoeller fabric with Nanosphere technology under arms 4 (1 chest, 1 interior chest, 2 hand)
63
Patagonia Adze Hybrid Hoody - Women's $199
Best Buy Award
1.36 lbs Polartec Windbloc 3 (2 hand, 1 interior chest)
60
Columbia Kruser Ridge - Women's $115
Best Buy Award
1.02 lbs OMNI-SHIELD 100% polyester Nexgen Controur softshell 2 hand
60
North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie - Women's $170
1.36 lbs 90D 351 g/m2 (10.3 oz/sq yd) plain weave polyester TNF Apex ClimateBlock 3 (1 chest, 2 hand)

Our Analysis and Test Results

New Colors for 2016


In addition to Blackbird and Nickel (seen above), the Gamma MX is now offered in Cerulean (left) and Violet Wine (right).
Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's
Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's

Hands-On Review


A lightweight, stretchy, and deluxe softshell, this is the ideal piece for high-exertion winter activities that require a lot of movement and breathability. It earns our highest honor award for its lavish comfort and mobility, as well as its adequate wind and water resistance.

Performance Comparison


Softshell testing at the scenic Whitaker Point  Arkansas. The soft  pliable Gamma MX is so comfortable that it is a joy to wear. Whether hiking  cross-country skiing  or climbing  this jacket moves with you.
Softshell testing at the scenic Whitaker Point, Arkansas. The soft, pliable Gamma MX is so comfortable that it is a joy to wear. Whether hiking, cross-country skiing, or climbing, this jacket moves with you.

Breathability


Where the older version of this jacket was constructed from Polartec Power Shield, the recent versions are constructed from Arc'teryx's proprietary Fortius 2.0, which is 49% polyester, 35% nylon, 16% spandex. This shell is membrane-free and laminated to a thin fleece layer that adds soft against-the-skin comfort, a tiny bit of insulation, and helps to move moisture away from the body. The lack of a membrane in this material allows for exceptional breathability and also allows for more flexibility. Most of the other windproof shells in this review that have a membrane, such as The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie - Women's and the Patagonia Adze Hybrid have a stiffer, bulkier feel.

The pockets of the Gamma MX are lined with mesh  allowing the pockets to double as vents when left unzipped  increasing breathability.
The pockets of the Gamma MX are lined with mesh, allowing the pockets to double as vents when left unzipped, increasing breathability.

If you are really working hard and need more airflow, the mesh-lined hand pockets can be left unzipped and used as vents, which is a helpful detail.

Weather Protection


This piece is designed for mild weather and provides protection from light wind, snow, and moisture. It sheds water for a time and blocks a small amount of wind, but it won't shelter you from a storm or downpour. In that situation you would need a hardshell. It has a DWR finish to increase its water repellency and a hood that seals down against windy weather. If you need a windproof jacket, the Patagonia Adze Hybrid Hoody - Women's made from Polartec Windbloc or The North Face Apex Bionic made from TNF Apex ClimateBlock are both excellent and more affordable choices, though they are much stiffer and less breathable.

Mobility


The 16% spandex, four-way stretch face material of the Gamma MX is laminated to a four-way stretch fleece inner layer, which together allows for exceptional mobility. This jacket virtually disappears on the wearer. Articulated elbows and gusseted underarms ensure that the jacket does not ride up when the arms are raised, and it moves with the wearer during any type of activity. Throughout our tests we have found it to be comfortable for hiking, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, and everyday wear.

Weight


The insualting fleece inner lining of this jacket adds a bit of weight, but it is on the lighter side when compared to other jackets in our test, only weighing 1.06 lbs. We do not think that is is so heavy as to be cumbersome, and we still recommend it for long days in the mountains. It weighs less than the Adze, the Apex Bionic, and the highly weather resistant MHW Alchemy, and is more comfortable than each of these as well.

Features


The Gamma MX has the perfect list of features suitable to the ice climber, backcountry skier, or general winter athlete. The helmet-compatible StormHood adjusts for volume in the back and around the face. The hood features a stiff, laminated brim, which is a helpful for keeping the hood firmly in place on a helmet and for blocking sun or rain from your eyes. It fits over a helmet easily, and remarkably also adjusts down to fit well over a bare head. It does this better than any other hood in our review, and we find the adjustments to be smooth, clever, and easy to use.

We love the hood adjustment on the Gamma MX. It fits over a helmet if needed  but cinches down easily and unobtrusively if you want to wear the hood without a helmet. No other helmet compatible hood we tested works quite so sleekly.
We love the hood adjustment on the Gamma MX. It fits over a helmet if needed, but cinches down easily and unobtrusively if you want to wear the hood without a helmet. No other helmet compatible hood we tested works quite so sleekly.

This jacket has four pockets: one laminated sleeve pocket, one garaged chest pocket, and two hand-warmer pockets. Unlike the clever chest pockets on the climber-oriented MHW Alchemy, a harness or a pack waist-belt interferes with the placement of the Gamma MX's hand pockets, preventing access.

The chest pocket on the Arc'teryx Gamma MX is garaged underneath an outer flap  keeping wind and rain away from the zipper. We love the convenience of a chest pocket for stashing important items if you are wearing a harness or for keeping a phone or iPod when listening to headphones.
The chest pocket on the Arc'teryx Gamma MX is garaged underneath an outer flap, keeping wind and rain away from the zipper. We love the convenience of a chest pocket for stashing important items if you are wearing a harness or for keeping a phone or iPod when listening to headphones.

The stretch-woven cuffs are not adjustable, so they cannot be tightened around glove cuffs, but they do slide smoothly underneath gloves with a long gauntlet. This simple design keeps the jacket lighter and more streamlined. Although most of our testers prefer Velcro adjustable cuffs, there are some testers that dislike this feature, in which case the cuff configuration on this jacket is a bonus.

In general, we find the construction quality of this piece to be very high and the details to be well thought-out and useful. It has a a durable, thick windflap behind the zipper that prevents snagging and also prevents cold air from coming inside the jacket. The plastic zipper is durable and easy to zip. The material by the face is a very soft, fine fleece which prevents chin chap when the hood is zipped all the way closed. All these features add to the comfort and ease of wear of this jacket.

Style


The Gamma MX is slim and contour-fitting, providing an flattering fit and look. Like all the other women's softshells we evaluated, the style is slightly more technical than a favored casual around-town piece, but this model looks decidedly less techy than the Outdoor Research Enchainment - Women's or the Patagonia Adze Hybrid. We could see ourselves wearing this piece to run errands or walk the dog and not feel like it is overkill. We also find the available colors appealing, not to mention that the comfort of this jacket makes us want to throw it on every time we walk out the door.

Best Application


Since the Gamma MX shines in the mobility and breathability categories, we find it excels at high-exertion fall and winter activities such as backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, running, hiking, and snowshoeing. The helmet-compatible hood provides some versatility, making it function well during sports like ice and alpine climbing where wearing a helmet is mandatory, but unlike the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy which are exclusively targeted towards climbers, the Gamma MX can transition just as easily to other sports such as cross-country skiing without seeming overbuilt. We find this shell to have a very wide range of uses, which is one of the reasons it takes our Editors' Choice award. From a casual dog-walk to a an intense day in the mountains, this shell will keep you comfortable.

Going for a fall hike in the Arc'teryx Gamma MX. This flexible  comfortable  softshell is ideal for cold weather activities such as hiking  snowshoeing  or cross-country skiing where it adds a level of protection from wind and weather but still moves easily with the wearer and breathes well.
Going for a fall hike in the Arc'teryx Gamma MX. This flexible, comfortable, softshell is ideal for cold weather activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing where it adds a level of protection from wind and weather but still moves easily with the wearer and breathes well.

Value


Ranking up there with the highly weather resistant Mountain Hardwear Alchemy - Women's, the Gamma MX is one of the most expensive jackets in this review, making it a commitment to purchase. However, as we mentioned before, since a softshell is already a luxury layer, paying a luxury price for the best option seems worthwhile. This jacket is exceptionally comfortable, which is where a softshell excels. If you do throw down and purchase the Gamma MX, we don't think you will be disappointed. Making your investment even more worthwhile is the fact that this jacket is extremely durable, and the classic look is likely to remain stylish for years as well.

The smooth and stretchy Gamma MX is quite durable. It has lasted this tester almost 4 years of frequent use and it doesn't show many signs of wear. This makes the high price tag even more worth it.
The smooth and stretchy Gamma MX is quite durable. It has lasted this tester almost 4 years of frequent use and it doesn't show many signs of wear. This makes the high price tag even more worth it.

Conclusion


A high-end softshell, the stretchy Gamma MX Hoody offers exceptional breathability, mobility, and comfort. It maintains a classic style while still providing protection in mild weather. We think this piece exemplifies the desirable characteristics of a softshell more than any other piece we tested, which is why is takes the Editors' Choice award.

Other Versions


Arc'teryx Gamma MX - Men's
  • Cost - $350
  • Men's version of this same jacket
  • A perennial favorite among mountain guides

Gamma MX Jacket - Women's (non-hoody)
Arcteryx Gamma MX Jacket - Women's
  • Cost - $300
  • Non-hooded version of the Gamma MX

McKenzie Long
  • Share this article:
You Might Also Like

Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
MooseJaw $260.99  -  25% off!
Amazon $325.24  -  7% off!
Backcountry $349.00
Compare prices at 4 sellers >

*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.