The Gamma MX line by the Vancouver, Canada-based Arc'Teryx company was awarded the Polartec Apex Award for best weather protection in January 2002, six months after the pieces were was introduced. No wonder, since the Jacket, Hoody and Pant, which started shipping in summer 2002, do the job well.
The SNEWS team tested all three pieces in many weather conditions in the last few months and found them durable, protective, breathable, insulating, water-resistant, and wind-blocking, as well as being soft and packable. On top of that, the jacket (16.4 ounces) and hoody (18.3 ounces) looked good when you wanted to go from trail to town for casual wear. And of course you want to look simply smashing at times too.
Made from Polartec Power Shield lightweight (Arc'teryx was the first company to use it) with Schoeller Dynamic for the pockets (and instep on the pant), the pieces have been well thought out with the jacket and hoody coming in women's and men's sizing. Both have full front zippers with wind flap, gusseted underarms to avoid lift, a laminated sleeve pocket that is extremely handy for little stuff like tissue or lip balm, 2 chest pockets with laminated zippers, and two handwarmer pockets, not to mention hidden drawcords at the hem to seal yourself from the elements. We particularly liked the soft, brushed, lined collar in the jacket and, for hood fans, the slim fit of the hood for added protection. The jacket also fits a range of sizes with a flattering trim fit.
The pant (18.3 ounces) too has become a SNEWS team favorite because of its trim fit, soft and stretchy durability and comfort, breathability, and wind- and moisture-resistance -- with a couple of exceptions to those raves:
The zippered slash hand pockets on the hips at first glance seem like a great addition to the higher-volume, very accessible outer thigh pockets. But one of our female testers found the angled hand pocket design left the zipper directly over the angle of the front hipbones, meaning that a backpack hip belt left big bruises and extreme soreness within hours. Granted, this may not affect everybody since how the pockets fit will depend on the wearer's build (and amount of, uh, cushioning) since another male tester didn't have a problem. But unfortunately that eliminates these pants from the backpack wardrobe. Also, the flap on the angled pockets in question left pocket access a bit awkward, forcing a wearer to kind of go under, up, then back in and down.
A side issue is that this pant does not come in both women's and men's sizing, leaving women in some cases just kind of making do, perhaps ending up with a little extra hip room to make up for leg length or a pant length that may be a tad too short. (In contrast, the Gamma LT pant comes in sizes for both genders.) As always, SNEWS supports equality in sizing and selection!
Gamma MX Jacket: $280
Gamm MX Hoody: $300
Gamma MX Pant: $240
4.5 hands clapping