A down jacket that respects the animals, people, and planet that provide it? Editor Vince Hempsall dons a black Arc’teryx Agrium Hoody for this honest review to see if it’s easy being green.

Vancouver, BC-based Arc’teryx has been at the forefront of gear and apparel design since it was incorporated in 1989. In recent years, though, the company has moved to the fore of the responsible textile movement as well. Which is not only nice, it’s necessary. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, over 13 million tons of textiles are thrown out each year. And that’s just in the United States! As for the rest of the planet, the World Economic Forum reported this year that fashion, and its supply chain, is the third largest polluter worldwide after food and construction. To help combat a collapse, Arc’teryx launched ReBIRD earlier this year, an initiative which takes older items and cast-offs and repurposes them. Imagine a unique, multi-coloured jacket cobbled together from other apparel for example. The company also set a goal to have 80 percent of its products certified as fair trade by 2025 and it’s taken a more sustainable approach with its virgin products: the Arc’teryx Agrium Hoody is a case in point so for this honest review, we see we’re keen on

Snapshot: Arc’teryx Agrium Hoody

  1. Pros: This is an incredibly warm jacket for the weight but more importantly it makes you feel all warm inside knowing it’s made with the environment in mind.
  2. Cons: The hood is a bit too voluminous.
  3. Price: US$400 Cdn
  4. Who Should Buy: People who care about the environment and who play in the mountains and/or frequent medium- to higher-end restaurants.
  5. Who Shouldn’t Buy: Anyone counting their pennies.
  6. Helpful Hack: There’s a removable stuff sack in the inside chest pocket
  7. Author’s overall rating: 9.5/10

The Test

I live in the beautiful mountain community of Nelson, located in British Columbia about 65 kilometres north of the American border. The city is nestled in the Selkirk mountains, between the Bonnington and Nelson subranges, and its 10,000 residents regularly take advantage of the proximity of the alpine to hike, ski, bike, climb, you name it. But we also love our urban scene and have no less than 64 restaurants and cafés in the city to frequent. On top of that, we’re an environmental bunch and are regularly protesting such things as clearcutting and the Jumbo Pass ski resort. I share all this because since receiving the Arc’teryx Agrium Hoody I have worn it in the mountains, to upscale restaurants, and to a Last Stand West Kootenays event held to protest the logging of old growth forests in the province. It’s been doused with rain, pelted with wind and snow and worn on a particularly sweaty slackcountry romp.

The Verdict

It can’t be easy creating a piece of attire that performs well in the mountains, looks good in an urban setting, and does a solid for the planet. But that’s exactly what Arc’teryx has accomplished with the creation of the Agrium Hoody. This jacket arrived at my house in September so I only had the chance to use it a handful of times in the mountains during the shoulder season and first part of winter before writing this review. But I can confirm that it’s very packable (it stuffs down to about the size of Nalgene bottle) and exceptionally warm. On one pre-season session at the local ski resort, I barely noticed it in my pack during the skin up but was thankful to throw it on under my outer shell once we hit the ridge because the windchill was intense.

I will say on that outing I felt the Agrium was a bit bulky for a midlayer and I was suprised by the volume of the hood. Even with the drawcord fully cinched, there were areas around my face where the wind got in. But then again, I have a small noggin so the Charlie Browns of the world shouldn’t fret.

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Where I was particularly impressed with the Agrium hoody was when I wore it as an outermost layer and during forays around town. This is a high-tech jacket that doesn’t look like one. Even on wet November days it shed water well and looked good doing it. It’s the kind of piece that I felt comfortable wearing to business dinners and semi-formal holiday gatherings. (I have the black version; not so sure if the “tatsu” green-coloured one looks as classy in person.) The Arc’teryx logo definitely helps with higher-brow assimilation too, if you’re into that sort of thing. After all, the brand sports some of the more expensive price tags on the market.

The Arc’teryx Agrium Hoody photographed after this review was written. It performed well as an outer layer in -23°C. (Note the ice on the eyelashes.)

More importantly though, serious thought has been given to the impacts of creating this piece and that is why I’m giving the Agrium hoody such a high score. Here is a bullet list of the things taken into consideration with the Agrium’s development:

🌍 The outer material is “dope dyed,” meaning colour is injected at the stage when the cellulosic material is in semi liquid stage and this is then spun into textile. It boasts a deeper colour saturation and requires a lot less water and energy to do than conventional wet processing jet-dye. This might mean you’re not going to find the Agrium Hoody in neon pink any time soon but it’s worth it.

🌍 The durable water repellency (DWR) coating on the jacket’s exterior is certified by BlueSign, meaning it’s done without harmful fluorine and fluoro-carbon chemicals.

🌍 The biopolymer liner of the jacket incorporates 60 percent plant-based nylon from castor bean oil, which reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

🌍 The 850 fill European white goose down is produced under responsible down standard certification developed to protect animals from unnecessary harm.

🌍 Areas of the jacket that are prone to getting wet, such as the shoulders, contain synthetic insulation with 45% recycled polyester content.

Will the Agrium Hoody save the planet? No. Will other manufactures take note of the fact a technical garment can look good during a night on the town and be made in a responsible way. I very much hope so. Kudos to Arc’teryx for helping steer the outdoor soft goods industry in the right direction.

The Deets – Arc’teryx Agrium Hoody

  • 850 fill European white goose down
  • Strategic use of synthetic insulation in moisture heavy areas
  • Lightweight, down-proof minirip outer
  • Adjustable, down-insulated hood
  • Colours: Black, Tatsu (green)
  • Weight: 365 grams (12.9 oz)
  • Price: US$400

Author’s Note: Mountain Culture Group is not paid for these reviews. They are honest expressions of our opinions. In some instances we are given the product to keep but that does not sway our assessment. If we dislike a product and feel it would score a rating of less than 5/10, we simply won’t review it.