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Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody Review

A sleek fleece that layers well and has a unique and useful balaclava feature
Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody
Photo: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $225 List
Pros:  Great hood, handwarmer pockets, wind resistant
Cons:  Zipper prone to sticking, not as breathable as jackets with gridded fleece
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Buck Yedor & Adam Paashaus  ⋅  Nov 4, 2020
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Breathability - 20% 6
  • Layering Ability - 15% 8
  • Weather resistance - 10% 8
  • Weight - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is a thoughtfully designed, super comfy technical fleece with a unique balaclava feature and slim, climber-centric fit. The wind resistance offered by the "hard face" fabric was helpful on gusty belays and windy summit hikes, and we loved the water-resistance as well. No fleece will take the place of a rain shell, but light rain will bead up on the surface of this one. This midweight fleece is ideal for cool weather or heavy activity in colder temps.

Looking to Ditch the Hood?
Arc'teryx also makes this award-winning fleece without the hood. Check out the Fortrez Jacket if you're looking to cut down on bulk in your layering system.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $225 List$99.00 at Backcountry$86.96 at Amazon$159.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$125 List
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Pros Great hood, handwarmer pockets, wind resistantCozy, athletic fit, breathable, lightweightBreathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athleticsPerfect fit for most active uses, ideal weight for many conditions, great hood designLightweight, long zipper, chest pocket, thumb loops
Cons Zipper prone to sticking, not as breathable as jackets with gridded fleecePoor weather resistance, no thumb loopsNot incredibly warm, poor weather resistanceNot as warm for its weight as some high-loft modelsLess breathable
Bottom Line Chock full of useful features, it's well-designed, complete with a handy balaclavaA warmer and more comfortable version of the classic R1It is hard to beat the value of this high performing and cost effective fleeceAn ideal fleece for almost anything you can think of, you'll never want to take it offThis fleece makes a great layering option for active days in the mountains
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody Patagonia R1 Air Vigor Full Zip Patagonia R1 Hoody Type 2 Fun 3/4 Zip Hoody
Warmth (20%)
8
8
8
7
6
Comfort (20%)
8
9
8
8
9
Breathability (20%)
6
9
9
9
8
Layering Ability (15%)
8
9
9
9
10
Weather Resistance (10%)
8
7
7
6
6
Weight (15%)
8
9
9
9
8
Specs Arc'teryx Fortrez... Patagonia R1 Air Vigor Full Zip Patagonia R1 Hoody Type 2 Fun 3/4 Zip...
Type Midweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight
Weight 13.2 oz 9.7 oz 12 oz 11.1 oz 11.7 oz
Main Material Polartec power stretch with hardface technology - 88% polyester, 12% elastane, 230 g/m² 100% recycled polyester Grid-back fleece: 94% polyester, 6% spandex 6.9-oz polartec power grid 93% recycled polyester 7% spandex with Polygiene permanent odor control 55% polypropylene, 45% polyester
# of Pockets 3 1 3 1 1
Unique Features Integrated neck gaiter doubles as balaclava, streamlined hood fits udner climbing helmets, gusseted underarms for unrestricted movement Hollow-core fabric is highly breathable for high-output activities
offset shoulder seams
Balaclava style hood, thumb loops, Balaclava style hood, thumb loops, Polygiene permanent odor control, longer length to stay tucked under a harness Helmet-compatible hood
Hood Option Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Fortrez Full Zip Hoody is a midweight and semi weather-resistant fleece built for adventuring in the mountains. This fleece was one of the better options for those looking for a stand-alone piece that offers a decent blend of warmth, wind protection, and adequate breathability. Our testers, however, were endlessly frustrated with the main zipper that would frequently get stuck on the fabric chin protector when trying to zip up the last few inches of the fleece. With unique features like a built-in balaclava and gusseted arms that keep your overhead movements from being restricted, the design team at Ar'teryx created a fleece to keep up with the demanding needs of climbers and skiers.

Performance Comparison


The Fortrez is a specialized fleece that has great wind and water...
The Fortrez is a specialized fleece that has great wind and water resistance.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Warmth


The Fortrez Hoody is one of the warmest fleeces we tested. It incorporates "hard faced technology," which is referring to the outermost layer of fabric. This layer of fleece was designed to be more abrasion and wind-resistant. Due to this finish, the outermost layer is less permeable, inherently making it a better insulator.


The neck gaiter/balaclava feature is nice when the wind picks up, and you want the extra protection from the elements. Our lead tester, who initially scoffed at what appeared to be a gimmicky feature, used it constantly on cold mornings while backpacking. The thin material sits comfortably under your neck, and can easily be pulled up over the face, even with a helmet, gloves, and multiple layers on. It's much easier to use than the traditional zip-up face mask on other lightweight fleeces in our review. While on the warmer side of performance fleece, this jacket is still fairly lightweight and will need to be combined with additional layers when it gets anywhere close to freezing, and your movement is minimal.

This fleece is designed for maximum range of motion, though our lead...
This fleece is designed for maximum range of motion, though our lead tester found it to be a smidge tight across the shoulders.
Photo: Jenni Snead

Comfort


The Polartech Power Stretch fleece material is full of tiny, fuzzy hairs that felt great against our skin. The cut is long enough to accommodate wearing a harness without riding up, but the handwarmer pockets can get caught or bunched under the harness or a waist belt if the fit isn't just right, rendering them uncomfortable and inaccessible. On occasion, the metal zipper pull would be painful under our backpack waist belt. This docked it comfort points.


The balaclava feature is quick and easy to whip out, and it goes...
The balaclava feature is quick and easy to whip out, and it goes away just the same.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

The hood moves with your head well and is low profile enough to fit pretty well under a ski or climbing helmet but the stiffer fabric made for a bulkier fit than some of the lighter weight options with grid-based fleece.

The hood has a little bulk under a helmet, but overall it works just...
The hood has a little bulk under a helmet, but overall it works just fine.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Breathability


The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody has a tough time breathing well due to the hard-faced exterior fabric. We found under normal conditions, as soon as we started working hard, we needed to unzip or take the jacket off completely.


On super cold days, however, the lack of breathability (i.e., wind resistance) meant we could use this as a stand-alone piece that managed our temperature fairly well. If you are looking for a breathable, lightweight fleece for layering, there are better options, but the Fortrez is an excellent fleece that has a place in any fleece quiver.

Under a climbing harness, the pocket zippers get in the way.
Under a climbing harness, the pocket zippers get in the way.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Layering Ability


This fleece's trim cut and smooth fabric exterior help it to slide easily under a puffy or a shell. Though it doesn't have thumb loops, the snug sleeves and cuffs stay in place well without bunching up or feeling too tight. It doesn't layer as well as fleeces without handwarmer pockets, but the low-profile zippers and micro cord zipper pulls help make it a decent layering piece.


While the outside has a smooth face fabric conducive to layering, the interior fabric conversely has tiny hairs that do not like to slide smoothly over other materials and, therefore not ideal for layering over anything other than a lightweight base layer or t-shirt.

This jacket was one of the most weather resistant in our fleet...
This jacket was one of the most weather resistant in our fleet. Light precip beaded up and rolled off the "hardface" exterior of this fleece.
Photo: Matt Bento

Weather Resistance


This jacket shines in the weather resistance metric. In our rain tests, mist and light rain beaded up on the outside of the jacket exceptionally well, where we could easily shake it off, leading to a much faster drying time. If this fleece sees more than a brief misting, however, water will make its way right in.


The Fortrez was one of the most wind-resistant fleece jackets in our lineup due to the Powerstretch fabric with its hard face exterior. We used this on long cold backpacking trips and windy days at the crag, and this protected our testers against light winds better than most. If the temps drop or the winds get too gusty, you are going to be reaching for your wind layer a wind layer, but for mildly breezy conditions, no other fleece performed as well.

Not the lightest or the most packable, but this fleece has its place...
Not the lightest or the most packable, but this fleece has its place in your pack for certain activities especially when its going to be windy or wet out.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Weight


Tipping the scales at 17 ounces, the Fortrez Hoody is heavier than many other lightweight options. The full-length zipper and handwarmer pockets make it bulky, but if pockets are your thing, you'll hardly notice the extra weight. We found that we enjoyed this for an all-around cool weather fleece, but for the weight, others have a better performance ratio.


Just as with most Arc'teryx jackets, this is on the techy side but...
Just as with most Arc'teryx jackets, this is on the techy side but looks okay out in public.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Style


The Fortrez has a slim cut and a techy look that works well in mountain towns, but elsewhere could come off as a little too much. However, we found it more versatile in the style metric than the classic R1 Hoody with its patchwork appearance of having two colors and fabric weights. This fleece overall has a fine style that doesn't stand out too much in the front-country (i.e., town), but if you want something to be more for casual use in town, check out our other options.

Value


The quality workmanship we've come to expect from Arc'teryx comes at a higher price. If this fleece has the features you are looking for in a jacket, then this jacket may hold a high value to you, but we found the price a bit high, especially considering what else you can get for that amount of dough. Don't get us wrong, Arc'teryx jackets have a certain level of attention-to-detail unmatched by other brands, but we feel there are better options for the price.

Go climb a rock and look good at the same time.
Go climb a rock and look good at the same time.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Conclusion


The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody makes a great versatile jacket for cool days in dry climates like the Sierra and the Utah desert. The neck gaiter is extremely useful. We never noticed it when it was tucked away, but as soon as the wind picked up or the temps dropped, that thing came out and was much appreciated. Though not a standout piece for layering or breathability, this model is a solid choice for the discerning climber or skier looking for a weather-resistant jacket.

Buck Yedor & Adam Paashaus