Like all the products in Arcteryx’s LEAF line, the Cold WX has been designed around feedback received from members of the Canadian Special Operations Command(CANSOFCOM). This jacket is specifically designed for use in military operations in cold, high alpine altittudes. Added to the their line-up in the spring of 2016, Arcteryx describes the COLD WX LT as a windproof, weather resistant, light weight, insulated stand-alone jacket which keeps the wearer warm by trapping warm air close to the body.
Since Arcteryx decided to discontinue their Atom SV about 3 years ago, they introduced the Cold WX LT to bridge the gap between the Atom LT and the Cold WX SV. Utilizing 100g of the same Coreloft fill as the Atom LT, the main difference between the Atom SV and the Cold WX LT is the upgrade in the face fabric from a nylon ripstop fabric to a two layer Gore Windstopper. This breathable outer shell blocks wind and sheds snow and perception and is better equipped to handle abrasion than the Atom SV’s lighter Gossamera nylon face fabric.
In the 1980’s, in response to the US military’s request for a down alternative that didn’t degrade in thermal performance when wet, numerous companies began rethinking insulation technology. As a result, there is now a wide variety of thermal insulation products from numerous manufactures to choose from, and at the top of this list are Coreloft, Primaloft, Polartec, and Full Range.
The effectiveness of Coreloft technology in essence, is due to the of millions of extremely thin fibers which provides insulation by trapping body heat in tiny air pockets that exist between these fibers. The thinness of the fibers allows not only for more trapped air in a given amount of insulation, but also allows for greater compression and unlike other cheaper fills, it is able to regain its loft very quickly after being compressed.
(A step up in warmth from the Cold WX LT, the Cold WX SV uses Climashield which offers a higher level of thermal efficiency than Coreloft with a better clo rating per square inch for the same amount of insulation. Both Climashield and Coreloft are hypo-allergenic, moisture resistant and unlike down, remains effective at keeping you warm even when wet.)
- 100g Coreloft™- has a very high warmth to weight ratio; compact and stowable meaning that takes up minimal space in your pack when compressed and easily regains loft.
- 10″ x 7.5″ External chest pockets – These side entry pockets are located high enough allow access to its contents while wearing a plate carrier and are fleece lined making them ideal hand warming pockets. There is a media pass-through port as well allowing you route your headphones or comm headset wires though to your Mp3 player or radio stowed in this pocket letting you operate your device without having to expose your hands to the elements. The zipper opening of these pockets are tucked under a half inch zipper guard which helps deflect snow and rain from being blown into the pockets.
- 6″ x 6″ Zippered internal chest pocket – This pocket is also equipped with media ports to allow internal routing of headphone or communications cables. I kind of wonder why Arcteryx decided to omit the zipper pull on this zipper closure though, particularly since the zipper is quite small and can be hard to manipulate particularly while wearing gloves.
- Two 4″ x 6″Upper arm zip pockets – Designed as accessible storage compartments when worn with personal protective equipment, these pockets are great for keeping things like your smart phone, credentials or other similarly shaped items. These pockets also feature an internal gear keeper which can be used to dummy chord some of your smaller items to prevent them from accidentally falling out.
- Vertically routed hem drawcords – Unlike most drawchord designs that cinch horizontally, this design is intended to minimize interference with belt worn gear. Additionally any excess shock chords are pulled up into the jacket instead of hanging out at the sides as they do on most jackets. The hem of the jacket dips down about two inches lower at the rear to keep rain and snow off you butt.
- 4″ x 4.5″ Velcro® loop panel – Allows the attachment of IFF patches or morale patches. At the top of each of these Velcro panels is a small molded rubber loop which is designed as a retention ring for attaching the V-Lite™ string to prevent accidentally losing it.
- Micro Fleece-lined collar – The inner part of the collar is fleece-lined for added comfort on the back of your neck when the jacket is zipped up fully.
- Elastic Cuffs – These extremely low profile cuffs’ elastic design allow them to be stretched over a pair of gloves and works with the rest of the jacket’s design to trap that valuable warm air right where it is needed.
- Articulated Torso and Elbows – This design allows for full range of motion and prevents the wrists and lower back from being exposed to the elements.
- Gore Windstopper® – This snow shedding fabric is constructed from a proprietary blend of soft, quiet, breathable and elastic fabrics. The Windstopper® membrane is then bonded between a high performance stretch polyester fabric on one side, and a quick-drying polyester material on the other.
- Fleece-lined underarms – This soft fleece lining at the pits provide extra breathability and comfort.
- N40p WINDSTOPPER® 2L
- Coreloft 100g (insulation)
- 15Dx15D Ripstop taffeta (lining)
Size and Fit
I am 5.7″ and about 172lbs, I typically wear a size medium jacket. Arcteryx garments are true to size, and the Cold WX LT jacket is no different. I found the overall fit of the Cold WX to be quite roomy and unrestrictive without being overly ‘puffy’.
Conclusion and Insights
The overall profile of the Cold WX LT (non-hooded version) reminds me a bit of their old Atom AF jacket. As a general rule, LEAF items tend to fit a bit roommier than their civilian counterparts and the Cold WX LT is even more so than the Atom. The reason for this is that the Atom is designed to be a mid layer while the Cold WX is an insulated outer garment. Being a terminal layer, it is not designed to be worn under a Gortex shell and doing so would seriously diminish both garments breathability. I did try throwing the Alpha LT over the Cold WX and noticed the hem of the Cold WX hangs down slightly lower at the front and it quickly begins to feel slightly suffocating.
It’s winter here right now at about 34°F (1°C) plus wind chill and even in just a long sleeve T-shirt the garment provides more than enough windproofness without being overly stuffy. I am normally cold but warm up easily as soon as I start moving and I found that the Cold WX LT is able to keep me in an optimal temperature range regardless of my activity level. The Cold WX LT provides you with the maximum breathability, the comfort of a soft mid-layer and although not designed to replace a designated hardshell like the Alpha, the Gore Windstopper face fabric gives you ample weather resistance to nearly everything but a torrential downpour in one garment.
The Cold WX LT is an extremely light, and very comfortable garment. Its roomy design, articulated torso and elbows allows you full freedom of movement for enhanced performance in a wide range of activities through some of even the most extreme weather conditions.
At 1 lb 5.3 oz (605 g) The Cold WX is extremely light and can be easily rolled down to just slightly larger than my Alpha LT making it very packable, it can be made even smaller by using a stuff/dry sack.
The Cold WX LT is available in both the hoodie and jacket versions and in Black, Wolf Gray, Crocodile and Multicam colors. I did notice that the croc color has a slightly different hue compared to the croc of the Alpha LT.
If you live somewhere like Montana or Alaska or other places that gets really cold with winters lasting for as much as 5-6 months of the year, or if you have a need for a garment that will keep you warm over minimal layers, you’d be hard pressed to find a more capable garment than the LEAF Cold WX. At a price of $279usd ($349usd for the multicam one), the Cold WX LT Jacket is on the lower end of price range for Arcteryx products and if you are a LEO or active duty Military, you can take another 20% off that price when you order directly from LEAF.