Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $375
Pros: Furry and comfortable interior adds more insulation than most soft shells, stylish
Cons: Not very versatile, expensive, tight sleeves make it hard to layer underneath
Best Uses: As a mid-layer under more protective shells, as a daily layer for light weather protection
Is it a fleece? Is it a softshell? The Hyllus Hoody manages to bridge the gap between both types of layers. Similar to how the Patagonia Mixed Guide Hoody – Women's combines both hardshell and softshell protection, the Hyllus hoody combines the lofty, soft, insulating comfort of a fleece and the wind and water resistance of a softshell while retaining the breathable properties of both. Labeled by Arc'teryx as a "Hardfleece," we feel that the Hyllus Hoody is best categorized as a softshell, since it works better as an outer layer in mild weather than as a mid-layer underneath more protective jackets. When viewed in terms of price, the Hyllus Hoody far out-prices any fleece and fits more in the range of a softshell (even then, it's the most expensive piece in this review). Ultimately, we think this is an excellent jacket for low-exertion activities such as walking and short hikes since the insulation fleece can become too warm for high-exertion activities such as running. As long as you can afford it, the Hyllus makes a wonderful casual layer for activities where a little insulation is desired along with protection from light wind and moisture, such as walking the dog, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and as an everyday jacket during spring and fall.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
With a water-resistant, hard-faced exterior and a high-loft, fleecy interior, the Hyllus Hoody combines the features of both a fleece and a softshell, doing neither job particularly well, but creating its own niche category in the middle where this jacket shines.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
Though this jacket combines features of both a fleece and a softshell, when scored against other softshells, it emerged in the middle of the pack, proving that it can hold its own in this category. Both fleeces and softshells are breathable, and the Hyllus Hoody, made with Polartec® Power Shield® O2 High Loft, is no different, even though the plush interior fleece insulates at the same time. We found it to be less breathable than thin and stretchy jackets like the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody – Women's but more breathable than the hardshell-esque OR Enchainment. Additionally, the mesh-lined hand pockets can be left un-zipped for additional ventilation.
The Hyllus hoody protects from light wind and rain, but is not windproof. It is far more water resistant than a typical fleece, but less water resistant than some of the high performing softshells like the Outdoor Research Enchainment – Women's. We think it offers the perfect amount of protection for versatile daily outdoor use.
The Hyllus features Arc'teryx's pristine attention to detail. This includes a well-thought-out, articulated fit. The arms move easily with the wearer, and even though this jacket is thicker than others we tested, it does not feel restrictive. Our only complaint is that the hem is a little too short. We prefer the longer cut of the Columbia Kruser Ridge – Women's which looks flattering and provides more protective coverage.
At just over a pound, the Hyllus Hoody is surprisingly light for a shell jacket that also provides some insulation. It does not feel heavy when on, and leaves the wearer feeling unencumbered. Overall, it's a lightweight layer that you can easily toss into a backpack on a day hike.
The Hyllus Hoody has a laminated hem drawcord that can be tightened to keep out wind. While we like this feature on our outer layers, this drawcord is one of the details that prevents the Hyllus Hoody from functioning well as a mid-layer. This drawcord becomes uncomfortable when tucked in or layered underneath other jackets. The Hyllus has an insulated hood that adjusts around the face to keep out weather. This hood does not fit over a helmet.
The close-fitting stretch woven cuffs do not adjust to fit over gloves, but instead fit well underneath other jackets for when you want to wear this piece as a mid-layer. It features several pockets, but a few of them are not all that useful. The two zippered hand pockets are mesh-lined and double as vents. Then there is the trademark Arc'teryx laminated sleeve pocket (which we never use) and two interior drop-in mesh pockets. On our size small jacket, these pockets are limited in their usefulness. A hand cannot fit all the way in the pocket, so small items that fall to the bottom are difficult to retrieve. However, they perfectly fit a smartphone, and allow for a balanced way to carry bulky electronic accessories.
The sleek look of the Hyllus Hoody is one of its best features. The hard-face is abrasion resistant and doesn't pill or show wear like a fleece jacket would, so it continually looks shiny and new. It is form-fitting, available in fun colors, and manages to look more casual than technical. The look blends into everyday and around town wear while keeping the wearer looking put-together and polished.
The Hyllus Hoody can be worn a few ways. It can serve in place of a fleece and be worn as a mid-layer underneath a shell for activities such as skiing and snowboarding. However, we find it to be a little bulky and restrictive for this application, and the hemline is much too short to function well for snow snowsports (something that can be tucked in is better). Additionally, the drawcord and cinches around the bottom become uncomfortable in a mid-layer. The bulky hood further prevents it from being an ideal mid-layer- who wants a hood squished against their back underneath their outer shell? It can be worn in place of a softshell for low-exertion activities such as hiking, walking, or camping and offers protection from light weather while it insulates. It can work as both a casual softshell or casual fleece and be worn in every day situations such as running errands, heading to a friend's house for dinner, or biking to a coffee shop for some computer time. Its best use: bringing along on any trip or activity as an extra layer for when it cools down in the evening. Overall, it is a versatile layer, but is limited in its performance as a either a breathable shell or a mid-layer fleece.
This jacket has narrow applications as a technical layer, but really excels for casual wear. But can you justify spending almost $400 on a casual-but-sometimes-technical piece? At the same price you could purchase a high performing fleece AND a down jacket. We do think the hard-face of this fleece adds significant durability, so you could plan on wearing this jacket for years to come.
We enjoy wearing this piece. It is comfortable, flattering, and just the right combination of warmth and weather resistance. It easily became a go-to layer for when we head out of the house. However, we don't think the end use justifies the price.
This piece also comes in a men's version, the Arc'teryx Hyllus Hoody, (when we reviewed the men's version, we compared it with fleeces instead of other softshell jackets). It can also be purchased in a non-hooded version and there is a Hyllus Hat.
— McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: March 8, 2014
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