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Hands-on Gear Review
Arc'teryx Covert Hoody Review
Cons: Short hem, uncomfortable laminated pocket zippers, hood too big to fit under a helmet
Bottom line: Stylish, warm, and soft, but not the best choice for backcountry adventures.
The Arc'teryx Covert Hoody is a well constructed, casual knit style fleece that lives up to the quality we've come to expect from Arc'teryx. Snug cuffs and a waistband keep this jacket in place under a shell layer and keep drafts out, and big zipper pulls make for easy operation even with gloves on. However, our testers didn't like the short cut that rides up when they lift their arms up to reach for that next climbing hold or throw another pair of skis into the cargo box, exposing their sensitive underbellies to the cold. Overall, we feel the Patagonia Better Sweater Hoody is a more versatile stylish knit fleece.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Arc'teryx Covert Hoody is stylish, warm, heavyweight fleece for $199. It features 2 zippered hand warmer pockets and a small pocket on the left arm, perfect for keys, or a ski pass. This jacket has a relaxed, casual fit and looks as good in the mountains as it does in a more urban setting. Those with long torsos, beware. this fleece has a short hem. When the cold wind starts to blow, protect your ears and head with the deep, warm hood.
The chart below indicates the Overall Performance of the Covert compared alongside the rest of our fleece jacket fleet.
This fleece scores a respectable 7 in the warmth metric. Its high lofted knit provides plenty of toasty insulation, especially when compared to lighter, techier jackets like the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody and The North Face Fuseform Progressor Hoodie. The Covert Hoody has a looser fit than the Patagonia Better Sweater Hoody. While a few testers felt this was more comfortable, the additional space doesn't feel as warm as a snugger fit.
If you're on the lookout for a more relaxed fitting, stylish fleece, this jacket may do the trick. The Covert Hoody has a similar soft feel like the Better Sweater, but provides for a bit more room, without being as bulky as The North Face Denali 2. The hood on this fleece is loose, but not so loose that it slides around or falls off. The two handwarmer pockets are nice and soft on the inside, but more than one tester griped about the rigid laminated zippers, which felt bulky under other layers. An additional small, zippered pocket resides high on the left sleeve, perfectly positioned for a ski pass. This fleece has the shortest cut in our selection, and unless you have a very short torso, it doesn't fit well under a harness or a backpack waist belt.
The thick, warm knit loft of this fleece doesn't breathe very well. Running, hiking, or skinning in this jacket would only be appropriate on the coldest of days. This is more of a jacket for bundling up around town, or keeping warm on the chair lift than endurance heavy activities. The Patagonia Better Sweater Hoody has breathable stretchy side panels, making it more breathable and versatile than the Covert Hoody.
This jacket fits nicely under a ski jacket or any roomy hardshell. If you're one who likes the triple threat warming action of a fleece under a puffy under a shell, the Covert Hoody is too loose fitting and bulky to incorporate into this system. The stiff, laminated pocket zippers are very noticeable and annoying under lots of layers or under a harness. We'd recommend considering the Patagonia R1 or Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoody - both scored perfect 10 out of 10s for this metric.
For a fleece, the Covert Hoody holds up well against light rain, repelling mist and lighter raindrops much better than the Better Sweater, and some of the more breathable jackets like the Black Diamond CoEffiecient Hoody. This is especially advantageous considering you're likely to wear this jacket as a stand-alone layer around town, where you're unlikely to be carrying a pack with a quiver of jackets. Against the wind, this fleece is not as vulnerable as the lightweight Patagonia R1, but anything harder than a light breeze will cut right through.
Tipping the scales at 19.2oz, this is the second heaviest jacket in our line-up, 5 ounces lighter than the much warmer The North Face Denali 2. Though this fleece is only an ounce heavier than the Editors' Choice Award winning Patagonia R3 Hoody, it's not as packable, and we prefer the breathable R3 for the backcountry.
The soft, knit fleece look of the Covert Hoody exudes mountain savviness, without making you look like a total tech weenie due to the relaxed fit. Our testers weren't crazy about the off color zipper laminate strips and preferred the more casual look of the Patagonia Better Sweater Hoody. The Covert Hoody is available in five mellow, low profile colors: Argent (gray), Black, Copperwood (brown), Dark Moss, and Lt Admiral (navy).
This fleece had our testers feeling stylish and toasty warm at the boulders and on chilly winter nights around town. It works better as a stand-alone jacket than most of the fleeces in this selection due to its weather resistant capabilities, but the short cut and loose fit make it less appropriate for backcountry rambles and high mountain missions.
If you dig the fit and relaxed stylings of this jacket, then it's a decent choice for keeping warm around town, especially if you have a short torso. We feel the equally stylish Patagonia Better Sweater Hoody is a bit more versatile due to its breathability. For a fleece that is more weather resistant and also designed with style in mind, check out The North Face Denali 2.
— Matt Bento
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