Living in Arizona, my raincoat typically finds its home at the bottom of my pack, adding weight to an already heavy bag. It can be tempting to forgo packing a rain layer for my hikes, but on the off chance that it rains in the desert, I don't want to be caught without an outdoor jacket that can withstand the elements. With rain in the weather forecast for the week and a rain jacket that needed to be replaced after only a few years of use, I decided to check out the Arc'teryx Zeta LT Jacket.
Arc'teryx Zeta LT Jacket: first impressions
Upon trying it on, I immediately noted how lightweight the coat is. Listed at only 11.8 ounces, I was confident that it wouldn't weight down my pack.
The Zeta LT Jacket is labeled as a "trim fit," but it felt like it ran a little large, so I settled on a Men's Small, which still provided me with plenty of room for layers underneath.
Although the raincoat is lightweight, I had to be sure that it would compress easily before I made the commitment. To reduce the risk of tearing its shell, I rolled up the jacket into its hood, leaving me with a compact, easy-to-store coat. The raincoat isn't technically considered packable; however, it was rolled up to be just as small as a traditional packable design.
Jacket features and function
The raincoat has a minimalist design, but it's the small details that show the quality of the jacket. From a narrow seam tape to glove-friendly pulls, it's clear that this outer layer was designed to be a quality coat. With two hand pockets placed at the hip level, it's easy to access anything stashed in them while wearing a hip belt. Unlike other jackets, the Zeta LT's hand pockets zip open from the bottom, so you don't have to reach under your pack's straps to gain access to your pockets. Another laminated pocket in the interior helped me keep my phone close while keeping it dry. Arc’teryx's WaterTight™ zippers add to the weather protection by keeping moisture out. The zippers zip up smoothly, and the jacket includes a bit of fleece at the chin to prevent rubbing. The sleeves feature an angled cuff design, which allowed for more coverage without sacrificing the use of my hands. Partial Velcro on the cuffs prevents water from leaking in by comfortably sealing your wrists. Another bonus to the Zeta LT Jacket is Arc’teryx’s StormHood™. With just a quick tug on the toggle cord in the back of the hood, the fabric tucks around your face without obstructing your field of vision.
For most rain jackets, it's clear that while its designers worked to create an outer shell that is water-resistant and durable, they allowed the feel of the interior to be merely an afterthought. With the Arc'teryx Zeta LT Jacket, that's not the case. The circular knit on the inner layer of the raincoat is soft and makes the coat easy to slip on and off with other layers. Unlike other hiking shells — which often feature a 2- or 2.5-layer construction—the Arc'teryx Zeta LT Jacket utilizes a 3-layer GORE-TEX fabric to keep you protected from the elements, featuring a lightweight outer shell, a waterproof and breathable membrane, and a soft lining thanks to GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology.
I decided to test out my Zeta LT Jacket for a day hike on some trails in Gilbert, Arizona. The raincoat kept me 100% dry and cool. When the rain stopped, the jacket dried quickly so I could tuck it back into my pack. The coat held up to its claims of being waterproof and windproof. Although the jacket is designed for hiking and trekking, I also decided to test it out on the rest of the week's rainy weather forecast to see if it would be handy during monsoon season. The coat kept me warm and dry, without making me look bulky.
Final thoughts: Worth the price tag
Retailing at $425, the Arc'teryx Zeta LT Jacket is slightly more expensive than other hiking shells. However, the jacket's ability to remain lightweight without sacrificing trail performance makes it worth the cost. It can be frustrating to have to replace your waterproof outer layer every few years, especially when you live in a state that doesn't see much rain. Having a raincoat that will last and perform well is worth a few extra bucks.