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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Not as warm as other jackets, loose hem, not long enough to fit nicely under a harness.
Our testers were excited to use the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody thanks to its sleek look and neat features. And while it came close to our award winners performance wise, ultimately this model fell a little short. It didn't have the warmth of the Patagonia R3 Hoody, nor the breathability of the Patagonia R1 Hoody, our Editors' Choice and Top Pick winners. It does have some great features, like an optional face covering and "hardface" material that helps to block the wind and a light rain. In fact, if you are looking for an ice or alpine climbing layer, then this is a great choice. Otherwise, it's just a little too specialized and not as comfortable or versatile as our award winners.
RELATED: Our complete review of fleece jackets - men's
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody has a full length zipper and is constructed with flatlock seams which lie flat for added comfort. It features one chest pocket and two hand warmer pockets, and the scuba style hood hugs the head to trap in the heat. The hood also has an integrated neck gaiter which lies at the back of the hood when not in use. It's made with Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology (88% polyester, 12% elastane) and weighs 13.6 ounces. It currently comes in Adriadic Blue, Anaconda Green, Azul, Carbon Copy, Oxblood, and Steller Orange color choices.
We couldn't help but notice that this fleece was not as warm as our Editors' Choice winning Patagonia R3 Hoody when used as an outer layer. If used as a mid-layer, it worked well adding just enough warmth to keep our testers content. The neck gaiter does a great job of keeping your heat from leaking out, and also doubles as a great face mask to keep the nose from freezing off.
This is quite a comfortable fleece once it is on and adjusted correctly. The inside fleece lining is extremely soft and lightly glides along the skin, but it does tend to catch on the fabric of a t-shirt. This creates some bunching in shoulders and armpits which needs some adjusting. The flatlocked seams are only slightly noticeable on the shoulders when carrying a heavy backpack. The seam running down the arm sleeves runs directly over the elbow which is a bit annoying.
The breathability capabilities of the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody were good, but not nearly as great as the Patagonia R-Series models. It's possible that the "Hardface" technology that does a great job of repelling water impedes airflow a bit. As a result, we got sweaty when working hard in this jacket, and found that unzipping it most of the way was the best way to let our bodies breathe. If you're looking for a fleece to be active in, such as winter running, cross-country skiing, or ski touring, then the Patagonia R1 Hoody is a better choice, as it has superior breathability thanks to its gridded fleece design.
Layering Ability & Ease of Movement
When buying a product such as this, some of the most important considerations are how well the piece layers and how easily you can move in it. We found that this fleece grabbed ahold of most fabrics, other than polyester, and bunched up around the shoulders. Adjusting the jacket takes a few seconds. Once it is adjusted correctly it feels like an extra layer of skin when moving around in it. When used as a mid-layer, the outer shell slides on easily with minimal bunching of the sleeves. Since this jacket isn't the warmest it did layer well with a wind stopper or a rain jacket during chilly spring and autumn months.
Wind Protection & Water Resistance
If you are in the market for a water resistant hoody then this one may be for you. When it comes to the rain, the water beads up and rolls off with ease. Out of all the fleeces we tested, this one kept us the driest in light snow and rain. It also did a decent job of keeping the wind at bay; however, strong winds still easily rip through this jacket when worn as an outer layer. If you plan on using this fleece in very windy conditions, you'll want a dedicated wind layer, such as the Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody, on top.
This fleece technically is a midweight model (it's made with 230 g/mē material), but it weighs only 13.6 ounces and is only slightly heavier than the lightweight models that we tested. It doesn't fold up as small as the Patagonia R1 Hoody for easy packing, but you'll hardly notice the weight when it's stashed in the bottom of a pack.
The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is great as an outer layer for cold climbing days or if you expect to get rained on a little (but not too much). This jacket is also great for some winter pursuits, like ice climbing, and it works well as a mid-layer for just about any outdoor activity.
With all the different and unique features this jacket has to offer, you can expect to have to pay for them. It retails for $200, which is comparable to our Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia R3 Hoody, but double the price of our less featured Best Buy wining fleece, the Marmot Reactor.
Arc'teryx has been known for years because of their quality products that stand out amongst the rest. The Fortrez is no different. The water resistant exterior and the gaiter mask are by far the standout features of this fleece. Our testers loved using it in outdoor settings up in the mountains or at the cliff. Its sleek look even felt fashionable enough to wear in town at an open air mall or restaurant patios. Although it narrowly missed being an award winner, it is still a great buy.
Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Women's
— Kenny Barker
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 18, 2015
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