Always designed with a specific purpose in mind, Arc’teryx offers a wide range of insulated jackets, and the Cerium LT is one of its most popular. With premium 850-fill down and Coreloft synthetic in areas prone to moisture, it’s a great option for backcountry use yet still wears well in the city. Below we break down our experiences with the Cerium LT. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our articles on the best down jackets and best midlayers.
Table of Contents
- Weight and Packability
- Weather Resistance
- Construction and Durability
- Features: Hood and Pockets
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
For insulation, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody uses a unique hybrid design, which Arc’teryx calls “Down Composite Mapping.” Premium 850-fill goose down warms the core, while Coreloft synthetic insulation is placed in areas prone to getting wet: under the arms, around the sleeves, and along the shoulders (for more, see the section on “Weather Resistance” below). Thankfully, Arc'teryx's decision to use this mixture does not sacrifice the plush feel that down jackets are known for, largely due to the super-lofty down and high-end build. Arc’teryx uses a generous 3.4 ounces of down, and we found it provides very similar levels of warmth to the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody (3.7 oz. of 800-fill down) while surpassing the popular Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 (3 oz. of 800-fill down).
The 80- and 100-gram Coreloft synthetic used in the Cerium LT is moderately warm, balancing the added weight of synthetic with solid insulating properties that continue to perform when wet. We’ve been hard-pressed to identify any differences in areas that are insulated by down or synthetic, and have found the hybrid system has been nicely executed. Total fill weight (down plus synthetic) is elusive with the Cerium because of the two types of fill, but it's safe to say the jacket is quite warm for its weight.
At 10.8 ounces (including the stuff sack) in a men’s medium, the Cerium LT Hoody is a competitive lightweight down jacket. It’s slightly heavier than the Feathered Friends Eos (10.6 oz.) but considerably undercuts Patagonia’s popular Down Sweater Hoody (15.1 oz.) and weighs a couple ounces less than Arc’teryx’s own Agrium (12.9 oz.), a new offering that’s built similarly with a mix of 850-fill down and synthetic insulation. However, compared to true ultralight models, it does fall on the heavier end on the spectrum. For comparison, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 (8.8 oz.) and Montbell Ex Light Down Anorak (7.6 oz.) both are notably lighter. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that the Cerium LT uses a heavier-weight shell fabric and has some synthetic insulation in select areas. These features offer tangible benefits as described above, but also add a little weight.
The mix of down and synthetic, while appreciated for its wet-weather performance, had us a bit concerned about the Cerium LT’s compressed size—a big reason to opt for a down jacket in the first place. But we’re happy to report that the Cerium compresses like a true down jacket. It fits quite easily into the included stuff sack, measuring approximately 8.5 x 4.5 x 5 inches (LxWxH of the cylinder shape)—a size that stacks up well with the primary competitors. We much prefer down jackets that stuff into their own pockets, but Arc’teryx did make an effort to address the primary reason to avoid a stuff sack: losing the bag. With a loop on the inside of the right hand pocket, you can simply tie the stuff sack to that spot. It’s simple and works well, and the only downside is you still have to carry around a stuff sack in your pocket (unless you have a good storage alternative).
The number one enemy of down is moisture. Unlike synthetic insulation, when moisture reaches down clusters it turns them to mush, compressing their loft. The loss of loft means the down no longer insulates. To combat this, Arc’teryx placed Coreloft, their in-house high-quality synthetic, in the areas of the jacket most prone to getting wet: shoulders, underarms, cuffs, and the collar in front of the mouth. Down insulation was kept in the areas where maximum heating efficiency is enjoyed: the core, hood, and upper arms. It's worth noting that although the synthetic insulation does bring additional confidence in backcountry use and around snow, the Cerium LT is by no means designed to be a jacket you’d wear in heavy rain. Make sure to still bring a rain jacket or hardshell to wear overtop if the weather turns.
The Cerium LT’s wind-resistant shell performed well on cold day hikes and during a variety of snow sports, the addition of synthetic insulation is a nice touch, and you do get a DWR treatment to help water bead off instead of soaking in. But it cannot compare to a synthetic jacket and, as we mentioned, you’ll need to add a rain jacket or hardshell when the going gets tough. Even for climbing, the Cerium LT would fall short as a belay jacket in cold and damp conditions. For this sort of environment, we would opt for a fully synthetic jacket with a more weather-resistant shell material, like Patagonia’s Macro Puff or Black Diamond’s Belay Parka. But within the lightweight down jacket world, the Cerium LT combats the elements as well as most.
Premium materials and fit and finish are areas where the Cerium LT really excels. Excellent stitching and very clean lines are present in every Arc’teryx product we’ve had our hands on. It’s extremely rare to find even a loose thread on these jackets, something that you can’t say of most outdoor brands. We do feel it’s worth mentioning that some users have reported their Cerium LT being prone to shedding down. We’ve had to massage a few feathers back through the fabric, but have not seen any undue loss of insulation. And we’ve experienced absolutely zero durability issues over extensive use of the jacket.
In the construction of the Cerium LT, Arc’teryx opted for a 10-denier (D) ripstop nylon, which is fairly thin. That said, the feel of the shell is plusher than most ultralight options, including Arc’teryx’s own Cerium SL Hoody (7D). For comparison, Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer/2 also features a thin 10x10D shell, and both jackets are smooth and have nice next-to-skin softness on both the outer and inner shell fabrics, including the collar in front of the face when fully zipped. And a common place to cut weight is the zippers, but we have experienced no hiccups to date. Although they are noticeably lightweight, all zippers on the Cerium LT have been confidence-inspiring and seem made to last.
The Cerium is made in both hoody and standard, non-hooded jacket versions. If you opt for the extra head coverage, you’re getting, in our opinion, the best hood system currently on the market for only $30 more. The large (but not helmet-compatible) StormHood cinches just like many other performance down jackets, with a single drawcord on the back of the hood. But the difference is that tightens evenly around your head, uniformly securing around your forehead and around back. It’s a relatively simple feature, but one that demonstrates the level of detail and care Arc’teryx takes in designing their products.
In terms of storage, the Cerium LT comes equipped with a fairly standard assortment: two hand pockets and one internal pocket. As we touched on above, the right hand pocket features a loop on the inside that’s helpful for securing the separate stuff sack (we’ve lost many of these over the years). The Cerium doesn’t have an external chest pocket, but the internal one is sufficient for stowing valuables like a smartphone close to your body.
Arc’teryx describes the Cerium LT’s cut as “trim fit,” and we can strongly confirm that designation. We had a medium for testing, and while the sizing was true, it had the most athletic cut of our entire lightweight down jacket testing lineup—something we really appreciate with a pack on or when wearing under a shell. The Cerium LT is the kind of jacket that moves with you, as opposed to feeling like you’re swimming around inside of it. Plus, a waist cinch keeps the jacket close and eliminates heat loss at the hip, and the cuffs are integrated into the sleeves so that the arm’s insulation still covers the entire wrist—making them our consensus favorite design amongst down jacket cuffs. There is still sufficient stretch to fit over gloves if needed, but they aren’t so loose to let cold air seep through.
With a back length measured at 28.3 inches in a size medium, the Cerium is about average for a down jacket. Previous versions of the LT struck us as a little short, but the current model has a comfortable length that can be both layered under a hardshell jacket or worn on its own. With testers ranging from 5'9" to 6'1", the medium provided a nice, well-tailored fit.
Other Versions of the Arc'teryx Cerium
We tested the men’s Cerium LT Hoody for this review, and there are a number of other options in this popular lineup. As we mentioned above, Arc’teryx also makes a non-hooded Cerium LT Jacket ($349), which clocks in about an ounce lighter than the hoody at 9.9 ounces. The Cerium LT is also available in a vest option, which costs $249 and weighs 6.5 ounces. It retains the same Down Composite Mapping construction, as well as the 850-fill down. Additionally, all varieties (hooded, non-hooded, and vest) are made in women’s versions. The women’s Cerium LT Hoody comes in at 9.9 ounces, costs the same, and features an identical build. Finally, as expected from Arc'teryx, they also offer a lighter and more packable SL (superlight) version, with is a more specialized piece with an ultralight build (7.6 oz.), thinner 7-denier shell, and only 1.7 ounces of 850-fill-power down.
- One of our favorite lightweight down jackets. The Cerium LT is extremely well-built, comfortable, and has an athletic fit that isn't overly boxy.
- Good warmth-to-weight ratio with a healthy amount of 850-fill down.
- The StormHood fits evenly around the head and is super easy to adjust.
- The unique combination of down and synthetic insulation is effective in light moisture.
What We Don’t
- Compared to true ultralight down jackets, the Cerium LT falls on the heavier end of the spectrum.
- The shell is relatively thin, although we haven’t had any durability issues to date.
- Pricey at $379.
|Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody||$379||10.8 oz.||850-fill down & Coreloft||3.4 oz. & 80 g/m2||10D|
|Feathered Friends Eos||$339||10.6 oz.||900-fill down||3.7 oz.||12Dx20D|
|MH Ghost Whisperer/2||$325||8.8 oz.||800-fill down||3 oz.||10Dx10D|
|Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody||$279||15.1 oz.||800-fill down||3.7 oz.||20Dx30D|
|Arc'teryx Agrium Hoody||$400||12.9 oz.||850-fill down & synthetic||4.1 oz. & 107 g/m2||15D|
|Arc'teryx Thorium AR Hoody||$325||1 lb. 1.3 oz.||750-fill down & Coreloft||4.6 oz. & 80 g/m2||30D|
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT is a premium down jacket that offers impressive warmth for the weight. In this category, the Cerium’s closest competitor is the Feathered Friends Eos. Although not a household name like Arc’teryx, Feathered Friends is a down specialist based out of Seattle that makes high-quality jackets and sleeping bags, among other products. The Eos is a prime example: it packs 3.7 ounces of premium 900-fill goose down into a lightweight 10.6-ounce package. Running the numbers, that’s 0.3 ounces more down for 0.2 ounces less, plus its shell is thicker at 12D x 20D vs. 10D on the Arc’teryx. However, the Eos’ somewhat technical appearance and limited colorways aren’t quite as appealing for everyday wear, and it lacks the synthetic fill of the Cerium LT (although its Pertex Quantum shell repels light precipitation just fine). In the end, it’s a close call, but with the $40 cost savings and loftier down, we give the Feathered Friends the slight edge.
We’ve made several references to the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer in this review—it’s one of our favorite down hoodies and pioneered the ultralight category years ago. Now the “2,” the retooled Ghost Whisperer is extremely light at 8.8 ounces and includes a solid 3 ounces of 800-fill down (for a detailed breakdown, see our Ghost Whisperer/2 review). That said, the jacket features a similarly thin 10 x 10-denier shell, and it offers less warmth than the Cerium LT. And although synthetic insulation is less packable than down, we do like the added Coreloft in the Cerium for a bit better protection against the elements (although both jackets will require a shell in serious weather). Ounce-counters likely will prefer the Ghost Whisperer, but the Cerium LT offers a boost in warmth, durability, and everyday appeal.
Again, it’s hard to match Arc’teryx’s level of quality and craftsmanship, but Patagonia is one brand that comes close. From their lineup, the Down Sweater Hoody is a close competitor to the Cerium LT with 3.67 ounces of 800-fill down and a competitive $279 price tag—a full $100 cheaper than the Arc’teryx. The Down Sweater also is slightly more hardwearing with a 20 x 30-denier shell. However, the Patagonia is fairly heavy at 15.1 ounces and the fit is a bit boxier than we like (although this is good news if you plan to layer). In the end, we like the Down Sweater for daily wear and light outdoors use—it tops our down jacket round-up largely because of its versatility—but the Cerium LT offers better performance for less weight.
Arc’teryx recently released another alternative to the Cerium LT in the Agrium Hoody. For $21 more, the Agrium is a little more everyday-friendly with a slightly thicker 15-denier shell, a more generous “regular” fit, and a longer center back length (29.5 in. vs. 28.3 in. for the Cerium). Additionally, the Agrium is a little warmer with 4.1 ounces of 850-fill down (like the Cerium, you still get synthetic in moisture-prone areas). Arc’teryx also gave the Agrium a big sustainability slant, including the use of bluesign-approved and bio-based materials, a PFC-free DWR finish, recycled polyester, a dope-dyed shell that limits water and energy use during production, and down fill that’s certified to the Responsible Down Standard. All of these additions do add some weight (12.9 oz.) and bulk, making the Cerium the better choice for committed backcountry-goers. But as a less technical alternative that can still pull double duty on outdoor adventures, we really like the Agrium.
A final option to consider is Arc’teryx’s own Thorium AR Hoody. Using a similar mixture of goose down and synthetic Coreloft insulation (in this case, 750-fill), the Thorium provides good overall warmth and decent weather protection. Despite the lower-quality down, it’s slightly warmer than the Cerium LT (the fill weight is around 4.6 ounces) and sports a tougher 30-denier face fabric (the Cerium is 10D). Finally, the Thorium is billed as “regular” fit, which is more ideal for layering than the Cerium LT’s slim cut. However, the Thorium is 6.5 ounces heavier at 1 pound 1.3 ounces and doesn’t pack down as small (for more information, see our in-depth Thorium AR review). All things considered, the Thorium is more versatile and cheaper at $325, but the Cerium gets the edge for backcountry missions where weight and packability are top considerations.
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