The end result is an almost traditional down-style jacket that weighs in at a miserly 215g, is thin enough to easily act as a midlayer in damp conditions but warm enough in classic summer alpine conditions.
What the manufacturers say:
Designed with a disciplined minimalism, the Cerium SL Hoody is exceptionally light and compressible. It primarily functions as a midlayer, but its efficient warmth and packability makes it an effective standalone for rest breaks, evenings at camp, or emergency bivvies. The 850 fill power goose down’s warmth to weight ratio is outstanding, and the wind resistant Arato™ 7 nylon shell is ultra lightweight and resists tearing. An insulated StormHood™ adds warmth.
- Moisture resistant outer face fabric
- Great warmth to weight ratio
- Compressible and packable
- Wind resistant
- Super lightweight Arato 7 face fabric with DWR finish
- Down composite Mapping strategically places Coreloft synthetic insulation in areas where moisture may be build up and down in areas for maximum warmth
- Trim fit keeps warmth close to the body
- Adjustable hood drawcords
- Down insulated StormHood
- Low profile hood
- Full front zip with chin guard
- Corded zipper-pulls
- Minimised zippers help reduce weight and bulk
- Elastic cuffs
- Adjustable hem cord seals out drafts
- Two hand pockets with zippers
- Stuff sack provides easy transport
Arcteryx Cerium SL Hoody on test:
There's no escaping the fact that when you open the bag and pull the Arcteryx Cerium SL Hoody you wonder how effective something so minimalist can actually perform outside the showroom. It's only the famous Arcteryx logo on the chest that tells you this is a serious insulated jacket. Once past the initial misgivings, however, the Cerium SL Hoody demonstrates again that Arcteryx are the masters of minimalist performance.
The fit is very much Arcteryx, trim, slim and tailored. Despite the slim fit, however, it's very much built for movement with under-arm gussets that allows a full range of flexibility from the shoulders down to the cuffs. At a push it will accomodate both a baselayer and a thin midlayer underneath but it's really in its element as a mid/outer layer, being slimline enough to easily take a waterproof shell over it. Despite being short the articulation around the shoulders and arms means hem-lift is minimal even with arms at full stretch above the wearer without cinching the hem in with its adjustable drawcord.
The insulation Arcteryx have used demonstrates a philosophy that minimilism shouldn't mean compromises on materials, with 56g of 850 fill power European Goose down in the core and synthetic CoreLoft in the shoulder panel, lower hem, underarm and sleeve cuffs where moisture tends to accumulate under exertion. The selction of a high fill power down means you get a decent level of insulation with minimal bulk, with the result that the jacket can fit in a tiny, 1.5l, stuff sack that's neatly attached inside the left hand pocket.
Looking closely the Cerium SL Hoody is minimalist but beneath the surface there's a lot of seriously technical innovation going on. The Arcteryx hood is an industry classic that's become so familiar as to be be taken for granted but the level of detail shouldn't be overlooked, allowing a full range of rotation with the hood following seamlessly.
The collar is high and chin-protection on either side of the zip shows again that function isn't compromised in the search for weight saving. As a mid-layer rather than an outer shell the hood doesn't have a peak and with only a single, one-handed, volume adjuster the hood has an elasticated band running around the front edge, which pulls the hood in tight around the face.
Chin guards at the top of the zip
If there's one area where the gram-saving is particularly highlighted it's in the pockets. You get the standard two front pockets but they're definitely hand-warmer size rather than large enough to hold a map and with the pocket unzipped you get an idea just how thin the inside lining is with light passing through almost unobstructed.
Light passes through the thin intside fabric of the pockets.
After testing in the Swiss Alps in summer the initail concerns with just how lightweight the Cerium SL feels were totally dispelled as the jacket easily matched a synthetic jacket weighing over twice as muc. The 850fp down lofts consistently and instantly and the attention to detail really makes its presence known with the jacket prucing its own internal micro-climate. The elasticated cuffs work well without being restrictive and together with the easy adjust hem and elasticated hood the Cerium SL Hoody provides an almost instant respite from the cold. It's almost rare to see down that doesn't have a hydrophobic coating these days but used in the right conditions, cold and dry, there does seem to be an increase in breathability and the Arato 7 face fabric allows an addition shell to slip on and off very easily. Above all, however, the Cerium SL Hoody dispells the myth that minimalist and ultra-lightweight means over compromising on function; in reality the jacket performs as well as, if not better than, many heavier weight competitors. The build quality is, as usual, flawless and the DWR coating can withstand snow, hail, sleet and the odd shower without wetting out. Overall the Cerium SL Hoody does what it says on the label - and a bit more.