Last updated: 25-Feb-19
By Luke Jarmey
With the Northern Hemisphere winter fast approaching, kit lockers are rapidly changing to accommodate the lower temperatures and generally less hospitable climate. If you’re anything like me, you still won’t be wearing much more when actually running… Ok, maybe a longer sleeved tee and/or a thin mid layer, but certainly not a proper insulating piece.
However, when on longer, more adventurous runs, especially in the hills and mountains, I do like to don a synthetic, or down, layer during any stop and rest periods, when your temperature can quickly go from hero to zero.
As this insulating jacket will spend most of life scrunched into the corner of your hydration pack, its weight and more importantly, weight-to-warmth ratio is paramount. High quality down still can’t be beaten on that front, but even the fancy stuff with hydrophobic coatings, still can’t compete with the warming properties of synthetic insulation when it gets soaked through. If you regularly run in particularly wet environments, the slight weight penalty of synthetic may be worthwhile.
For me personally, I rarely run when its hammering down outside, and on the occasions that I do, I often have a super lightweight waterproof layer that I can whack over the top of my insulating piece during the stops. So I’m particularly interested in down pieces, which brings me to the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody. Arc’teryx is a name synonymous in the outdoor industry with the highest quality, most cutting edge garments. So, it would be fair to say I was particularly excited to see how their super lightweight down (with a twist) jacket stacked up, especially within the testing environment of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
- 850 fill power European down
- Coreloft™ 80 and 100 synthetic insulation
- Arato™ 10 outer fabric with a DWR finish
- Down Composite Mapping™
- Adjustable low profile and down insulated StormHood™
- Front zip with chin guard and wind flap
- Elastic cuffs
- 2 zipped hand pockets
- 1 internal zipped security pocket
- Stuff Sack
- Elastic cuffs
- Adjustable hem drawcord
- Weight 305g
- RRP: £300
Pros: What’s good about the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
Well, first off, the weight-to-warmth ratio is truly excellent. This likely has something to do with the 850 fill power down. The higher the number, the higher it’s ‘lofting’ and therefore warmth properties. I’ve owned various down jackets from other brands, and some have come in at a similar weight, but are noticeably a step down in warmth. I actually own the synthetic Arc’teryx Atom LT hoody, which is an excellent piece for other reasons, but purely on the warmth front, it weighs 50g more and is nowhere near as insulating.
Interestingly, Arc’teryx could have made this jacket a tad lighter still, but they chose to strategically place ‘Coreloft’ synthetic insulation in those areas particularly prone to moisture. These being, the collar, chin, underarms and cuffs. A worthwhile trade off in my books, but I appreciate that some racers may have preferred that they’d shaved off those extra few grammes by keeping it all down.
Though fit is not as important as in a garment that you actually run in, you still don’t want it to look and feel like a bin bag. Furthermore, a better fit will help maximise the heat retention. This is obviously very subjective, but for me, the size Large fits well. I’m 6ft/183cm with an average to long/torso and slim build and tend to wear size Large in most brands. It feels decently long enough and I like that it’s not too slim cut, so brings versatility to what I can wear it over.
Related to fit, is the anatomical design and articulation of the garment. This is something that Arc’teryx are well known for and the Cerium LT doesn’t disappoint. Waving my arms around and over my head, the jacket hardly rides up and feels very mobile and unrestricted.
It has simple, minimalist design features. No frills here, but this is certainty welcomed in this weight class. Two side pockets of a decent size and an inside breast pocket. The draw strings on the hem are nice to further clinch in that heat, but there aren’t draw strings on the hood.
I’ve thrashed it for a few months now, running in the New Zealand Southern Alps and durability has been excellent. The face material feels studier than other lightweight jackets that I’ve worn and it still looks reasonably new, even after all this use. A few down feathers poke out now and again, but this is common in all down products I’ve worn.
Lastly, the pack ability. Instead of designing the jacket to pack into its own pocket. Arc’teryx have instead included a small bag that’s attached to the inner breast pocket. I like this, as when packing my other down jackets into their own pockets, I’ve always felt like I’ve been really straining the zipper to close it. Furthermore, the small bag gives the jacket some protection inside my bag (which isn’t always as clean as I’d like!). It packs down to a sausage shape, about 25% longer and wider than your standard 1l Nalgene bottle.
Cons: What’s not so good about the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
Not much to report here really. The simple hood is where a compromise has been made to keep the weight down. It doesn’t include any side or fore and aft draw string adjustment, so can’t be micro adjusted. That said, the elastic rim and its overall cut, kept it snug around my face. It’s also rather small and definitely an ‘under the helmet hood’. Not a problem for running where you’re never really ever wearing a helmet. But for those of us that also climb or ski, a helmet-compatible hood would have been nice.
On the fit front, this is subjective, but I found the arms slightly short in relation to the rest of the jacket. They were still fine, but maybe a cm or so longer would have been ideal.
As with all Arc’teryx products, you get what you pay for and they don’t come cheap. Certainly a higher-priced jacket at retail, but generally in line with the competitors who offer similar specs and relatively easy to find a tad discounted.
I was straight up really impressed with the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody. For those of us putting in long runs in cold or mountainous conditions, a jacket with a fantastic warmth to weight ratio is a seriously useful bit of kit for rest periods and safety. And the Cerium LT should be one of your prime candidates when shopping around. Furthermore, for big races in the mountains, desert etc. this should also be a real contender. There are lighter specialist offerings available for racing, but you do lose a bit of versatility.
As I touched on previously, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this jacket for runners in particularly wet environments. If you’re a regular storm runner, take the warmth to weight ratio hit and opt for something fully synthetic. For those of us in cold drier climates, or just a tad rain storm adverse, I would thoroughly recommend this jacket. A nice bonus, is that it doubles up as a very nice casual jacket. Certainly can’t say that for many running garments…
Find out more about Arc’teryx and their product range here.
Other jackets you may want to consider:
PHD Desert Race Pullover – £305
Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody– £280
Salomon X Alp Down Hoody – £250
Montane Featherlite Down Jacket – £200
Rab Zero G Jacket – £375
All images @lukejarmey
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