The Arcteryx Proton LT Insulated Hoodie is a synthetic insulated jacket that can be used as an active outer layer in cold weather. It’s designed as a self-regulating insulation layer that vents excess heat and moisture through a combination of air-permeable fabrics and insulation. The goal is to eliminate the need for active layering so you don’t need to stop to delayer or add layers when you overheat or feel chilled. If this sounds like magic, it would be if it worked. But it doesn’t even get close. You’d be a lot more comfortable actively layering with a fleece hoody and a windbreaker and you’d spend less money too.
Specs at a Glance
- Fit: Athletic
- Size tested: XL
- Weight: 13.2 oz (medium)
- Pockets – 1 chest, 2 sides, all zippered
- Helmet-compatible hood: Yes
- Hem-adjusters: 2
- Coreloft (polyester) 80 in the torso
- Coreloft (polyester) 60 in the hood
- Water-resistant: Yes
Fabrics and Features
The Arcteryx Proton LT is a medium-weight multi-sport jacket that is insulated with Coreloft, a non-woven, synthetic insulation that dries quickly, retains warmth when wet and is easy to care for. The insulation is made with mixed length polyester fibers that are crimped to trap warm air but resist compaction allowing the use of looser weave face and lining fabrics for increased air permeability. In other words, so moisture can escape more readily instead of being trapped in the insulation or the liner and make you wet.
Feature-wise, the Proton LT has an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood for skiing or climbing, elastic wrist cuffs, and dual hem controls. Three large zippered pockets provide convenient external storage, while an external DWR coating helps shed light rain. The factory DWR is fantastic on this jacket, but of course, it will wear off the more you wear it and stuff and unstuff it.
Helmet Adjustable Hood
The hood is helmet-compatible which usually means it’s oversized and primarily designed for climbers and skiers who wear helmets. While there is a rear volume adjuster, there’s no effective way to shrink the size of the face opening to prevent cold wind from blowing in the sides.
Elastic Wrist Cuffs
The Proton LT has spandex wrist cuffs that prevent cold air from blowing up your arms and chilling the blood the flows near your wrists. The tension with which they encircle your wrist is not adjustable though, so you can’t vent body heat from your wrists where the blood flows close to your skin. The arms are also cut quite narrow, even for skinny hiker arms, so you can’t pull the sleeves up your arms to cool off either. The sleeves are so narrow that it can be difficult to wear the Proton LT with a thick baselayer.
The Proton LT has 3 pockets, all quite large and capable of holding bulky gloves and electronics. The chest pocket has ample space to hold a large smartphone, GPS, or snacks, while the side pockets are large enough to fit gloves. All of the pockets close with zippers, but the side pockets are not hip belt compatible, so you need to undo your backpack hip belt if you want to access them. There are no pockets on the inside of the jacket, which you really want in autumn or winter to keep electronics and food bars warm and to prevent gloves or hats from freezing.
Performance: Breathability and Warmth
The Proton LT doesn’t have any pit zips, torso zips, adjustable wrist cuffs or mesh-backed pockets where excess warmth and moisture can escape but relies on the structure of its insulation to dump excess heat and vent perspiration. This it does very poorly. Its wind resistance is also very poor and you can feel wind cut right through it.
When I’m active and hiking up a mountain or snowshoeing up a hill, my back is drenched with sweat which soaks into the back of the jacket and chills me. Once wet, the jacket stays wet. I’ve used the jacket layered over just a baselayer in temperatures ranging from 45 degrees down to 10 degrees from August through December and the result is always the same. I sweat copiously when I wear it for hiking, backpacking, or snowshoeing, moisture accumulates in the jacket, and chills me.
Comparable Hooded Synthetic Jackets
|Make / Model||Price||Weight||Insulation|
|Arc'terxy Atom LT Hoody||$259||12.7 oz||Coreloft|
|Acr'teryx Proton LT Hoody||$299||13.2 oz||Coreloft|
|LL Bean Primaloft Packaway Hooded Jacket||$199||14.0 oz||Primaloft Gold|
|Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata Hooded Jacket||$220||14.1 oz||Primaloft Gold|
|Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Hoodie||$250||11.5 oz||Primaloft|
|Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody||$299||9.3 oz||PlumaFill Polyester|
|Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody||$249||11.6 oz||FullRange Polyester|
|The North Face Thermoball Eco Hoodie||$220||15.9 oz||Thermoball|
|The North Face Ventrix Hoodie||$220||15.5 oz||Ventrix|
|Rab Xeon X Hooded Jacket||$235||12 oz||Primaloft Gold|
|Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody||$249||13 oz||Polartec Alpha|
|Outdoor Research Refuge Air Hooded Jacket||$229||16.8 oz||VerticalX|
The Arcteryx Proton LT Insulated Hoodie is missing all of the standard thermo-regulation and convenience features I look for in serious hiking and backpacking jackets or mid-layer garments, such as a fully adjustable hood, flexible wrist venting, thumb loops, pit zips, hip belt compatible pockets, and interior pockets. Some or all of these would make the Proton LT much more flexible for use by hikers and snowshoers while improving the hoodie’s ability to vent excess moisture.
The bottom line: I believe that the Arcteryx Proton LT is primarily designed for climbers, skiers, and casual use, and not for hikers and backpackers who need a more dynamic layering system that can be constantly adjusted throughout the day. My advice: You’d be better of buying a good fleece hoodie and a breathable nylon wind shirt or rain jacket for autumn or winter hiking and backpacking. They’re much easier to layer than an all-in-one synthetic-insulated hoodie and you can usually find reasonably priced ones with the required features.
Disclosure: REI and Arc’teryx provided the author with a sample hoodie for this review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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