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Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody Review


Fleece Jacket

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Price:   Varies from $149 - $199 online  —  Compare at 4 sellers
Pros:  Great hood design, handwarmer pockets, water resistant.
Cons:  Not as warm as other jackets, loose hem, not long enough to fit nicely under a harness.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx

Overview

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

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Kenny Barker
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday
December 18, 2015
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.

Performance Comparison


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The smooth surface of the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody. It's made with Polartec Power Stretch with "Hardface Technology," which does a good job blocking a light wind.

Warmth


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.

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The gaiter mask is the most unique feature of the Fortrez. It keeps the nose and cheeks warm, and when not needed it can sit below the chin or be stowed away at the back of the hood.

Comfort


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.

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This jacket is fairly comfortable to wear, though the "hardface" fleece is not as cozy as a high-loft model.

Breathability


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.

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This jacket worked well for hiking to the cliff on a cold day, but it is not as breathable as the R1 Hoody.

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.

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The Fortrez layered over top of the R1 Hoody. There's enough room to fit a heavy baselayer underneath it, and it's slim athletic fit lets you layer it under a shell or puffy jacket as well.

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.

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This was the only fleece we tested that actually repelled water from the jacket. The "hardface" fleece material makes a light rain bead up and roll off this jacket. It still saturates through in a heavy rain, so you'll still need a rain jacket in wet climates.

Weight


This fleece technically is a midweight model (it's made with 230 g/m 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.

Best Applications


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.

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Spotting on cold climbing days is a great use of this jacket. The length is a little short to fit well under a harness though, and the looser fitting hem allowed chilly air to slip in a bit.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Other Versions


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Fortrez Jacket
  • 12.9 ounces
  • No hood
  • $189.

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Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Women's
  • The women's version of this jacket
  • $200

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Fortrez Beanie
  • Polertec PowerStretch material
  • Warm and snug fitting
  • $25
Kenny Barker

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 18, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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by Kenny Barker & Eric Schnepel


Unbiased.