A little over a year ago, Arc’teryx put out the news that they wanted to make big changes at their company. Spurred in part by the pandemic, and by concerns over the welfare of the people who make the garments that we enjoy, they committed to transitioning to a more sustainable and humanitarian production model. Specifically, they committed to making 80% of their garments Fair Trade Certified by 2025. That means that you can be assured that the garment you’re buying wasn’t made by exploiting someone in another country. This jacket, the Agrium Hoody, is one of their first products that is Fair Trade Certified.
- 850-fill goose down with Down Composite Mapping
- Dope-dyed N6.6 yarn outer fabric
- Bluesign approved synthetic insulation made from 45% polyester
- Biopolymer liner
- Locking front zipper
- Elasticated cuffs
- Adjustable, down-insulated StormHood
- Weight: 12.9oz
- MSRP: $399
- Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified product
- Contains insulation with 45% recycled polyester content
- Contains bio-derived material from 60% castor bean oil, yielding the same benefits as synthetic nylon while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels
- Contains materials that meet the bluesign® criteria
- Dope dyed: Uses significantly less water and energy in the dyeing process
Good gear you can feel good about
Arc’teryx is well known for its design and craftsmanship, and it’s probably needless to say that it will need to maintain those things as it transitions into making more Fair Trade gear. If the Agrium Hoody is any indication, they are well on their way to combining performance products with ethical production standards. I am so glad to see Arc’teryx stepping up into a leadership role alongside other brands.
With that said, let’s jump into the jacket. Arc’teryx built the Agrium around an 850-fill European goose down, which is just about as light and fluffy as they come. The down comes RDS-certified, meaning that the goose down is sourced from animals that were not force-fed or live plucked. The goose down is augmented in strategic, moisture-prone areas by a bluesign-approved synthetic insulation. We’ll come back to that.
The outer fabric is just as impressive. Arc’teryx opted for a process called dope dyeing, which is a cool name for an even cooler process. I don’t pretend to understand the technology, but traditional fabric manufacturing is a two-step process where color is added in a second step to a uncolored base fabric. Dope dyeing cuts the step, and produces fabrics where the threads themselves are pigmented, saving water and promising a more durable and equally vibrant shade. The inner fabric, as best as I can tell, is actually a biologically derived material that is 60% castor bean oil. It feels just the same as any other nylon, but with less of a reliance on fossil fuels.
All of those sustainability features are awesome, and to Arc’teryx’s credit they are advertising the heck out of them which I hope makes consumers and competitors look up and take notice. With that said, it won’t be much good if the jacket doesn’t do a good job outside, so let’s dive into that next.
My testing ground for the Agrium Hoody was the wet, rainy Pacific Northwest fall and winter. This type of climate is ideal for something like the Agrium; while traditionally down jackets aren’t a first choice for wet days, the strategically placed synthetic insulation on the shoulders and hem really help the Agrium bounce back when it gets damp. It’s really a very warm jacket, too, so for my personal needs I only used it for moments in-between activity, or at the top of a hike, when I needed warmth. In terms of fit, the Agrium is a touch baggier than other Arc’teryx puffies like the Cerium LT.
Other features abound and highlight Arc’teryx’s excellent design. I love the adjustable StormHood, which has a single elastic adjustment that effectively seals the hood onto your head and draws away the sides of the hood to increase your peripheral vision. The Agrium doesn’t actually have a built-in visor reinforced with piping, so it does suffer somewhat in windy conditions.
The seal around the neck is another major benefit of Arc’teryx’s fit: they’ve managed to make a cozy, gasket-like seal when you zip the jacket all the way up. There’s also a locking zip and a zipper garage to keep things secure and comfortable. The zipper gauge is heavier than what’s on the Cerium, so that’s a nice touch for durability and ease of use.
Other features work well too, like the single-pull elastic waist band and the elasticated cuffs. The cuffs are simple and effective, but perhaps not as cozy as some designs that add a stretch nylon gasket to this area. Arc’teryx applied a DWR to the outer fabric, so it beads up nicely. This is important, because they also chose a more environmentally friendly compound than traditional fluorine-containing water repellants.
In terms of durability, the sustainable nylons that Arc’teryx is using here is equivalent to 20D on the outside and 15D on the inside. In these days of ever lighter gear, that’s a reasonably durable weight for a ripstop nylon. I expect it to last just as well as any jacket of a similar weight, but that doesn’t mean it will hold up to abuse. Down jackets always need some TLC.
One last feature to point out is the attached stuff sack. I love it when brands give me a stuff sac option, either in a pocket or an attached bag. The 850-fill goose down is very compressible, and this big heavy puffy essentially disappears when stowed in your pack.
Fit: At 5’11” and 200 lbs, I’m wearing the large.
- Green technology that doesn’t sacrifice on performance
- Great fit and application of features; all work well
- Down Composite Mapping puts extra water resistance where you need it
- StormHood continues to be one of the best designs out there
- The larger-gauge zipper is a nice change from products like the Cerium
- Included stuff sack is a nice touch
- Stitch-through baffles do let wind through
- Fit is baggier than other Arc’teryx products, notably the Cerium (which is slim fit)
- A more robust visor would be a good addition for windy days
The Bottom Line: Arc’teryx Agrium Hoody
Arc’teryx has created a sustainable, eco-friendly and humanitarian-minded jacket that is indistinguishable from any other high-performance outerwear. That’s a huge triumph, and it’s also happening at a price point that is consistent with their other offerings. I think this is a great piece, it does just what it needs to without extra fluff, and if you’re looking for a high warmth-for-weight puffy it’s hard to beat the Agrium at the moment.
Buy now: Available from Arc’teryx.com
How does this compare to the thorium?