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Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody Review

Arc'teryx Fortrez
Price:   $199 List | $159.20 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great hood design, handwarmer pockets, water resistant
Cons:  Not as warm as other jackets, not as breathable as jackets with gridded fleece
Bottom line:  The Fortrez is a sleek fleece that layers well and has a unique and useful balaclava feature.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx

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. Our testers loved wearing this jacket as a stand alone piece on warm spring skiing days, as it's "hardface" style outer layer staves off light breezes. It's also a nice climbing jacket on windier days, but it doesn't breathe as well as the Patagonia R1 Hoody or the warmer, Editors' Choice Award winning Patagonia R3. If layering isn't your primary concern in a fleece, or you're a die-hard Arc'teryx brand loyalist, you won't be disappointed in the Fortrez.

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.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Fleece Jacket for Men Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Matt Bento
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 17, 2017

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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 Macaw blue, Aruna red, Carbon Copy grey, Rodhei green, and Odysseus black (with green edges).

Performance Comparison


The chart below highlights the Fortez's Overall Performance score compared with all of the contenders in our fleet.


This jacket is cut long enough so that it fits well under a harness  but close inspection reveals that those handwarmer pockets are hard to access when the harness is on.
This jacket is cut long enough so that it fits well under a harness, but close inspection reveals that those handwarmer pockets are hard to access when the harness is on.

Warmth


This fleece is thin and lightweight, lacking the lofty fur of the Patagonia R3 or the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II. If you're going to wear the Fortrez in cold climates, it needs to be paired with a thicker insulating layer. Fortunately, its sleek cut makes for easy layering. The neck gaiter/balaclava feature is really nice when you want to feel extra cozy. Our lead tester, who initially scoffed at what appeared to be a gimmicky feature, used it constantly while skiing. 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 the Patagonia R1 and the Patagonia R3.

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

Comfort


The Polartech Power Stretch fleece material is full of tiny, fuzzy hairs that felt great against our skin — softer than the similar but less warm The North Face Fuseform Progressor Hoodie. The cut is long enough to accommodate a harness without riding up, but the hand warmer 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. This docked it some comfort points when compared to the Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody and the Patagonia R1 Hoody, which both feature only a chest pocket. The hood is low profile and fits well under a ski or climbing helmet. Our lead tester isn't the biggest or broadest of dudes, but this fleece still felt a smidge too tight across the shoulders, especially when fully zipped.

Breathability


The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody breathes as well as the Marmot Reactor and The North Face Fuseform Progressor Hoodie, but doesn't come close the breathable grid designs used in the Patagonia R1 Hoody or the Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody. We attribute this to its weather resistant hardface outer layer, which keeps out light rain much better than the aforementioned fleeces but doesn't breathe as well. While skinning up the mountain or on a run, we found ourselves completely unzipping this fleece, or taking it off completely.

Snug cuffs keep the sleeves in place well without the aid of thumb loops.
Snug cuffs keep the sleeves in place well without the aid of thumb loops.

Layering Ability


This fleece's trim cut makes it slide under a puffy or a shell fairly easily. Though it doesn't have thumb loops, the snug sleeves and cuffs stay in place well without bunching up or feeling too tight. Underneath the Fortrez you're not going to want to wear anything heavier than a lightweight base layer or a t-shirt. 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.

This jacket was the second most weather resistant model behind the North Face Denali 2. Light precip beaded up and rolled off the "hardface" exterior of this fleece.
This jacket was the second most weather resistant model behind the North Face Denali 2. Light precip beaded up and rolled off the "hardface" exterior of this fleece.

Weather Resistance


This jacket really stands out in the weather resistance metric, only topped by the heavy The North Face Denali II. In our rain tests, mist and light rain beaded up on the outside of the jacket, where we could easily shake it off, leading to a faster drying time. In heavier rain, you're going to need a waterproof hardshell. The North Face Fuseform Progressor Fleece Hoody has a similar "hardface" feel but doesn't come close to the water resistant properties of the Fortrez. This fleece also protected our testers against light winds better than most, but we recommend a wind layer when it really starts to blow.

Weight


Tipping the scales at 13.2oz, the Fortrez Hoody is only marginally heavier than lightweight options like the Marmot Reactor or the Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody. More pockets make it bulkier than the R1 or the Coefficient Hoody, but if pockets are your thing, you'll hardly notice the extra weight.

We thought the balaclava feature was awesome! it can be used as a neck warmer  or face mask and when it's tucked away behind your head you'll forget it's even there.
We thought the balaclava feature was awesome! it can be used as a neck warmer, or face mask and when it's tucked away behind your head you'll forget it's even there.

Style


A little tight and a little techy, the Fortrez Hoody isn't as at home in the urban jungle as its cousin The Arc'teryx Covert Hoody or the stylish Patagonia Better Sweater, but the color selection will let you be as loud or low profile as you desire. The Fortrez is available in Aruna (red), Carbon Copy (gray), Macaw (blue), Odysseus (black), and Rohdei (green).

Best Applications


This fleece is an excellent outer layer for chilly days at the crag or as a layering piece for a day at the resort. It holds up to the rain (but not too much rain) better than any other lightweight fleece.

Value


The quality workmanship we've come to expect from Arc'teryx comes at a price. The Fortrez 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 winning fleece, the Marmot Reactor.

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 and we never noticed it when it when it was tucked away, and our testers appreciated a fleece with water resistant capabilities. Though not a standout for layering or breathability, this model is a solid choice for the discerning climber or skier.
Matt Bento

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 17, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 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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