Monday, 22 June 2020 12:40

Arcteryx Proton LT Hoody on test and review

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It's been a long time coming but people are finally getting back to the hills. In the run-up to lockdown we had a number of samples in on test including the Arcteryx Proton LT Hoody. 

It's a classic Arcteryx; simple, stylish and without compromise. Designed with climbers and mountaineers in mind it's designed as a high performance, minimalist hoody perfect for the Alps.

Proton LT Hoody 4

What Arcteryx say:

The Proton LT Hoody is equipped with a breathable insulation package to manage the dynamic needs of mountain pursuits and perform as a self-regulating mid layer for a variety of high output activities. Breathable insulation means excess heat and moisture can pass through the combination of air permeable fabrics and insulation. In addition to being extremely air permeable, the Fortius™ Air 20 face fabric has unrivaled hardwearing durability, over 60 times more durable in abrasion tests than the industry standard. Coreloft™ Compact 80 synthetic insulation in the body maintains excellent stretch recovery. The No Slip Zip™ keeps the main zipper from self-opening and the helmet compatible insulated hood gives additional warmth. Put it on, leave it on and stay focused on the activity.

Features:

  •  Air permeable/Wind resistant/Water resistant/Abrasion resistant
  •  Trim fit
  • Adjustable hood drawcords/helmet compatible
  • Insulated hood
  •  Chest/2 handwarmer pockets
  •  No slip Zip front zipper
  • Drop back hem
  •  Dual lower hem adjusters

On test

I received this jacket back in autumn 2019, with a view to taking it to the Swiss Alps. However a strictly ultralight kit list and small pack space made me leave it behind. Exceptionally warm and good weather also meant I hardly wore any insulation either.

It was left to a rather rubbish UK winter to test it out on a variety of trips; mainly winter walking in often high winds, some wild camps and general wear over several months. In that sense it’s been a good long term review and a jacket I love to use. It is stylish and unfussy, geared up for the job of mountain activities.

Firstly lets look at the breathability of the Proton. As the blurb states it is ‘extremely air permeable’. I agree on this and I’ve sweated heavily into it at points on windy climbs and felt the moisture wicking away nicely. Due to a decent level of insulation, you can of course treat the Proton like a traditional belay style jacket whilst stopped. However the combination of fabrics really do come into their own when on the move. In higher winds and low temperatures, the wind can cut through a fair amount, which allows the effective wicking. In proper winter conditions I felt the cold on stopping pretty quick though, so this really is a jacket that suits high output activity, regulating your body temperature really well.

Like all soft shell jackets with a degree of DWR coating, it does hold off light rain and cloudy conditions really well when new, but I found it needs a regular wash and reproof to keep this going. Nothing unusual here and a necessary maintenance routine in my opinion. 

Proton LT Hoody 2

It dries again on the move really well though, so suits winter work. The thin layer of insulation offered by the Coreloft means you can layer this with a hard-shell jacket in nastier conditions and proved great, as the breathability slows down moisture build up inside Goretex jackets.

The face fabric and cuffs have proven to be exceptionally hard-wearing. There is no bobbling after over 4 months of regular use. In particular I really like the cuffs; they’re really easy to slip over gloves and keep out spindrift and gales really well. Plus they are very comfortable against the wrists. The asymmetric layout of the cuff means it sits really nicely too and no riding up. 

Proton LT Hoody 1

Features wise, there is little on this jacket and I like the simple design which is a hallmark of Arcteryx garments. The No Slip Zip feature, a new one to me, works very well. The zip simply catches on the notches (five of then at the chin to neck area) and stays put, but pulls past easily when needed. The helmet compatible hood works well and allows a good range of movement. The hood once closed doesn’t come up too tight, which is a bug-bear of mine on a lot of coats as they get too tight when you’re breathing hard on climbs etc.

Proton LT Hoody 3

It is of course harness compatible allowing a good fit. Arcteryx sizing is quite ‘athletic’ and slim, so it’s worth checking this if you’re unfamiliar.

Arcteryx always have a high price tag and at £210 (on their website) for a basic design insulated jacket, that’s a lot. However I do think it really works; it is well thought out and not dissimilar to other premium brands. The Proton LT is a durable jacket and should last me a few years before replacing it. Its suits winter essentially and as long as you don’t drag it over too much granite it is very hard-wearing, despite how soft and comfortable it feels against the skin. The Proton LT is a good all rounder for winter climbers, walkers and it obviously makes you look really good in the pub afterwards.

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