I have a confession to make.
I’m a running jacket hoarder. I’ve never admitted it before, but the evidence is right there in the closet.
My jacket menagerie includes heavy ones for below 15 degrees, water resistant ones to wear when it’s snowing, a jacket/vest hybrid for when the weather is finicky, a vest for when it’s cold, a vest for when it’s not so cold and a lightweight shell great for chilly spring mornings.
But the light jacket isn’t water resistant, and the water resistant jacket isn’t light, leaving me in a constant state of forecast fear. Do you try to stay dry and overheat (and get sweaty and freeze)? Or just get wet and freeze?
The latest addition to my jacket collection — the Cita Hoody from Arc’teryx’s Endorphin line — is designed to fix these problems; it’s lightweight and water resistant.
This made me immediately skeptical that it wouldn’t be breathable, but surprisingly it is. The smarties at Arc’terex designed this jacket with strategically placed vents that start on the sides of your core and end under your arm. I wish these vents went all the way to the elbow, but this is a minor gripe.
The 100% Nylon shell is only 4.4 ounces, but has enough heft that it blocks the wind and should hold up ok if you take a spill on the trail. I have other shells that seem almost delicate compared to the Cita.
Despite being super minimalist, the Cita still gives you a lot of features that most light shells don’t. This one gives you a hood with draw cords and a hip pocket (also the stow pocket) that has a real zipper. Inside the stow pocket is a media pocket — with a port — that is great for a small iPod, keys, gel or Chapstick. The stow pocket sits right above your hip, and is far enough toward the back that it cuts down on swing when it’s full.
This is a great shell when you don’t need much. And at under 5 ounces, it’s so light you can bring it along in a pack or tied around your waist and barely know it’s there. It’s ideal as a “just in case” jacket, I’ve been carting it around in my bag and pack like a security blanket.
Function: I’ve worn this on damp mornings (with shorts) when the temperature is actually 60 degrees but feels more like 40. I end up with the sleeves pushed up or the jacket unzipped, but it’s not been too hot. We got our test sample too late to try in the cold, but it did keep me warm enough (with tights and gloves) on a 40-degree morning in blustery wind.
I haven’t gotten the chance to wear this in heavy rain (bets are you’d get wet), but it does well in light rain. The water beads on the surface and doesn’t soak into the jacket. The Cita zips high enough to keep the rain from getting in at the neck.
Fit: The cut is athletic, and fits snug to the body. You don’t want to try to stuff too much under this, it’s best suited to go over lightweight shirts. The bottom hits a few inches below my hip and the drop hem in the back keeps you covered. The drop hem is especially nice if you’re wearing it with a pack, it won’t ride up and leave you with exposed skin to chafe. I’m typically a size medium, but I’m 5’6″ and 130 pounds and the small Cita fits me just fine.
Con: My only real complaint with this jacket are the sleeves. From the forearm to the wrist they are amazingly tight on my tiny bird wrists. The elastic cuffs are so snug that I have trouble taking this off when I’m wearing my GPS watch. It’s less of a hassle to take off my watch and then the jacket.
The price tag puts this jacket $50 higher than my Patagonia Nine Trails jacket, but it offers more features. This one also keeps the water off better than the Patagucci, which turns into something like wet wax paper when it gets wet.
Quality: This satisfies all the expectations I have about Arc’terex quality: The seams are straight, there are no loose edges and it looks like it’ll hold up for many seasons.
Washing: I’ve been washing this on cold with the rest of my tech gear. Skip the dryer, it comes out of the washer practically dry.
Wish List: I would love if the vents went all the way down to the elbows for a little extra breath-ability. And looser or adjustable cuffs would be nice.
Get it for $145 here or at most big outdoors stores.
Sara Davidson is an ultrarunner and resident women’s gear destroyer. She loves this jacket even more because it is orange.