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Arc'teryx Gamma MX jacket versus Gamma SV jacket.

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
(I'm cross-posting this from rockclimbing.com)

I've been using my Gamma MX for awhile, and I just received my Gamma SV (thank you SAC!). I figured I should make some observations to answer some questions I myself had prior to buying both. I figure I'm not the only one who will have these questions.

Reference info:

I'm 157lb, 5'8", 41" chest (measured under the arms), 39" chest (measured at the nipples), 32" waist (measured at the bellybutton), 47" around the shoulders. I fit well into "Medium" sizes for most technical outerwear makes. I wear a 16" x 34-35" dress shirt. Both jackets in question are Men's size "M".


The Gamma MX and Gamma SV are cut differently. The torso of the SV is decidedly more tapered and fitted to the "classic climber physique". While the chest circumference of the SV is bigger by a somewhat inconsequential ~0.5", the hem circumference is smaller by ~2"(!) That said, the SV is also cut shorter by ~1".

The overall cut of the MX is a tad bit looser, easily accommodating a mid-weight base + Polartec Thermal Pro fleece. The SV is probably best with at most a mid-weight base + microfleece, but I like it best with just the mid-weight base.


The main component of the Gamma SV is Polartec Power Shield (PPS), while that of the Gamma MX is Polartec Power Shield Lightweight (PPSL). As far as I understand, the discontinuous membrane is the same between the two materials, which implies that wind resistance and breathability should be more-or-less the same. The PPS on the SV has a thicker fleece, about as thick as a microfleece, while the PPSL on the MX is obviously thinner. The face fabric of the PPS on the SV is a rougher weave with thicker fibers, while that of the PPSL on the MX is a much finer weave with somewhat thinner fibers. Whereas I used to think that the claimed Schoeller Dynamic content of the MX was only on the chest patches and arm pocket, I'm beginning to suspect that Arc'teryx got Malden/Polartec to make the PPSL with a Schoeller Dynamic face. I suspect that the tighter weave of the MX's PPSL will exhibit superior DWR qualities.

The hand (feel) of the PPSL is very supple, almost a not-there kinda feeling. The PPS is somewhat more starchy.

Design & Construction:

The Gamma MX is obviously the more complicated of the two jackets, construction-wise. The lack of seams on precipitation exposure faces (shoulders, outside of arms) would suggest that the MX will withstand liquid precipitation longer before seam wick-through. The MX also employs welding, most obviously on the arm pocket, but probably more consequential at the hem, at which a strip of nylon shell material is welded inside, presumably to reduce upward water wicking through the fleece. The downside to that particular detail is that the nylon takes away hem stretchability, so it's probably a good thing the MX is cut bigger there.

The MX features two medium-sized upper-torso pockets built from a thin material (I have been loathe to put jagged items in those, such as keys) that are easy-to-access due to their inward-facing cross-orientation; two medium-sized waist/hand-warmer pockets that double as vents, but are occluded by a harness or a pack's waiststrap; and one arm pocket that is the correct size for a few cards and some money.

The Gamma SV is a much more traditionally-constructed jacket, with no welding anywhere. Of note is the triple-stitching at the hem and the cuffs.

The SV features two large-sized mid-torso pockets (which are higher-than-optimal as hand-warmer pockets, and not quite as easy-to-access as the MX chest pockets' inward-facing cross-orientation) that double as vents, and a medium-sized internal Napoleon pocket. However, no pockets are occluded by any harness or pack straps/belts.

Opinions & Speculations:

It seems to me that the Gamma SV is a more traditional design and intently focused toward cold-weather ice/rock-climbing. Aside from the climber-specific cut, the reduced inner volume and thicker insulation implies that the jacket was intended to be worn as a traditional softshell, meaning no midlayers. This makes sense as layers (especially fleeces) have a tendency to bind against each other. Not that I have used these particular materials enough to know, but thicker threads and starchier fabric hand usually means greater abrasion-resistance and less of a tendency to catch on things. I suspect that the Gamma SV will wear harder in the course of climbing than the MX, which makes the garment true to its nomenclature (SV = "Severe Use"). I also suspect that you will see the SV on more climbing guides than the MX.

The Gamma MX seems to be true to its nomenclature as well (MX = "Mixed Use"). It is certainly very capable as a climbing jacket, but many of the details suggest that it has interests elsewhere as well. First, Arc'teryx seemed to have put a greater emphasis on water-resistance with this jacket (via seam placement/reduction, tight fabric weave, and nylon at the hem). Second, the thinner Polartec Power Shield Lightweight and the roomier cut increases the jacket's temperature versatility. It seems that Arc'teryx tried to imbue the Polartec Power Shield garment with some hardshell characteristics/advantages with some smart design. With that in mind, I would say that the Gamma MX Hoody is an even better exemplification of this "broadening of capabilities".

Arcteryx vs. vs
post #2 of 2
I had the gamma SV for a while and it was super warm and a great athletic fit. The tight arm fit did get old after a while. Moved to the alpha comp, too thin, and I scored the sigma sv with the windstopper + hood.

I'm done shopping for at least the next 5 years. The sigma sv has the nice soft fleece on the inside and good comfort fit but snug enough for skiing and hiking. I have been in storms everyday at Alta this season and that jacket has done great! just my $.02.
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