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The cold world of alpine climbing.

The cold world of alpine climbing.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Aphix Hoodie.the Atom LT but different?




Chris Denny pretty much hits on all the high points of the new Arcteryx Aphix Hoodie in the video above.  But you need to listen closely to what Chris is saying and  pay attention to the detailing he points out in the video to get the best impression from that 1 minute Arcteryx ad.

I am the first to tell you, I LOVE this new jacket.  That doesn't happen often.  I see a lot of expensive clothing.  Few pieces really impress me or will I ever climb/ski in very much.  The Aphix has impressed me. And I will be doing both climbing and skiing in this jacket.  Not a common feat for any jackets I own.   But I am also the first to tell you that the Aphix is NOT an Atom LT.  I don't down hill ski in an Atom LT.   It is not warm enough.  I do use a Patagonia Nano Pullover skiing often enough though.  Not being an Atom LT is both good and bad from my perspective depending on how you plan on using the Aphix.

There is no doubt the Aphix was specifically designed for something.   You need to figure out where you can use it best and if it was actually designed for you.  Weird as that might sound.  Unlike the Atom LT which just about anyone can appreciate right from the get-go.  The uneducated (more like anyone paying retail) might well hesitate on the Aphix for a few reasons.

This is what Arcteryz says on the hang tang if you bother to read it.  "Intended use: a very warm mid layer for active use on frigid days."

Other tags say, "made in Bangladesh" and  "this article contians NEW MATERIAL ONLY".  "DWR treated for stand alone use."  Seriously.    Made in a Middle East sweat shop by some really poor folk may be, but no recycled Primealoft Eco,  milk bottles or pillows here!



"Lightweight insulated hoodie that can be used as a stand alone piece or as a cold weather mid layer. Inset panels of stretch fabric under the arms stop just above the hip for extended range of motion without compromising warmth. Stitched insulation is radiant Coreloft™ that traps heat. Well suited to cold dry conditions. Dropped hem positions jacket for maximum core protection; collar and hand pockets are insulated. Proficient at warmth and weather resistance."

From Arcteryx:

Technical Features
  • Breathable
  • Insulated
  • Compressible and packable
  • Wind resistant
Design
  • Stretchy side panels
Patterning
  • Articulated patterning for unrestricted mobility
  • Gusseted underarms
Hood Configuration
  • Insulated hood
Zippers & Fly Configuration
  • Webbing zipper pulls
  • Full front zip with insulated wind flap
  • Metal zipper pull on main zip
Cuff & Sleeves Configuration
  • Stretchy cuffs  (ya, not really)
Hem Configuration
  • Drop back hem
  • Adjustable hem drawcord
Pocket Configuration
  • Internal chest pocket
  • Two hand pockets with zippers

But the REAL question is,  "What specifically was the Aphix designed for?"

Arcteryx sez:

Style:
 
Funny how Arcteryx has finally adopted the term "sweater".
http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2010/12/climbing-sweater.html
 
Activity:

But I do see how the Aphix would be a good ski sweater.

Slim fit with a longer body and arms.  All seem to be perfect for under a shell.

Atom LT Hoody compared to a Aphix Hoody?

Atom LT, Men's Large  416g / 14.5oz
Aphix, Men's Large  540g / 18.5oz

In a nutshell Dane sez:

* Aphix is longer (body and arms) than Atom
* Aphix is a slightly trimmer fit than Atom
* Aphix is more breathable than the Atom
* Aphix is NOT as stretchy as the Atom
* Aphix is 80g Coreloft, the Atom LT is 60g Coreloft

More from Arcteryx:
"At the heart of the Arc'teryx Men's Aphix Insulated Hoodie lies Coreloft insulation.  This jacket compresses down easily so as not to waste valuable pack space, and side stretch panels give you ultimate mobility so you can reach for holds or reach out to plant a pole in deep powder."
  • Coreloft synthetic insulation is lightweight, and the insulation compresses and regains its loft quickly so you won't have to worry about cold spots after tightly packing this jacket
  • DWR coating shrugs off light moisture and precipitation so you can depend on this hoodie as a stand-alone jacket or a cold-weather mid-layer
  • Stretch side panels allow full range of motion at your core and underarms so you can reach or stretch without feeling held back
  • Cuffs stretch over light gloves in order to seal out the elements (good luck with that as there is no stretch in the cuffs)
  • Insulated hand pockets   (the collar is not lined)

Aphix shell is: 40D nylon, lightweight, wind resistant mini ripstop taffeta

Atom Lt shell is: Luminara™—Stretch nylon ripstop fabric with wind and water resistant, air permeable PU coating and DWR finish.

Atom shell stretches.  The Aphix shell does not.  It is a big deal in these weight jackets.  And the Luminara is likely one reason the Atom Series is so durable.  I am not expecting much of a "mini ripstop taffeta".    There is a spin on the language,  "mini ripstop taffeta "  :-)  Who exactly in the Arcteryx marketing department came up with that copy after a long lunch?  Either way don't expect the taffeta on the Aphix to shrug off the abrasion like the Atom Series of garments do.  The Aphix  you'll rip holes in under similar circumstances when you snag things on the shell.  But the taffeta of the Aphix will make it easier to layer over.   The slick taffeta shell is a definite bonus if you are going to use it that way.

Aphix is 80g Coreloft, the Atom LT is 60g Coreloft

Vents on the Atom LT are made from Polartec® Power Stretch®
Vents on the Aphix are made from Helius™ a lightweight, breathable, stretchy, plain knit textile

Most importantly I think is Helius seems to breath better than Polartec Power stretch.  But not because the Helius is a more breathable material it is not.  Simply because the Helius is a lot thinner.
Likely 1/2 the thickness of the Polartec material used.

All the photos above and below are of the Aphix Hoodie


The Aphix has 216 square inches of the vent material, from your wrist all the way down your side to just short of belly button level.  36"x 6".  The Atom LT uses 156 square inches of vent material, arm pit down to waist level. 24"x 6.5"

The model's pants are the bright blue here.



Imagine the width of the stretch material under the arm on the Aphix from this picture. 




There is a BIG difference in the amount of surface area covered with a breathable fabric on these two jackets.  Fully 1/3 of the length of each arm is a breathable soft knit, Helius™, on the Aphix.  The Atom Lt is full insulated 60g Coreloft in the arms.   

Same side vents (dark blue material) on the jacket version of the Aphix


What ever the Aphix gained in warmth with 20g more of Coreloft on the Atom LT it also gained even more in ability to vent/breath by the extra square inches in venting material.  I noticed the lack of insulation in the arms during my first use of the Aphix on a mid 30F degree day.  It is easily noticeable just how much better the Aphix breathes than an Atom.  If for no other reason that there is a lot more surface area not as well insulated on the Aphix.   Great from technical climbing or a skin track...not so good for skiing down hill imo.    Unless of course you added a shell.

For warmth?  Until you cut the wind with a shell...it is going to be a toss up imo between an Atom LT and a Aphix.   Add a shell and no question the Aphix will be warmer.

The Aphix's side panel stretch insulation is likely more wind resistant than the Atom's Power Stretch.   But the Aphix material is also likely half the actual thickness of the Power Stretch.  In the real world I find the Aphix material breathes better.  And you'll feel the out side temperature/wind through it easier.   There is more breathable material in the surface area of the Aphix to "breath better".  Your arms aren't likely to ever over heat in the Aphix.   The "hard finish" of the Helius material also seems to shed snow and rain better than the Power Stretch.  But that observation is really a push.  That difference is slight. 



By comparison the hoods are the same in size and with no adjustments.  They work well enough with helmets.  But it could easily be done better.   They do make a wonderfully warm and puffy collar though when fully zipped up and the hood down.  



Arcteryx makes the hoods all the other makers are judged by.  I have to wonder how they can make such terribly fitting stand alone collars on their other jackets?  Seriously, what is up with that?



The jacket's bottom hem draw strings are the same.   Two, one on either side.    Same nicely done  wind baffles behind the main zipper on both jackets.   The front zipper isn't.  The Aphix zipper locks in place any where along the zipper line.  The Atom's intentionally does not lock.




Pockets are pretty much the same.  Two on the outside that are zippered, with one sided, back of the hand, hand warmer liners.  And one internal chest pocket that is zippered.  The Aphix has sewn zipper pulls.

Really long sleeves, no stretchy cuff on the Aphix.  Be sure to catch that typo in the Arcteryx ad if you are buying sight unseen because you'll be disappointed if you did not.  Atom Lt has a normal  length sleeve and nice stretch cuffs with a snug fit at the cuff on most anything.  I like the Aphix cuffs but Arcteryx missed the detailing there imo.  If  I am wearing gloves the cuffs just bunch up against the glove,  may be not the best seal on a jacket/glove combo, unless you have a shell and Velcro cuffs over the top of both.    My answer without a glove is to simply roll them up.  Yes, I roll them up, seems to work OK as hard as that might be to believe.    Not the best solution on a expensive, nicely tailored jacket.  If they had been stretchy even that long they would be golden, but they are not stretchy.  Not a deal breaker but annoying enough everyone seems to have already noticed.   The jacket is good enough though that some are simply having the jacket custom tailored with a new cuff.  Costly at best, ugly at worse!   No matter your ape index you won't pull these cuffs off your wrists once spread out to full extension.



The jacket 's hem is really long front and back.   Below the tail bone in the back.  Long enough in the front that I worry about ripping the zipper out skiing.  Thankfully the elastic on the hem allows you to move the hem up a bit.  But a snap and reinforcement there would have eliminated that worry.   I have no doubt the Aphix was intentionally designed that way.  Seems I am obviously missing  exactly what this jacket was specifically designed for.  Under a shell most likely.  And I do really like this jacket.  But it will seldom go under a shell when I am using it.   It fits my needs well as a stand alone climbing piece in my "action suit".     The over all fit in the body is almost perfect for me.  That might have you ignoring the few unmistakable nits on the design.

It works as a stand alone garment so well in the right conditions climbing.  May be even better than the Atom LT.   But, thankfully,  it is not an full blown Atom SV either.  So may be some of the Aphix design details are simply lost on me.  And likely almost everyone else.  Which begs the obvious question?

The long hem does make it really easy to tuck into a harness and keep it there though.  I like that.  The slim fit on the Aphix is perfect for me.  Slimmer than the Atom LTs' cut for sure.   The fit is what makes the other small issues, "small" for me.   I really like the, hybrid "heavy sweaters" available in combos of  60/80/100g/m synthetic insulation weights with the more breathable fabrics sewn in where appropriate. 

Aphix is one of the best yet even all the while being just a tiny bit funky.  But then the Atom LT wasn't designed to use as the top of your cold weather "action suit" either.  The Aphix might even do the job better.  My bet is it will.

If you like what you have read and want to know more check out the detailed pictures and reviews on line here and else where:

http://www.arcteryx.com/Product.aspx?EN/Mens/Mid_Layer-Sweaters/Aphix-Hoody

I'll be writing about the Aphix again.

My guess is  Arcteryx will clean this jacket up a bit at some point.  They will shorten the body some, fix the cuffs and shorten the sleeves.  Not everything I'd want in a jacket that I climb or ski in.  I'd like a slightly shorter body, a sturdy snap closure to beef up the zipper.   Atom LT cuffs added to the long sleeves and some lining at the collar for my chin.  A slightly bigger hood with some adjustment would be on my wish list.   How about moving those pockets up 5 inches or so to clear a harness completely or ditch them all together for Napoleon pockets instead since I am asking?

So before they mess this jacket up...my suggestion is if you like climbing in an Atom LT...check the Aphix out before Arcteryx changes it drastically or simply ditches it completely.

9 comments:

Evan said...

I can't help notice the repition of 'how well' this peice pairs with a hard shell. Despite having given it a weaker and more rigid face fabric (+DWR), they certainly imply that you shouldn't expect too much from it.
It saddens me that the diversification of Dead Bird offerings in the last three cycles hasn't led to more actual innovation; if you're inclined to ignore that publicity rubbish with ACMG as I am. Lots of new products and a few new categories for them has taken some of the wow out of their R&D. Sure laminating EVERYTHING (properly ;) is usually good, but when was the last time we saw something like the warp-strength harness, Alpha SV 3D gTex (which sucked btw- I never wear mine), or Naos load transfer disc? Core loft isn't better than primaloft. The phase line is just underarmour for climbers. The license with Gore is dragging the FL line down. Hybrid MX prices are just baffling.

The bird needs to get Salomon off their backs before they pull a TNF by accident.

Dane said...

TNF? Ha, ha. Haven't bought anything from them since they refused a simple return from my wife of all people. The one person who has never taken advantage of anyone. But I'll never buy another item from them because of it. I like much of what Arcteryx is trying to do. Just can't justify their retail pricing when you make a comparison to what else is available else where at times.

shakil mohammad said...

SPM control panel - I can't help find the repition of 'how well' this peice couples with a difficult spend. Despite having given it a sluggish and more firm experience material (+DWR), they certainly suggest that you shouldn't anticipate too much from it.
It saddens me that the variation of Deceased Fowl promotions in the last three periods hasn't led to more real innovation; if you're prepared to neglect that advertising junk with ACMG as I am. Plenty of new items and a few new groups for them has taken some of the wow out of their R&D.

Jessy said...

Wow. I like this jacket. Perfect for skiing. Your post is informative with all the details I need. Thanks for sharing.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Bangladesh - "Middle East"?! Hope your partners don't let you do the navigation in a whiteout! ;-)

morgan said...

i get the sense from this that the Aphix has been designed strictly for the "frontcountry" - urban areas.

Arc'teryx caught on quickly that people were wearing the Atom LT as an everyday jacket (see them everywhere in Vancouver, for instance), and so designed an urban jacket with some Atom essence.

The fit, the design of the cuffs/hem/etc, the significantly more subtle logo hits all point to a jacket marketed squarely at the urban style market.

Not that there is anything wrong with that - nobody else is producing urban wear as good - but it's a strange comparison to make between two jackets designed for entirely different purposes/markets.

Dane said...

I would disagree. I don't think the Aphix was ever intended as a town coat (funky long sleeves and tail as a indicator) and makes a great/direct comparison to the Atom LT easy in use.

adam said...

great writeup overall! I just purchased and Aphix after trying on the Atom LT, and I really like it so far. I'll use it for both snowboarding (under shell for colder days), and around town. I love the fit too.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Aphix has a stronger face material, and the ripstop on the Atom LT is only 20D.

As far as the length, I really like it as I am tallish (5'11" with a long torso). If it was shorter, my belt would be exposed. A no-go if you carry a concealed weapon.

I do use mine as a "do everything" jacket. As Morgan said, the subdued logo is nice for this purpose.