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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face FuseForm Progressor Hoodie Review
Cons: No weather resistance, not very warm
Bottom line: This stylish fleece is breathable for long days in the backcountry and looks great for wearing around town.
The North Face FuseForm Progressor Hoody is a lightweight fleece that strikes an excellent balance between style and technical features. Our testers loved wearing this jacket around town just as much as they loved wearing it while warming up on the first chilly, shaded pitches of the morning. Though not as breathable as the Patagonia R1 Hoody or as warm as the Patagonia R3 Hoody, this sleek little jacket is loaded with thoughtful features that make it a great choice for climbing, spring skiing, and looking good at the pub.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The North Face FuseForm Progressor Hoody is a great model for layering that breathes well and looks cool. Our testers enjoyed wearing this jacket on backcountry ski tours, bouldering sessions and out on the town. At $179 it has two zippered handwarmer pockets, a chest pocket, and an excellent fitting hood. Additionally, this jacket is thinner in the back where you sweat the most to increase breathability and drying time.
The chart below highlights the Fuseform's Overall Performance score, allowing you to compare it alongside the other competitors in our lineup.
This jacket features a unique, triangular grid pattern insulation that is thinner across the back where you sweat the most, layered underneath a "hardface" material that resists wind and water better than more traditional, lofty fleece design like the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II. Because the material is thin, it's not as warm as the Monkey Man, the Patagonia R3, or the super breathable Patagonia R1. Without much loft, this fleece can't trap much hot air around your body, however, the wind-resistant shell fabric does give this jacket a warmer feel than the superlight Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody.
We gave the Progressor Fleece Hoodie a solid 8 in the comfort metric, due to the slim, but not too tight cut, and the excellent fitting hood. Additionally, the elastic cuffs and waist are tight enough to keep the cold air out but have enough give that they aren't uncomfortable. Our rock climbing testers with pumped, bulging forearms did find that the cuffs were too tight to pull up their sleeves. This jacket does not have as soft a feel the similarly "hardfaced" Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, and doesn't score as high as the super soft Patagonia Better Sweater, or the Marmot Reactor.
Though this model is more wind resistant than most of the jackets in this review, it sacrifices breathability. Air and moisture just don't pass through the tightly woven shell fabric as well as the looser fabrics on the Patagonia R3 or the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II. The thinner lining on the back of the jacket does offer some relief, especially when hiking uphill, and also allows for the jacket to dry out faster in the place where we sweat the most. The Progressor Fleece breathes better than the thick "style-y" fleece jackets in our review like the Patagonia Better Sweater, Arc'teryx Covert Hoody, and The North Face Denali 2.
The soft, flexible fabrics and zipper pulls on this jacket make for a solid layering piece. When layered under a puffy synthetic insulator and a hardshell, our lead tester felt that the Progressor fleece didn't restrict his movement or catch on other layers. The cut of this jacket is big enough that we never felt that tight get-me-out-of-this-thing panic we get sometimes when we're too bundled up, earning it a 7 out of 10. At the same time, the slim cut and snug cuffs and waist do an excellent job of keeping the jacket from moving around and bunching up underneath other layers. The only downside of this jacket in terms of layering is the relative lack of breathability, making adjustments like pit zips on your outer layers less effective at venting out the hot air from your core. High scorers in this metric include the Patagonia R1 and the Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoody. - the only contenders to score 10 out of 10s in this metric.
This thin fleece is no match for even the lightest of precip. When rain lands on this jacket, it immediately soaks through. The wind also cuts right through, so on days when poor weather is in the forecast, you'll definitely need a rain jacket. The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody though vulnerable to anything heavier than a light drizzle, is a better option for those looking for some weather resistance in a fleece.
Weighing in at 15.9oz, this jacket is no heavyweight, though considering that the Patagonia R3 Hoody is only 2oz heavier and much warmer, the FuseForm Progressor doesn't have a very good warmth to weight ratio. The similarly styled Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is 3oz lighter, a touch warmer, and significantly more weather resistant.
We gave this jacket a perfect 10 for style! While this metric is highly subjective, our testers (and their girlfriends) were impressed that the Progressor fleece looks great in an urban, casual setting, paired with some fancy jeans, even though it has so many technical features. If it fits, this could be your go everywhere, do everything jacket.
This piece is a flexible, good all-rounder, equally at home on a breezy multi-pitch rock climb in the shade, or a short spring ski tour. If you're looking for a similar jacket that is a touch warmer, check out the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody. For a better layering option, the Patagonia R1 is slimmer, more breathable, and is comfortable enough to sleep in.
If it fits, it fits well and we feel you'll get a lot of mileage out of this jacket considering it's thoughtful construction and good looks. At $179, it's twice the price of our Best Buy Award Winning Marmot Reactor, but less expensive than the similar Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody.
The North Face FuseForm Progressor Hoody is a thoughtfully designed jacket that our testers were always grabbing on their way out to the boulders or the bar. It's not the warmest jacket in our review or the best for layering, but if you're looking for one fleece jacket that does everything well (and looks good), check it out!
— Matt Bento
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