I first tried out the Atom SL Hoody from Arc’Teryx last autumn during a trip to Malham in Yorkshire. I’m reluctant to use the word tested because I really didn’t give it anything testing to do. I pottered slowly over the limestone pavements under equally slowly changing skies; blue for a time followed by thunder grey then back to blue.
Both mornings were fresh, cool if you like, so I’d set off wearing the Atom. By mid-morning I was out the shadow of the valley floor, but just as the sun was beginning to warm the air it was met by a cool wind blowing over the tops, so the Atom remained on. All day in fact. The days ended in late afternoon almost as they’d begun, back down in the shadow of the valley floor with the temperature on the cool side.
At the time I hadn’t given much thought to the Atom if the truth be told. Looking back, it had been warm enough for the slow route finding first hour of the day, I hadn’t felt the need to remove it as I worked to gain height and it had dealt with the windy tops, even seeing off a light shower under a rainbow sky for a time.
So, just what is the Arc’Teryx Atom SL Hoody? Well in my mind it’s a lightly insulated wind shirt. It’s probably too simplistic to say it’s the super lightweight, wind resistant Squamish Hoody with a measured amount of Coreloft insulation in the body, but really, that’s pretty much it.
Arc’Teryx will tell you the Atom SL Hoody is “Designed to handle subtle climate shifts. Balancing air permeability with wind resistance, the shell material allows airflow during active periods, but helps cut the chill during static moments. 40g/m² Coreloft™ Compact insulation is highly compressible, insulates if wet, and delivers its superior performance for very little weight.” I’m sure this has all been proven in lab tests but of course we’re crag rats not lab rats and we’re all different.
So, why am I writing a review about the Atom SL Hoody now, almost six months after first wearing it? Well the thing is this; I didn’t really pay much notice to it when I had it, but I certainly missed it last week when I didn’t have it.
I spent the afternoon walking out of Wasdale and over the Scafells. I was wearing Rab Vapour-Rise over Meco much the same as I had been in Yorkshire. Only this time I didn’t have the Atom test piece, having handed it back in. I chose instead to cut out the wind with my Patagonia Houdini and it did so, wonderfully well. It always does. Once up on the tops however I was getting a little cold. No fault of the Houdini, wind wasn’t the problem, temperature was. So I put on my Haglofs Barrier insulated jacket and quickly warmed up. It’s a great piece for very cold days, trouble was, this wasn’t a very cold day. I quickly became too warm. So began a cycle of taking the barrier on and off throughout the afternoon. In half hour cycles; I was too cold for ten minutes, just right for ten minutes, then you guessed it, too warm for ten minutes. I suppose I could have removed my Vapour-Rise and worn the Barrier with the Meco but I was getting agitated by this point and not really thinking things through properly. The truth is, what I really needed was the Atom. A light weight insulation I could put on, leave on, and perform an activity in.
So, it wasn’t when I was wearing the Arc’Teryx Atom SL Hoody last Autumn in Yorkshire that I realised just how perfect a piece of kit it is, but last week in Wasdale while it was hanging up with the rest of our test kit in 2 Borrowdale Road.
8 March 2016 by Mark Wright
5 Peaks Challenge in the Lake District to be completed in 5 hours Challenge
10 Peaks Challenge in the Lake District to be completed in 10 hours.
Podiatrist Andrew Stanley will be in the George Fisher store offering 1:1 help and advice for your feet.