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The Mid-layer I Wore Every Day Last Winter

Everybody needs an Arc'teryx Atom LT jacket

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Price: $300

Sizes: XS-XL

Weight: 330 g / 11.6 oz

Intended Use: Mid-layer for whatever you want to do outside.

Features: Trim fit, Hip Length

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PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman

It seems like every outdoor apparel brand has a synthetic hoody in their line. For good reason: compared to down, synthetic insulation is more breathable and water resistant, which makes it ideal for people who are getting after it in the mountains, in the snow. I've zipped up my fair share of synthetic hoodies. The Arc'teryx Atom LT is the one that has stuck with me for nearly two years.

The Arc'teryx Atom is the OG of synthetic mid-layers. It's been around forever, and maybe you've seen this jacket at the local crag, or in the ski lodge, or around town. I first saw this jacket on the backs of several friends. It didn't take long for me to get one for myself, and as soon as I took it out for a ski, I understood the Atom's timeless popularity and loyal following. Being one of the company's most popular jackets, Arc'teryx has expanded their Atom line to include two other versions in addition to the LT (an abbreviation for lightweight)—super light and all-round (warmer, more durable).

I found the Arc'teryx Atom LT to be excellent at regulating my body temperature. Polartec Power Stretch, with Hardface technology for durability, in the sidepanels and underarms dumped heat on top-to-bottom resort laps or while hiking in the backcountry. Storm days are the real test with the moisture in the air combined with the fact that I’m skiing hard and sweating. Fogged goggles are the giveaway that my layers aren’t working the way they’re supposed to and my body is dumping heat in the wrong place. When I wear this jacket, my goggles stay clear. And when I can see clearly, I keep skiing. With the exception of 60-degree-temps, flannels-only spring slush days, I've never been too hot while skiing in this jacket.

I've also never been too cold. The company sews Coreloft 60 insulation in the torso, arms, and hood, which is just the right amount of insulation to keep my body warm on the chairlift. (I wouldn’t say I’m prone to the shivers, nor do I run hot. I’m pretty average on my blood circulation.) For the amount of loft in the jacket, it's not bulky. Actually, it packs down as small, if not smaller, than my flannels.

Its light taffeta shell is treated with DWR and it is warm enough to wear as an outer layer around town or in the off-season, climbing, hiking, or camping. But for skiing, the Atom is meant to be a mid-layer. It’s comfortable, stretchy, cozy fit is why the Arc'teryx Atom LT is the secret sauce to my everyday setup on the ski hill. It’s perfectly sized to wear over a baselayer (usually I wear a lightweight merino wool baselayer) and under a shell. The "scuba" hood also fits over my helmet.

The jacket has also stood up to the test of time. I chose a timeless black, and the Atom still looks like I just got it last month. There are no holes, no stray threads, no nicks or dings, no snags. That's not because I haven't put it to tough conditions. Wherever I go, the Arc'teryx Atom LT hoody comes with me. I started my winter at Mammoth Mountain and kicked off the ski season with classic, wind-buffed chalk under a California blue sky. I caught a storm day in Breckenridge, Colorado, and I braved a cold snap in British Columbia to snake turns around snow ghosts. January was for the deep in the PNW. Sun Valley, Park City, Lake Tahoe, to Aspen—from wet slop days to high and dry ones, I experienced the full gamut of conditions this winter. My mid-layer, the Atom LT, was one of the only consistent things I relied on every day. That’s the quality you get and expect when you pay $300 for an Arc'teryx mid-layer.