Arc'Teryx Atom LT Jacket Review

by Emily Wednesday, December 14th 2011

At 1:30 in the morning in early October I woke up to nearly freezing temperatures in the back of my car parked at Castro Park, in Douglas Arizona. I crawled out of my sleeping bag, desperately pulled on thicker socks and shoes, and stumbled out under the street light to meet a tiny crowd of cyclists getting ready for the longest event of the Cochise Classic, a 234-mile ride down the highways circling Bisbee, skirting along the Santa Ritas, up through the Dragoons, the Dos Cabezas, the Chiricahuas, and back to Bisbee. It's a gorgeous and classic southern Arizona tour. This little group of fifteen brave started from Castro Park and would take 11 hours or many more to ride the double-century route; it would take me roughly 4 hours just to drive the whole thing. So they were starting early, and we were freezing our butts off waiting for the national anthem at two in the morning. Or rather, the cyclists in their spandex were freezing their butts off.

I was cozy in my Arcteryx Atom Light jacket. The coldest you can be is just standing around outside, and I was pleasantly surprised to be pretty toasty at 30 degrees. Being October, the day of course warmed up to balmy tank-top weather, but after we placed our hands over our hearts for the anthem, and watched the fifteen riders pedal away down the street onto the black pre-dawn highways, I went back to my car and slept in my jacket until the start of the next event, after which I stripped it off and drove around the route to take photos of the cyclists for Tail Winds magazine.

Arc'teryx Atom LT Jacket

I pulled the jacket out again to watch the dawn start of the 108-mile El Tour de Tucson ride. With hundreds of riders, the El Tour start is not nearly as intimate as our little crew huddling in the middle of the night in Castro Park, but nonetheless, it's amazing to be in the energy of hundreds of people about to pedal to every corner of our city. Loudspeakers blared music down the neighborhood to rouse the riders awake, and people stamped their feet in the first cold Tucson morning.

El Tour always seems to be accompanied by the first signs of fall, and now into December I'll find myself wearing the Atom Light every day. It's a perfect jacket for the transition of seasons, light enough and packable enough that it's not oppressive and can go everywhere--like in a tiny summit pack for cold belays out in Cochise Stronghold. I've always been afraid to bring my down jacket up on a climb, for fear of snagging the fabric on a rock and vomiting feathers everywhere. As sad as I would be to get a hole in my pretty lavender Atom Light, the synthetic fill will stay together until I can patch it back up. And the fabric itself is somehow nearly as light as the ultrasil shell on my down jacket, but much tougher and more abrasion resistant, so I'm less likely to tear it up in the first place. Stretch fleece panels on the sides give it a slimmer, cozy, and more breathable fit. Now that it's Cochise season, I can't wait to find some chilly rock ledge to hang out on.

Gear

Variant Jacket

by Dana Davis Tuesday, December 13th 2011

The Variant Jacket has been one of our most popular jackets of the season. With synthetic insulation sewn into the front panels and Power Stretch fleece on the back, sides and arms, it falls into the Synthetic Insulation category that Charles discussed a couple weeks ago. It’s available for both men and women.

We asked Summit Hut owner, Dana Davis, and our Speedway Store Manager, Traci, to give us their impressions of the jacket thus far.

Dana

Variant Jacket
My family and I went horseback riding for a couple hours Thanksgiving Day weekend and it was the perfect piece to wear!

At a first glance this jacket might look a little funky (it is a hybrid of Power Stretch fleece and a lightly insulated vest) but I like the look and I like the performance and versatility even better.

The Variant is a great weight and warmth for many parts of the country but seems to be ideal for the slightly chilly winter days (and evenings) in Tucson. The black Power Stretch sleeves truly conform to a body in motion in addition to accommodating many different body types. I have broad shoulders, long arms, and a narrower waist; it is hard for me to get a slimmer fit without feeling confined and uncomfortable- the Variant is perfect. There is also enough stretch in the sleeves to wear it comfortably over another long sleeve item. The vest portion is great for adding extra warmth over your core but without adding bulk. I think this will be a great layering piece for under a shell for skiing and other snowy activities and yet also a great standalone jacket to take to the movie theater.

I recently took this jacket with me when I traveled to the Osprey Packs facilities in Vietnam. It turned out to be a great travel jacket (lightweight, compact and versatile) even though I never actually wore it when I was outdoors. It was warm and rainy in Vietnam and I never wore more than short sleeves with my Effusion jacket. When did I actually wear it? For more than 20 hours straight when traveling (each way) on the sufficiently cooled airplanes and airports! It was comfy, stretchy, a good weight and I was “out like a light” on all flights!

Variant Jacket

I was disappointed to have not used it hiking and biking in Vietnam so I have been anxious to put it to the test back here in Arizona. Unfortunately up until recently the weather has been fairly warm the last couple months and while the nights have been chilly, I have not used it for more than a brisk walk during the day. I did take it out a short night run and while it was perfect for the first 10 minutes it felt too warm shortly after. For me this will be my “go to” jacket on warmer fall and winter days and a good layering piece for cold weather sports. I love that in addition to being a outerwear jacket that I can also wear it indoors in lieu of a sweater as well.

Traci

I have accumulated a few jackets over the years, which seems to be a common occurrence in Tucson. Is it hot, hotter, rainy or cold? And then when you add hiking, running, biking, running errands around town, or overall outdoor activities to the mix the decisions become a little tougher on a jacket. I want something can cover the spectrum of all my needs.

Variant Jacket

I took the Variant Jacket up Mount Wrightson. I wanted something insulated but that was light and packable. I started at the trailhead at 6 am and had a brisk breeze coming off the mountain. The insulation in the front of the piece is outstanding. It gives you the option of having some insulation without adding a ton of bulk to the jacket. As we continued to hike steadily uphill, the stretch in the Polartec sleeves was great because the Variant jacket moves with you during your activity. The thumb holes are a nice addition for the piece. Especially since I opted to not bring gloves, they gave a bit more protection on my hands. After some hiking I did shed the layer, and packed it down into my pack.  When we hit the saddle, we stopped for a snack and I pulled my jacket out so I didn’t get a chill while resting. I could feel a slight breeze coming through the Polartec, but the extra insulation in the front made the difference. I truly appreciated how the jacket was able to be packed down and I didn’t have to worry about it.

I find myself grabbing this piece because of the technical and fashion aspect of the jacket.

Gear

Rosewood Point and North Rosewood Point

by Charles Friday, December 9th 2011


pic 1 
Driving to the trailhead.

Rain and clouds... The perfect day for a hike! To enjoy the somewhat rare grey skies I decided to hike up to Rosewood Point. My reward for braving the weather was getting to watch clouds swirling around Table Mountain and The Cleaver - different from the usual views in Pima Canyon!

Rosewood Point is a highpoint above the eastern cliffs of Pima canyon. Rosewood Point, and nearby North Rosewood Point, offer great views of Pima Canyon and surrounding locations including Pusch Peak, Table Mountain and The Cleaver.

Parking for this hike is the Iris O. Dewhirst Pima Canyon Trailhead located at the end of Magee Road.

This hike is in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness area – two restrictions to be aware of: travel more than 400 feet off trail is forbidden January thru April (this hike is partially off-trail - Rosewood Point is 'closed' during that time period) and dogs are not permitted on the trail (except seeing-eye dogs or handi-dogs).

From the parking area take the Pima Canyon Trail. At 1 mile the trail enters Pima Canyon and at 1.8 miles the trail turns southeast and begins to parallel a small canyon (you will hike up this canyon to get close to the saddle below Rosewood Point). Stay on the Pima Canyon Trail and cross the canyon - after a few minutes look for a faint off-trail route on the right (approximately mile 2) - there are a number of faint trails in this area but you should be able to use any of them. Hike (roughly) south towards the bottom of the small canyon via the path of least resistance.

pic 2
A view of the clouds moving over and around The Cleaver - taken from near where I left the Pima Canyon Trail.

Once in the canyon bottom cairns begin to appear that may help you find the easiest path up the canyon. As you get higher in the canyon the cairns become less frequent and the drainage will begin to turn to the east. Make your best guess about the location of the trail and work south up the hillside to the saddle.

pic 3
Table Mountain thru the rusted barbed wire fence at the saddle.

The saddle is a great spot to take a break and enjoy the views. Several faint trails leave the saddle and take you up thru the cliffs. Above the cliffs it is an easy hike to Rosewood Point. Enjoy the views from Rosewood Point - but leave time to hike to North Rosewood Point.

pic 4
Looking up Pima Canyon - a few minutes before reaching Rosewood Point.

pic 5
Rosewood Point with Table Mountain in the background.

North Rosewood Point is another high point to the northwest that is just a few minutes of hiking from Rosewood Point. The views from North Rosewood Point include an interesting look at the cliffs on the east side of the Pima Canyon.

pic 6
Looking down Pima Canyon from North Rosewood Point.

There are a number of possible ways back to the parking area from Rosewood Point. Following the ridgeline to the west is suggested as an interesting route in "The Santa Catalina Mountains: A Guide to the Trails and Routes" by Pete Cowgill and Eber Glendening (see the Rosewood Point description for details). But watching the rain roll across Tucson convinced me to take the easiest route down - back the same way I came up! This hike totals  just over 7 miles.

Rosewood Point Map

Trails

Top 10 Holiday Gift Ideas

by frank Monday, December 5th 2011

Here at Summit Hut, we are known for our amazing selection of gear, a wall filled with shoes and a staff that offers tremendous service. But something you might not know about us – we have one of the most unique selections of toys, games, ornaments and treats in Tucson around the holidays!

If you’ve ever stopped by either of our Tucson stores around the holidays, you were sure to notice the amazing job that our merchandiser, Carolyn, does with our displays. This year both stores feature two Christmas trees filled with amazing ornaments. One tree is all locally inspired products.

Our second tree features some great outdoor-related ornaments, including skiing Santa and glittery tents, and more!

Through all of this, and our regular stock of incredible outdoor gear, I have compiled my top-10 list of gifts for the holidays. No guarantees, but I can’t imagine anyone on my list that wouldn’t love something from this list!

10. Strider Bikes – Shopping for the little ones? These bikes are built for 18 month olds to 5 year olds and teach children balance and coordination. Plus they come in really awesome colors!

Strider Bikes

9. Bacon Flavored Candy Canes – Need I say more?

Bacon Flavored Candy Canes 

8. Life Is Good Gear – We just started carrying Life Is Good again, and we’ve got shirts, mugs, pajamas, hats, stickers and other amazingly optimistic goods!

Life Is Good Shirts 

7. Acorn Slippers – Who couldn’t use a new pair of slippers for the holidays?

Acorn Slippers

6.Divide 55 pack I just really wanted an excuse to post this hilarious video again – here’s a few Summit Hutters showing off the awesome pivoting hip belt of this pack – and they’re 20% off through December 31st!

5. Synergy Clothing – This is a great brand that makes really fun and unique clothing – for the “fashionista” on your list!

Synergy Clothing

4. Be Kind To the Earth Ornament – This ornament, from Tucson's Ben's Bells Project, reminds us to be kind to everything and everyone around us – and it looks pretty awesome too!

Ben's Bells Project: Be Kind to the Earth Ornament

3. Inov-8 F-lite 195/230 – ok really, just about any Inov-8 shoe would make a great gift.

F-Lite 230

2. Party Rats – As the packaging says they’re “ideal for night blogging”…well, I write most of my blog posts during the day, but I’m sure I’ll find some other entertaining stuff to do with these little guys!

 P1050266

1. Contour Camera – Because what’s cooler than having 1080p HD video of all the awesome stuff you do with your new gear!?

Contour GPS Camera 

For other great holiday gift ideas, be sure to check out our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide! There are over 100 of
our favorite gifts for the season as well as 18 special Holiday Deals valid through December 31st.

Did my list not cover your favorites? Share your wish list with us.

Gear

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!