Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Nice colors, warmer than expected, plenty of pockets, few seams, no frivolous 'features.'
Cons: Made in China, not recycled, blandish styling, no zipper guard, looks a little flimsy.
Best Uses: The (blue fleece) makes a fine lightweight jacket alone, and has room for plenty of stuff around town. While it won't keep out deep winter without some help, it's superb as a heavy second layer for nasty conditions.
The Arc'teryx Caliber Cardigan looks like a good crossover fleece jacket for moderately cool days and layering under a shell. Others in the review got more attention, but this lightweight full zip offers good value while quietly getting the job done. Clean lines and simple construction avoid the cluttered look that's common to pretenders.
The Patagonia R1 breathes a bit better, weighs and costs around the same, and offers comparable warmth and some recycled material. For colder conditions, it might be better to go with the heavier weight Patagonia R2 Jacket - Men's for 30 bucks more. The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 is warmer and cozier and will get more attention around town, but is bulkier and costs a bit more, while sharing the same environmental problems.
This is an outdated review and the product may have changed or been discontinued. Please see our latest Fleece Jacket Review to see our current top rated jackets.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This fleece was a favorite for hammering in the big ringit breathed well enough for major exertion without having to strip down. For such a thin fleece, it's surprisingly warm, and breathes very well, making the lack of pit zips a non-issue. It has 5 pockets for stashing everything (including an ipod pocket on the sleeve), which might even be overkill. Few seams mean less stuff to blow out, and a refreshing lack of bogus 'features' give the jacket clean lines.
Another Made in China special from Arc'teryx, who also supply the military with gearpeaceniks take note. The material used is not recycled, even though the technology is widely available. Blandish styling offsets the nice colors, but won't be an issue for functionality first types. No zipper guard means either a cold chin or snagged goatee when things are just wrong. The construction looks a little flimsy, especially when compared with thicker offerings.
Bouldering, mountain biking, layer under a drysuit, day hiking
Bike church meets every Sunday. It's three guys who are fanatical trail builders and in insane shape, one guy who's pretty strong, and your humble reviewer, who hurts quite badly at the end of every Sunday ride. A few weeks back we piled our bikes onto one car and headed out to a new spot that boasts amazing views along with pioneer-era wagon ruts carved into rock. It's also got a brutal climb composed almost entirely of loose rock that requires trials biking skills (only four of us had them). Ten minutes into the climb, it was time to strip off the fleece, and it rode the Camelback all the way up. Once we topped out, though, it was cool and windy, and we had to stop for a few safety meetings while riding the ridge line. Over a super thin bike jersey, the Arc'teryx offered the perfect balance of breathability, warmth, and a tiny bit of cushion while body-surfing after missing a turn. At viewpoints when everyone else was shivering and wanting to get moving, I was happy to kick back and enjoy the view.
Arc'teryx, in general, offers good gear for top dollar. It's money well spent if you need a crossover fleece that straddles the line between base layer and standalone jacket
Arc'teryx Caliber Crew - Men's
Arc'teryx Caliber Zip Neck - Men's
— Kevin Swift
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 27, 2010
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