I’ve owned a number of down jackets through the years (more than I’d like to admit, actually), but the one I reach for more than any other when I know I’ll be confronted with some seriously cold weather is the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody. To me, there’s nothing worse than being cold in the mountains with no way to get warm, which is why, admittedly, I carry a bit more than I need most of the time. I’d much rather have an extra pair of gloves or an overly warm down jacket stowed away in my backpack and not need them than vice versa. That is why there aren’t too many instances where the Cerium LT isn’t stashed away in my backpack when I’m ski touring, backpacking, or climbing. Now let’s take a look at why that is.
Arc’teryx describes the Cerium LT as, “lightweight, versatile, and provid[ing] serious warmth.” Its name comes from the rare-earth mineral Cerium, which is a malleable grey metal, and the LT is Arc’teryx-speak for lightweight. Arc’teryx designed the Cerium to be worn either under a waterproof shell as a midlayer during severe weather or as a standalone piece in cold, dry conditions. Since the Cerium is designed to be worn as a midlayer, it has a slightly more streamlined fit that serves to both save needless weight and bulk and be worn comfortably under a shell—both of which are good things in my book.
For insulation, the Cerium primarily uses high-quality 850-fill power down, which is very compressible and allows the jacket to be packed down to about the size of a 32-ounce water bottle. Once unpacked, the 850-fill down is quick to regain its loft for on-demand warmth when you need it. What really sets the Cerium LT apart from others in its class, though, is Arc’teryx’s Down Composite Mapping Technology.
Down Composite Mapping Technology uses a combination of Arc’teryx’s proprietary Coreloft insulation, which is siliconized, crimped polyester fibers, and 850-fill power down. By placing water-resistant Coreloft insulation in areas prone to moisture, the jacket is able to retain its insulating properties longer in wet conditions. To give the Cerium further protection from moisture, the Arato 10 fabric (10-denier nylon) is treated with a DWR finish that repels light snowfall and very light rain. Any precipitation beyond that, and you’ll want to wear a waterproof layer over the Cerium to prevent the down from getting wet and losing warmth.
Keeping weight to a minimum, the Cerium LT doesn’t boast a whole lot of features. The jacket has two low-profile hand pockets and a small internal chest pocket that’s good for stashing a headlamp or other small accessories. The hood and hem are both adjustable, while the soft elastic-bound cuffs and hood help trap body heat, enhancing the thermal efficiency of the jacket. In total, the Cerium LT weighs just 10.8 ounces, putting it about five ounces lighter than similarly spec’d jackets in its class.
My first impression of the Cerium LT was the quality of the down insulation. Not only does the jacket pack down much smaller than other synthetic insulators I own, but it also packs down smaller than my other down jackets. The down fill also has a very soft, warm feel to it, which really adds to the high-quality feel of the jacket. I’m 6 ft 3 in and weigh about 190 lb, and I found the large to be a great fit for my frame. It fits well through the torso, and the sleeves are just the right length to prevent gaps when I wear the jacket with gloves on.
As I mentioned earlier, the Cerium has a more streamlined, almost slim, fit when compared to other jackets. I was initially concerned this might make the jacket difficult to throw over a fleece or even a ski jacket, as this is something I frequently do to avoid heat-loss, but I’ve since found the Cerium fits easily over my Arc’teryx Rush jacket when I need to warm up when transitioning for the descent while ski touring, or I just need to warm up quick when I’m taking off my ski boots back at the car after a day of skiing.
I’ve put the Arc’teryx Cerium LT through its paces in a number of different scenarios. I’ve taken the jacket ski touring, winter camping, backpacking, and rock climbing, and I’ve yet to find a mountain activity where I wasn’t glad to have it along. The Cerium LT makes an excellent belay jacket here in Utah, as its compressible design makes it easy to stash with my other climbing gear or even clip to my harness during multi-pitch climbs. The Cerium LT is also a mainstay in my backcountry ski pack. Whether I’m digging a snow pit, transitioning after a long climb, or just enjoying a beverage back at the car with ski partners, I’m most likely wearing the Cerium LT.
In the mountains, the Cerium performs just as you’d expect a jacket like this to—it quickly warms you up, packs down small when you don’t need it, and it adds hardly any weight to your backpack or climbing gear. The hood fits over my climbing helmet and is easily adjusted for a snug, secure fit when it’s windy. This is actually a really nice feature when you’re hunkered down in camp with little to no way to get out of the wind.
Drawbacks and Shortcomings
As with any lightweight piece of gear, durability becomes an issue. I’ve personally found the Cerium LT to be a fairly durable down jacket, but I do take precautions to not tear the fabric by not wearing it in thick brush or packing it next to my crampons when I’m mountaineering. For this reason, I’d recommend looking for another jacket if you want something you can use and abuse in really rough terrain with little to no worry. The Cerium is designed to be a lightweight (LT) insulator, so by design, it’s not the most durable piece of outerwear out there.
Having owned a number of Arc’teryx products through the years, I’d say the Cerium LT Hoody maintains the purposeful design and high-quality materials that have made many Arc’teryx products mainstays in the industry. Not only is it the best down jacket I own, but it’s also the most versatile for the many activities I enjoy the mountains. If you’re looking for a do-it-all down insulator you’ll use all year, look no further than the Arc’teryx Cerium LT.
By: Jeff Sorenson, Senior Editor & Content Manager