Take the sweet ninja-style built-in balaclava from the Arc'teryx Fortrez and combine it with a lightweight grid fleece and thumb loops reminiscent of the Patagonia R1 Hoody, and you've got the breathable, functional Arc'teryx Konseal. This version of the classic half-zip is one of the most functional fleeces in our test making it a tester favorite. This fleece has all the marks of a true Arc'teryx piece. The lines are clean and trim, and the features are designed with obvious attention to detail. Kind-of like the Tesla of the outdoor industry.
Arc'teryx Konseal Hoody Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
In this test, we put this fleece pullover toe to toe with the R1. A few of the significant differences include a shorter zipper, a shorter hemline, and the addition of face mask, a feature that we feel provides more comfortable coverage than the R1's just "zip it up to your nose" strategy.
The Konseal packs in a good amount of warmth for how much it weighs. The grid fleece traps warm air well, and we found the warmth to be right on par with other half-zip fleeces. The hood fits well and moves perfectly with your head keeping your ears and chin warm, and for when the clouds roll in, and the wind picks up, there is a neck gaiter/face mask feature that you can bust out, which, when not in use, lays flat behind your neck.
The fit of the Konseal is just about perfect; trim but not too snug. Against the skin, it has a soft feel, but because of the small grid squares, it doesn't have the same plush, lofty feel to the "pillows" that the Patagonia R1 has. This jacket was so comfortable that, once we put it on, we had a hard time taking it off. On long backpacking trips, we found we never took it off.
The Konseal has a tighter exterior knit than some similar pieces making it slightly less breathable. This is a good thing when it comes to weather resistance and durability, but not for breathability. This may have cost them a slightly in this metric, but overall, this fleece breathes pretty well, and the long zipper goes a long way to help cool yourself down.
This fleece earns top marks for layering due to its near-perfect fit. When we used it under a shell or puffy, we had no excess material bunch up in the sleeves, shoulders, or around the waist. The hard-faced fleece exterior glides smoothly into any shell, and the thumb loops make sure your sleeve stays down. For these reasons, this is one of the best layering pieces in our comparison.
Arc'teryx describes this fleece as having a "hard face", but when compared to their own Fortrez Hoody, for instance, the Konseal has a softer feel and offers less resistance to light rain. Our testers found this to be a decent barrier to a light breeze, but this is neither a wind shell nor a rain shell, so if weather is in the forecast, bring the appropriate shell and take advantage of this jackets' superb layering abilities.
At 13.6 oz for a size large, the Konseal isn't going to raise any eyebrows among ultralight folks, but if the jacket fits well and you dig the balaclava feature, it is worth the few extra ounces.
Nothing too offensive here, this jacket has a simple uniform color, slim fit, and clean lines making it score pretty well in this metric. We wouldn't think twice about taking this straight from the preschool drop-off line, to the crag for a few pitches, and back to meet your wife and kids back at the restaurant at the end of the day.
This price is within reason for such a well-constructed fleece with great features. We didn't go out of our way to destroy our Konseal, but we certainly did enough bushwhacking, scrambling, and crack climbing to be sure that this jacket isn't going to fall apart anytime soon.
For those seeking an R1 alternative that doesn't have a super long hem and want the advantage of a built-in-balaclava on powder days, look no further than the Konseal.
— Adam Paashaus & Matt Bento