Kuhl Interceptr Review
Cons: Not very breathable, heavy
Our Analysis and Test Results
This jacket receives similar scores to The North Face Denali 2 and the Patagonia Better Sweater Hoody. It's lighter than the Denali, making it easier to pack away and better for layering. The Better Sweater has a hood and is more breathable than the Interceptr, making it more versatile for around town and backcountry use. The Interceptr sits between these two popular fleece, leaning more towards front country stylings and less towards backcountry functionality.
Using Kuhl's proprietary Alfpalca Gold Fleece panels for warmth, the Interceptr kept our testers insulated well on the ski lift, and we felt very comfortable blasting down the hill in warm spring conditions. The Alfpaca fleece is thicker than the grid style breathable fleece used in the Patagonia R1 Hoody, the Outdoor Research Transition, and the Outdoor Research Deviator, and feels warmer than all of them, at the sacrifice of breathability. The heavier model like The North Face Denali 2 is warmer, but the Interceptr is a more versatile piece that works better for layering than the Denali.
This fleece has a relaxed fit that is almost too relaxed for layering but feels great on top of a t-shirt or a light sweater. The hemline sits well below the hips, adding to its warmth and causing it to sit nicely under a climbing harness. This jacket has four big pockets, two zippered handwarmer pockets, and two chest pockets. You carry two water bottles and plenty of snacks in the massive pockets of the Interceptr.
Once your pulse goes up and your breathing gets heavy, you're going to get sweaty in this jacket and need to shed it. Breathability isn't the Interceptr's strong suit, though it uses panels of a thinner weave material they call Kashmira to make the jacket a little more breathable. The difference between the materials isn't as dramatic as the power stretch panels on the Patagonia Performance Better Sweater Hoody, where our testers could feel the cold coming in, and presumably, warm air venting out.
While we mentioned earlier that this jacket has a bulkier cut that some of our favorite layering pieces. Still, the Interceptr layers much better than the hulking The North Face Denali 2. Thumb loops helped our testers slide this fleece into a shell, and the arms and shoulders are much more form-fitting than the Denali.
Thickness alone boosts this jacket's weather resistance marginally, but when it comes to light rain, you will get wet wearing this fleece. To be fair, keeping out the rain isn't what most fleeces are designed for, but now we're seeing lots of hybrid designs like the Patagonia Techface R1 and the Arc'teryx Procline that can hold the precip at bay a little longer while you sprint back to the car.
This fleece looks great with a flannel and a pair of jeans, perfect mountain town attire. You can get this fleece in low-key colors: Shale, Black, Mutiny Blue, Oatmeal, and Charcoal.
At $129, you get a warm, well-constructed jacket for at least $50 less than the average fleece from Patagonia or Arc'teryx, and we feel that's a pretty good deal. For a really good deal take a look at our current Best Buy Award winner, a more breathable jacket than the Interceptr at an even better price.
For those looking for a cozy fleece for the urban jungle that won't leave you shivering in the side country, the Interceptr fits the bill. For any activity where you'll be working hard, we suggest a more breathable fleece like the Patagonia R1 Hoody or the Outdoor Research Deviator.
Bargain hunters looking for a comfortable fleece won't be disappointed in the Kuhl Interceptr. Though this jacket doesn't perform as well as our award winners, the Interceptr will keep you looking sharp and feeling warm on cool November afternoons and breezy spring mornings.
— Matt Bento