Most die-hard Arc’teryx fans know of or own an Atom hoodie or jacket, the core piece in the family. The Atom SV (now the AR) was the first Arc’teryx jacket I ever owned and I proudly took it with me on a 3-month road trip around America. I basically lived in it for those 90 days and apart from it looking a bit grubby, it withstood the dirt bag test of time and I loved it.
I now own an Atom AR (all round), an LT (light) and the latest addition: the SL (super light). I took the Atom SL with me on a trip to South Africa last year and then more recently to the bouldering area of Fontainebleau. Both two very different climates but the versatility of the jacket kept it relevant in both countries.
South Africa (or Waterval Boven, to be more specific) was hot and dry. We would walk to the crag in shorts and t-shirts in the midday heat and stay out till dark. I wasn’t really sure how hot/cold/muggy/wet it would be here so I had taken a number of different jackets, however it was the Atom SL that I used the most.
I always hate heading out to the crag without a jacket, even when it is 25+ degrees, because I get chilly so easily. The Atom SL weighs just 250g and stuffs up so small I barely noticed it in my pack; it was a no brainer to take it with me every day. I obviously never needed it in the midday African sunshine but by the time dusk came it would start to get cooler. The jacket is lightly insulated with Coreloft and most days I would put it on straight over my climbing top for the walk home, which kept my temperature nicely regulated. The stretchy fleece side panels made the jacket feel comfy next-to-skin after a sweaty day out climbing.
Fontainbleau, the bouldering mecca of Europe was a different story. It has a similar climate to the UK and is cold and damp during the winter months. I basically lived in the Atom SL throughout this trip. It was the perfect midlayer that I could wear under a warmer jacket if I wasn’t moving around much, but was versatile enough to keep wearing and climb in it all day. The cut and lightness of the jacket made it easy to climb and move in and provided me with an extra layer over my jumper enabling me to stay warm throughout the day. Arc’teryx designs these jackets for active people so the cut of the arms, for example, is in an articulated forward position, which makes it easy to move around in.
The Atom SL is now my go-to jacket for all my trips as I know it will fit in perfectly as an outer layer, mid layer or for pottering around at the crag in.