Update March 6, 2018 – A preliminary review of the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody was originally published here in November 2016. That review has been replaced by this more up-to-date version, which is based on extensive field use.
The Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody is a high-loft synthetic insulated hooded jacket with a highly water-resistant, seam-taped outer shell. Its highly durable fabric makes it a good choice for resort skiing, use around town, and working outside in cold weather. Due to its lower overall warmth and low warmth to weight ratio, other jackets and parkas perform better for human-powered outdoor activities when saving weight and/or being toasty warm.
- Large, helmet-compatible hood with laminated brim stiffener and cord adjustments for temperature and volume adjustment;
- Two interior stash pockets;
- Two handwarmer pockets;
- One exterior chest pocket;
- Fit type: hip length, regular fit (as opposed to slim / athletic).
- Review Sample Size: M;
- Back length: 31.5 in (80 cm);
- Manufacturer’s Claimed Weight: 25.9 oz (735 g);
- Insulation: Arc’teryx Coreloft 140 gsm (4.1 osy);
- Shell Fabric: Gore Windstopper (Gore Thermium starting Fall 2016) – 70 denier main fabric, 80 denier reinforcements.
Description of Field Testing
We tested the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody in mild winter conditions at temperatures above 10 deg F (-12 deg C). Our activities included done-in-a-day trips (alpine and ice climbing, ski touring, and resort skiing) and one overnight trip to a remote cabin in Alaska’s Chugach Mountain Range.
Both testers (myself and Luc) are 6 ft (1.8 m) tall and weigh 150-160 lb (68-73 kg).
I used the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody for winter ice and mixed climbing. I found it to be too light (not warm enough) to be a versatile parka for multi-day trips. A warmer parka would be a better choice for multi-day trips because a user needs to stay warm while stationary for longer periods of time.
Luc found the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody warm enough for day trips and resort skiing simply because he was moving continuously. When donning the jacket at short breaks, the light insulation was plenty to stave off a chill.
Like all windproof synthetic insulated parkas we tested, the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody is intended to be used as an insulating layer for stationary activities (e.g., around town, sledding, general winter use) or low output activities like resort skiing. The low air permeable fabrics make it too hot for high output activities unless it’s frigid (perhaps below 0 deg F / -18 deg C). To increase the versatility of the jacket, we wish Arc’teryx would increase the amount of insulation from 140 gsm to 180-200 gsm so it could be warm enough for overnight trips in winter.
The Gore Windstopper (which will change to Gore Thermium, which is more water resistant, in the fall) outer shell is highly water resistant and seam-taped. As a result, this is one of the most storm-resistant insulated jackets we’ve tested. The Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody is virtually impervious to wind, rain, and snow.
The highly weather-resistant shell fabric limits breathability of the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody. Thus, the jacket is suitable as an active layer only in extremely cold conditions.
The Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody is the toughest synthetic insulated jacket we’ve tested. Its 70 denier main fabric and 80 denier reinforcements are burly! This fabric weight seems excessive for most lightweight hiking, climbing, and skiing applications. That said, it offers a level of durability that will protect the shell in some situations that may be of interest to the backcountry traveler. For example, the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody should hold up well when thrashing through thick brush, hauling a load of firewood back to camp, or scrambling and scraping against mountain rock.
The Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody does not have a minimalist feature set. It offers five pockets (two handwarmer pockets set high above a waist belt, two large inside stash pockets, and a chest pocket). In addition, a large (helmet-compatible) four-point adjustable hood and a roomy “expedition” fit allow for layering over any reasonable multi-layer clothing system.
Our only complaint with the features is the chest pocket. We felt that it should be insulated better so it can keep electronics, sunscreen, and other small essentials warm in cold temperatures.
Our men’s medium Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody weighed 25.4 oz. (720 g), which is 3.4 oz (96 g) more than the Patagonia DAS. The Patagonia DAS is also quite weatherproof, but uses a lighter shell fabric and more insulation.
Strengths & Limitations
- Highly durable exterior fabric;
- Highly weather resistant;
- Outstanding fit, finish, and construction quality.
- Low warmth to weight ratio (due to high weight of shell fabric);
- Breathability inhibited by weatherproof shell fabric laminate.
Review Rating: Above Average
The Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody is a durable and weather-resistant synthetic insulated parka. We hoped that this jacket would be warmer for its weight – perhaps the most important performance metric for those of us interested in keeping our pack weight down on multi-day trips. But Arc’teryx spends the weight of this jacket on a durable shell fabric, instead. As such, we find the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody best suited for done-in-a-day winter activities (e.g., resort skiing comes to mind).
Many other synthetic insulated parkas in the same weight class are much warmer for their weight and perhaps better suited for multi-day trips where weight is an important consideration. However, impeccable construction quality and a highly weather-resistant and durable shell set the Arc’teryx apart from this crowded apparel genre – but only slightly. So we rate it “Above Average” – conceding that if durability and weather resistance are higher priorities than warmth or weight for you, you may very well consider the Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody to be among the best in its class.
Where To Buy
This review is part of a comprehensive State of the Market survey of synthetic insulated jackets that has been ongoing for the past two years. Included in this survey:
- Arc’teryx Kappa Hoody Review
- Patagonia Nano Air Hoody Review
- Outdoor Research Uberlayer Review
- Rab Xenon X Review
- Montbell Thermawrap Guide Review
- Rab Nimbus Review
- Patagonia Nano Air Light Review
- LLBean Primaloft Packaway Review
- Arc’teryx Proton LT Review
- Black Diamond Heat Treat Hoody Review
- Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody Review
- Arc’teryx Nuclei FL Jacket Review
- Nunatak Skaha Apex Review
- Montane Spitfire Parka Review
- Arc’teryx Nuclei AR Parka Review
- Patagonia DAS Parka Review (TBA March 25)
- Synthetic Insulated Jackets State of the Market Report (TBA March 25)
The author purchased this jacket with this own funds. Some links are affiliate links, which means if you click through and make a purchase, Backpacking Light gets a small commission on the sale. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps support Backpacking Light’s efforts to publish authoritative and valuable information about lightweight backpacking gear and techniques, inspiring stories and film festivals, and remain an active member of the outdoor industry to promote and protect opportunities for public outdoor recreation.