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Arc'teryx - Gamma SL Hybrid Hoody

posted Nov 3, 2013, 2:58 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Dec 17, 2013, 11:29 AM ]

For Go Out Project lightness and versatility are a fixation. Soft Shells are among the most versatile garments and the Arc'teryx Gamma SL Hybrid Hoody is one of the lightest Soft Shell on the market. Could we miss the chance to try it? Certainly not!

Technical Description

A lightweight Soft Shell, built with a combination of two different elastic fabrics: the tougher Fortius 1.0 on shoulders, elbows, and forearms and the lighter TerraTex on the rest of the body. 

Technical Features
  • Helmet compatible adjustable hood
  • Adjustable cuffs with Velcro closure
  • Drop back hem
  • Harness HemLock™ inserts to keep jacket in position under the harness
  • Chest pocket and two hand pockets with laminated zippers
  • Hidden adjustment cords on hood and hem
  • DWR treatment
Weight: 370g (size M)

Designed for mixed climbing, the Gamma SL Hybrid has some technical features that makes it stand out. The hand pockets are strategically positioned: easy to access when wearing a harness. The Hemlock inserts, two (removable) hollow tubes of sponge, prevent the jacket from moving up when climbing. We find this a simple and brilliant solution! Bondings and laminations, instead of vulnerable exposed seams, make the jacket more resistant and give it a cleaner and simpler look. The Gamma SL Hybrid is certainly one of the best examples of high-quality textile manufacturing we have seen so far.

Our Test

The Gamma SL Hybrid is an extremely light, not insulated garment. We tested it from early spring to mid-autumn, the period of the year in which this jacket is supposed to function at its best. We used it for climbing, trail running, mountain biking, skiing, and hiking in a temperature range of approximately 2-24°C, mostly in good weather conditions, but also in windy, rainy, and snowy conditions.

First Impressions
The Gamma SL Hybrid is soft, flexible, and light, sort of like a cotton shirt, but also stretchable... very stretchable! The fit is relatively tight, but this does not bother at all, because of the high stretchability of the fabrics. The level of finish and quality of materials is very high. It doesn't look at all like a garment destined to get dirty on the rock and ice, 
but more like a fashionable garment for its supple style and high-quality manufacture!

Lightness & Packability
With only 370 g you cannot ask for much less weight on a garment that is well suited to a thousand outdoor uses. If it wasn't for the gentle touch of the hood on your shoulders, you wouldn't even notice that you are wearing it. When carried in your backpack it's almost "non-existing", occupying approximately the same volume of a pair of gloves! Probably also for this reason it has faithfully accompanied our testers everywhere for more than 6 months!

Cut & Fit
The Gamma SL Hybrid dresses like a tailored suit! All designers of outdoor garments should take this jacket as a prototype of the "Perfect Jacket". It's hard to do better. Nothing is superfluous. Thanks also to the stretchable fabric, the jacket follows the shape of the body to perfection without hampering the movements. During
speed sports, such as skiing or mountain biking, it doesn't flutter. Although the fit is quite tight, some room is left for less bulky insulating layers.

Because of its lightness, softness, and stretchability the jacket is very comfortable in every situation, even when more ample and more complex movements are required. Most of the time it's hard to notice that you are wearing it!

Even during the most intense activities, such as trail running, the breathability is high enough to keep water vapor condensation very low. This also means that you practically never require to modify your layered clothing system.

Weather Protection
The exceptional breathability necessarily implies a little less protection from the elements. A breeze is not a problem, but moderate to strong wind passes easily trough the fabrics. For skiing
and mountain biking we would have liked a little more protection on the chest. The DWR treatment initially does its job, but probably due to the great elasticity of the fabrics, it also fades away quite quickly. After a few months of use it was totally lost on the most exposed areas. A relatively frequent reactivation of the DWR coating is therefore needed. 

We were amazed by its abrasion resistance. Since the fabrics are relatively thin, we would have expected a limited lifetime of the material and some premature signs of wear, but instead we were positively surprised by how the jacket withstood all our tests... even a good grating on the asphalt after a bike fall! At the end of our tests, the signs of wear were really only minor and did not affect the performance of the garment.

Although designed for mountaineering, it is an excellent jacket for many outdoor sports. It is such a polyvalent garment that it would
 be really a shame to restrict its use to a single sport only. Given its lightness and packability, you'll always find some room to pack it in your backpack and to bring it with you.

Our Verdict

If you are looking for a lightweight, stretchable, and breathable weather-protecting garment that can go along with you in many adventures out there, especially in the less cold months of the year, the Gamma SL Hybrid is the right garment for you. Perfect for those who practice high-intensity outdoor activities and those who are ready to accept a little compromise in weather protection, when the weather gets bad. Even if it may not be considered an essential piece of gear, we recommend it to all those who strongly believe in the most advanced concepts and who want to be a step ahead.

+ Perfect cut
+ Very light
+ Highly breathable

- Limited weather protection

 Lightness & Packability
 Cut & Fit
 Freedom of Movement
 Comfort   9/10
 Breathability   9/10
 Weather Protection
 Versatility   9/10
 Durability   8/10
 Total Score

Text & Photos by Marco Martino 

Arc'Teryx Gamma SL Hibryd Hoody