Atom SL Hoody from Arc'teryx Review

Introducing the latest addition to the Arc’teryx Atom family: the Atom SL Hoody. Hitting the shops in Spring/Summer 2016, this summer insulation layer is the most lightweight jacket to join the popular Atom range. I took this bright flamenco number for a spin in the Lakes and the Peak to test whether it lives up to the hype.

Christina Barningham in the Atom SL Hoody from Arc'teryx
© Christina Barningham

When I first tried the jacket on, I wasn’t quite sure if it would be a necessary piece of kit for hill walking in the famously changeable British weather, where it’s almost impossible to avoid that layer-on-layer-off routine. What advantages would the Atom SL Hoody give me over a classic fleece or a soft shell jacket? Why would I take this instead of a warmer down jacket? The simple answer is more breathability and maneuverability. 

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of how the jacket performed, I must stress that this is a summer jacket. It has some wind resistance for breezy weather but it is neither a windproof nor a waterproof jacket. I would consider it a compromise when it’s too hot to wear a down jacket yet too chilly to wear a mid-layer and you want to drop the warmth and weight without losing that protective shield. It definitely offers more protection (and style) than your average fleece but the focus of this jacket is on its stripped back weight saving features.

Typical of Arc’teryx kit is the excellent standard of design. The fit and cut of the Atom SL Hoody is outstanding and nothing hinders its mobility when moving athletically. On a crisp September weekend, I put it through its paces in The Lakes and when clambering over a boulder field, it moved effortlessly, whilst keeping my temperature regulated. The hood is adjustable with pull cords to fit with or without a helmet and the laminated brim in the peak of the hood is a nice touch to keep it in place when battling the wind. 

Christina Barningham in the Atom SL Hoody from Arc'teryx
© Christina Barningham

The jacket is made up of a mix of materials: the material under the arms has a stretchy fleecy feel whilst the main panels are made of a soft, shower resistant fabric offering some water repellency. There are two good-sized external pockets but no internal pockets. In terms of its technical features, my only issue is with the cuffs. They are designed to cover the back of the hand, so are slightly oval shaped on the upper side. This just doesn’t work for me. I much prefer an elasticated cuff, which stays snug on the wrist. I must admit I’m not graced with long limbs so ended up rolling up the sleeves to keep my hands free from the extra material. I wore a size Medium for the test, but as I’m a UK 10, I can comfortably wear a size Small.


This is a really usable and durable jacket. It will definitely be popular among the outdoorsy fashionistas out there, but for me, the £170 price tag is a bit of a hit to the budget. That said, I’m a sucker for a versatile piece kit and the Atom SL Hoody is just that! 

Christina Barningham in the Atom SL Hoody from Arc'teryx
© Christina Barningham

  • Weight: 285/250g (Men’s/Women’s Medium)
  • RRP: £170


Atom SL Hoody from Arc'teryx, 28 kb
What Arc’teryx say:

The new Atom SL Hoody is the perfect “always with me” jacket for summer outdoor activities. From climbing to camping, the lightest member of the Atom family offers quick warmth and protection on chilly evenings or shady walls.

The lightweight Coreloft compact fibre insulation (40g/m2) is quilted to the lining to keep the insulation in place and increase durability. Stretchy side and arm panels from soft fleece with a smooth, pilling resistant upper offer perfect ventilation and climate management. Covering a whole range of different uses, the Atom SL Hoody is the perfect second layer during a chilly spell in summer as well as for active use in the outdoors.

The Atom SL fits in the smallest corner of a backpack. Still, it offers all the essential features like two zippered pockets, adjustable hood with laminated brim and adjustable waist cord. The well-designed cuffs cover the back of the hand if necessary, while the stretch panels also allow for pulling the sleeve up the forearm for additional venting. The patent pending No-Slip-Zip™ front zipper works like a series of speed bumps to keep the zipper from self-opening. The Atom SL Hoody is a must-have for all who are looking for a versatile, lightweight Jacket to take out for everything: from the crag to the campsite to the café.


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