When I heard that Arc’teryx had redesigned its award-winning
Gamma MX Hoody Jacket
), I balked: How could this stellar jacket be improved? But the new Gamma MX is a definite upgrade. The designers gave it new patterning, which means improved fit and range of motion for the shoulders and arms. Arc’teryx also switched from Polartec Powershield to its proprietary Fortius 2.0 fabric, which is blessed with enhanced durability and water resistance without any sacrifice of stretch or breathability. These attributes make the Gamma MX Hoody a true softshell, allowing sweat to easily move through the fabric while still offering excellent wind and water resistance. Where this piece really shines is in cold-weather climbing. In the field, the MX Hoody stayed comfortably tucked under a harness while allowing full shoulder articulation; its visor-equipped hood worked well over a helmet or bare head. The zippers also functioned flawlessly. Adjustable wrist cuffs would be nice for really drippy ice climbing to help keep water from sneaking down my arms. But on the flip side, the simple cuffs never got in the way rock climbing or while pulling a puffy over the MX Hoody at chilly belays.