A longtime staple of the Arc’teryx lineup, the Atom SL (Super Light) Hoody has proven to be a versatile piece for hikers, runners and climbers alike. Designed as a dual purpose garment, this jacket bridges the gap between winter and spring seasons by acting as an effective layer under a shell or a standalone garment. We tested this hoody during rainy and windy days on the central coast of California and over the course of our testing, it kept us warm and dry during moderate rain, and was a go-to piece on cold mornings.
The primary update to the 2021 edition of this jacket is the use of a shell fabric called Tyono 20. This is a water-resistant, 100% nylon material that has very high wind resistance for such a light weight. When tested in the rain during trail runs, the Atom SL effectively kept us dry without overheating. The shell exterior is not waterproof by any means, but the synthetic materials help maintain insulation even when the rain soaks through. Side panels and underarms are made of a lightweight, stretch fleece material that allows for ventilation during activity, and adds warmth when wearing as a base layer.
A key feature to the Atom SL is the Coreloft insulation. This thin insulation is strategically placed on the chest and back to provide warmth to the core while saving weight and adding breathability by not having insulation on the underarms and side panels. The material has great compressive quality and the Atom SL is marketed as “highly packable,” but one element that surprised us is that the Atom SL does not stow away into its own pocket similar to other models. We did manage to compress and stuff it into the hood for storage in our pack, but it’s not as efficient as other packable jackets we’ve used.
Fit of the Atom SL runs true to size, with a relatively slim profile through the torso that allows for layering under a waterproof shell. The hem is tapered slightly in the back and has a cinch cord on the right hip that allows for a custom fit. The sleeves are not insulated but do have a mesh type of liner inside that acts as a barrier between your arm and the shell – we found this to be helpful in preventing the sleeves from sticking to sweaty arms on warmer runs. One design aspect we appreciate is that internal seam placement on the sleeves stays clear of customary chafing areas.
One challenge for some users could be the static cuffs, as they have very minimal stretch and couldn’t be comfortably rolled up past our forearms during runs. The scalloped sleeve opening, however, is a nice touch and worked well in a variety of weather to allow quick access to GPS watches while keeping excess fabric off the wrist. The uninsulated storm hood offers excellent protection from the elements and can cinch down tight over a beanie. The added brim of the hood combined with the high collar leaves little room for the elements to penetrate when the wind kicks up. A nice update to the 2021 design, the hood now stows away into the collar with a simple button and elastic loop.
Throughout our winter and spring testing, we brought this jacket along on numerous runs and were surprised by its capabilities as a durable weather-resistant layer.
Basic Summary: A combination piece somewhere between fleece mid-layer and water-resistant windbreaker, this lightweight jacket features synthetic insulation on the chest and back while a more breathable fleece covers the under arms and side panels. A trim fit makes it easy to use as a base layer or a stand alone hoody. The uninsulated hood can easily cinch down around a hat or head, and folds into the collar when not in use.
The Atom SL Hoody is available in men’s and women’s versions at www.arcteryx.com.
Specs and Features:
- Weight: 9.5oz men’s / 8.3oz women’s
- Shell fabric: wind-resistant, 100% nylon Tyono 20
- Compact 40 synthetic insulation on chest and back
- Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish
- Adjustable hem drawcord
- Stowable storm hood
- Bluesign approved breathable stretch fleece on underarms
- NoSlipZip front zipper