The Gamma MX is an athletic fitting softshell constructed of Polartec Power Shield and Schoeller Dynamic fabrics. It has plenty of pockets with two chest, two hand, and a small bicep pocket. The size medium is snug for me at 5’11” at 175 lbs, but I can still fit a couple of long sleeve base layer shirts underneath.
How do I use it and what’s good?
The softshell market is a funny niche that I didn’t necessarily understand until owning one. Previously I thought hard-shells were for precip and wind and fleece or down was for mid-insulation.
Softshells seem to bridge a little of both worlds and seem to be a better choice over a traditional fleece for insulation. They can be as thick or thin as required for the conditions and the smooth outer layer doesn’t bind and bunch up with other layers over top. They also offer better water shedding capabilities than a traditional fleece and depending on the model they may also use wind stopping fabrics as well.
The MX stands for mixed use and my favourite thing about this jacket is how many uses I can wear it for. It works well as an outer layer in the shoulder seasons and strikes a good balance between windproofness and breathability. It also has a DWR treatment that does a good job shedding light rain.
It would be possible in mild conditions to just use a softshell and do away with the hard-shell all together. Some hikers are adopting principles that one could hike mildly wet, but still be comfortable. I haven’t moved to that extreme yet, but if I was I would consider a softshell with higher wind resistance and a hood.
In this case, I wanted a softshell that would breathe well as a mid-layer, so I avoided the jackets with Windstopper fabrics. The Gamma MX performs well with my hard-shell and under my down jacket in colder conditions, working perfectly as a layer for skiing.
The Gamma MX also works very well as a casual/semi-dressy jacket with jeans so I can pack less extra clothing when I’m traveling. I’ve used it on all of my backcountry excursions for the past year and it still cleans up to look as good as new
I really like the fit and finish of this jacket. The fabric inside is very soft and the outside has a smooth stretchy feel. Arc’teryx clearly paid a lot of attention to the details with very smooth zippers, tight fitted cuffs, and a comfortable collar. This is a better fitting jacket than the Stormtech softshell that I used to wear.
What’s not so good?
The price for this jacket is extremely high when compared to other softshells, even from other
well known brands. I feel the quality and finish is higher than other brands that I’ve looked at, but this jacket also comes with a substantial price premium.If you can, try and find it on sale, as various outdoor gear websites have it on from time to time.
The other thing that I’m not entirely happy with is the Arc’teryx logo on the chest of the jacket. It is made of a reflective glossy material that looks cheap considering the price.
I would consider the Arc’teryx Gamma AR
as a classier looking alternative that likely performs similarly to the MX. The AR has an embroidered bird logo with the brand name embroidered underneath, it also has two higher side zip pockets that may be more accessible when wearing a pack waist belt.
The Gamma AR, with embroidered logo:
If I could make the choice again I would buy the Gamma AR, purely because I like the look of it a little more. That being said, the Gamma MX is a fantastic softshell and performs even better than I expected. If you have the funds I highly recommend it, if not then wait out for a sale, it’s worth it.
Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.arcteryx.com/Product.aspx?EN/Mens/Jackets/Gamma-MX-Jacket
MSRP: $300 Cdn
Click here to buy it on sale