Review: Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody

Hybrid Insulated Jacket
Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody
$400, 12 oz./340g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXXL, women’s XXS-XXL
moosejaw.com

Who expected the overnight temp would drop nearly to freezing and the wind would blow 30 mph through our campsite on our first morning in southern Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyonin April? Well, I didn’t when I reserved that permit months earlier—but we all did when we saw the forecast immediately before the trip. So I packed my new Cerium Hoody and it proved the perfect antidote to unseasonably cold mornings.

It kept me warm over just a lightweight, short-sleeve T-shirt and a midweight long-sleeve top on chilly mornings in Aravaipa—where we didn’t get direct sunlight until mid-morning. The new Cerium Hoody performs just as well as its identical predecessor, called the Cerium LT Hoody, did for me at many past backcountry camps, including on a mid-September morning in the low 40s Fahrenheit at a windblown and unprotected site at 10,500 feet in Titcomb Basin, in Wyoming’s Wind River Range; and on mornings in the mid-20s in The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park in the first week of March. In both of those cases, I wore it over a short-sleeve T-shirt and a midweight long-sleeve top.


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The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody.
The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody.

Every time I’ve pulled this jacket on, it has felt like an instant injection of warmth through my torso and arms. I have to keep reminding myself it weighs just 12 ounces.

This 2022 update to an Arc’teryx classic remains identical to its previous version, called the Cerium LT Hoody (see my review of that model). For starters, the trim fit provides enough space for a couple of base layers underneath, allows full freedom of movement—important when wearing it as a middle layer on deep-cold adventures like ice climbing and mountaineering—and easily fits under a shell jacket. Outstanding shoulder articulation paired with enough sleeve length prevents the cuffs from sliding up your forearms when reaching. And Arc’teryx added one men’s size and two women’s sizes.

The Cerium’s high warmth-to-weight ratio—it’s one of the absolute warmest down jackets at this weight that I’ve worn—owes to the responsibly sourced, 850-fill down stuffing in the hood, sleeves, and torso. High-quality down creates more space between feathers, increasing the heat-trapping efficiency, which translates to more warmth per ounce of jacket.

But since water is the enemy of down, flattening feathers and drowning their ability to trap heat, Arc’teryx placed its Coreloft synthetic insulation—a lightweight, breathable, and thermally efficient siliconized polyester yarn that’s compresses well and retains its loft—in areas prone to getting wet: the shoulders, cuffs, chin guard (which gets wet with condensation from your breath), and the armpits.

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The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody.
The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody in Aravaipa Canyon.

The combination of insulation types delivers the benefits of down (warm, light, and compact) and synthetics (retaining heat when damp).

The close-fitting, under-the-helmet hood helps elevate this jacket above many insulation pieces. Popping it up immediately pumps up the warmth. Adjustable using just one drawcord in the back, with an elasticized face opening, it wraps snugly around your head and face to trap heat very efficiently—ensuring the hood stays put even in strong winds. When zipped up, the soft chin guard comes up to the lips, which is nice in chilly temps. The elasticized cuffs and an adjustable hem seal in body heat.

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The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody.
The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody.

The two zippered hand pockets warmed my chilled fingers quickly and have space for three-season gloves and small items like a map and headlamp. The jacket stuffs easily into a stuff sack attached to the zippered inside pocket—no losing this sack—and packs down to barely larger than a liter bottle.

The lightweight and wind-resistant, recycled, 15-denier nylon shell fabric, while durable for its weight, is more susceptible to tears than heavier fabrics. Similarly, the lightweight front zipper, while keeping jacket weight down, raises durability concerns; but a little care in using it can avoid problems. I’ve seen no damage to this jacket’s identical predecessor, the Cerium LT Hoody, in numerous trips over the past six years. And I have seen the Cerium fend off spitting rain showers, thanks in part to a durable, water-repellent (DWR) treatment on the shell fabric.

Some backpackers and others backcountry users will question the value proposition of an expensive, three-season down jacket price. But if a jacket like the Cerium lies within your budget, look at the fit, the construction quality, and most of all, the down-fill rating. You can pick up another 12-ounce insulated for half this price, but it won’t be nearly as warm.

The Verdict

From frosty wilderness campsites on three-season backpacking trips to pulling it on for added warmth while climbing or during your favorite winter activity, the Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody remains one of the top puffy jackets in its weight class for versatility, packability, comfort, and warmth for its weight.

BUY IT NOW

You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase a men’s or women’s Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody at moosejaw.com or arcteryx.com or any item in the Cerium series at arcteryx.com.

See all reviews of outdoor apparel at The Big Outside, including “The 10 Best Down Jackets,” “The Best Gloves for Winter,” “The Best Mittens for Winter,” and “The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry,” as well as “How to Dress in Layers for Winter in the Backcountry” and “12 Pro Tips for Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter.”

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

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