Try as they might, testers couldn’t so much as scuff the Kevlar-like Gamma: carrying armloads of wood, crashing through pine branches, and even scraping it against granite in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range didn’t leave a scratch. “I’ve worn it more than 50 times by now and it looks out-of-the-box new,” says one tester. Arc’teryx’s Burly double weave (50 percent nylon, 43 percent polyester, 7 percent elastane) lives up to its name—and offers excellent four-way stretch. “There was no resistance as I reached for overhead handholds,” says a tester.
High marks for breathability also kept the Gamma in permanent rotation for cool-weather sweat sessions: The thick, wind-resistant fabric kept testers warm down to the 20s, but a bit of air-permeability had a cooling effect during high exertion. “Passing from Bondcliff to Mt. Bond in the Whites means 700 feet of elevation gain without a switchback, but even with the hood up I didn’t overheat in windy, 40°F weather,” says another tester. Fit is snug but can handle a micropuffy. Climbers loved the standout hood, which is big enough to “fit a motorcycle helmet” but cinches tight without one. The fabric repelled sprinkles, but 15-minute cloudbursts soaked through. Still, superior snow performance made testers declare it a “must-have shell for cold weather.” Downside: weight. $249; 1 lb. 4 oz.; arcteryx.com