The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan - Women's Review

A stylish fleece jacket that's a great outer layer for casual wear.
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Price:  $179 List | $123.40 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, warm
Cons:  Expensive, not very technical or breathable
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Amber King & Cam McKenzie Ring  ⋅  Oct 17, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Warmth - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 6
  • Layering Ability - 20% 6
  • Ease of Movement - 15% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 5% 7

Our Verdict

We're guessing that the Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan got its name from the fact that it's a fleece jacket masquerading as a wool jacket. The fleece fibers are knitted and look very much like wool knit, but the inside is brushed fleece and much softer than most wools. This jacket is warm and very stylish, but also expensive and not the best option for the mountains. It's not that breathable, nor does it layer well. It does look great on, and it's an excellent option for casual wear, be that at the office, heading out on a cool night, or other non-aerobic pursuits. It's our top choice when we're heaving out on the town, but one we leave at home when we need a fleece that will showcase technical performance.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Stylish, warmBreathable, durable, helmet compatible hood, awesome thermoregulation, high valueBalaclava hood with neck gaiter, good wind and water protection for a fleeceLightweight, breathable, full-length zipper and a hoodSuper cozy materials, stylish, lightweight, warm
Cons Expensive, not very technical or breathableNot weather resistant, expensiveNot very breathable, expensiveNot very warm, no weather resistanceExpensive, not the most breathable, zipper slips
Bottom Line A stylish fleece jacket that's a great outer layer for casual wear.The reigning champion that simply can't be beat for versatility.A technical jacket for alpine and ice climbing, or other active sports in colder climates.This light fleece is a high-performance layer that is breathable and comfortable.The lightweight and stylish fleece is built for town and leisurely hikes.
Rating Categories Covert Cardigan R1 Full Zip Hoody Fortrez Hoody Rab Nucleus Hoody - Women's Kyanite Hoody
Warmth (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Breathability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Layering Ability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Ease Of Movement (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Weather Resistance (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
6
Specs Covert Cardigan R1 Full Zip Hoody Fortrez Hoody Rab Nucleus Hoody... Kyanite Hoody
Type Midweight Midweight Midweight Lightweight Lightweight
Main Fabric Alpenex heathered 100% polyester Polartec PowerGrid(93% recycled polyester/7% spandex) Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology (88% polyester, 12% elastane) Thermic fleece & Power Grid Nylon, polyester
Unique Features Laminated sleeve pocket, gusseted underarms Hidden zippered pocket, balaclava hood fits under a helmet, brick-patterned insulation balances breathability and warmth Balaclava hood with neck gaiter Close fitting hood fits under a helmet Stretchy, abrasion-resistant fabric, gussets for movement
Weight (ounces) 14.5 11.9 11.9 11.2 11.2
# of Pockets 3 (2 hand, 1 arm) 2 (hand), 1 hidden zippered pocket (right hand) 3 (2 hand, 1 arm) 2 (hand) 2 hand
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan is made with "alpenex" fleece, which is a knit polyester designed to mimic the appearance of wool. It has two hand pockets with taped seams and a small pocket on the upper left bicep.

Performance Comparison


The Covert is a good-looking fleece and well-suited to general wear  but not the best option for mountain pursuits.
The Covert is a good-looking fleece and well-suited to general wear, but not the best option for mountain pursuits.

Warmth


The Covert is a warm layer for cold days. It offers this warmth in a relatively packable package that isn't too bulky or heavy. There's no hood, which would make it even warmer, offering some functionality to layer it underneath an even warmer jacket on super cold days.

The hand pockets help keep you warmer on cold days.
The hand pockets help keep you warmer on cold days.

Comfort


This isn't the coziest fleece in our test group. The brushed inner fleece is comfortable against the skin, but the outer material is a little stiff and not as soft as other fleeces. There is a soft microfleece lining the collar, which we appreciate, especially on cold days. The handwarmer pockets are cozy, offering another creature comfort that we love.

The collar has a softer micro-fleece  but the stiffer material makes this model less cozy than others.
The collar has a softer micro-fleece, but the stiffer material makes this model less cozy than others.

Breathability


This jacket lacks a little in the breathability department, particularly when compared to the high-performance fleeces that we tested. The material is a little thick, and there's no option for ventings, like micro holes or grid lines. As such, when hiking in this layer, we quickly overheated and then got sweaty. The Arc'teryx Covert isn't the jacket you want to wear while moving fast in the mountains, but it still works well as a summit layer.

Layering Ability and Ease of Movement


We are also a little less psyched about this jacket's performance in these two categories. The cut is a bit tight in the shoulders, which is fine for a casual fleece but not the best if you intend to move in it a lot. We couldn't fit more than a thin base layer underneath it, and it didn't feel comfortable under another layer, like a rain jacket. The material doesn't have that much stretch to it, and we didn't get great range of motion in the shoulders or arms.

This isn't the best option to wear under a pack or harness. The length is on the shorter side  and the fit is not that tapered so it bunches up a bit at the waist.
This isn't the best option to wear under a pack or harness. The length is on the shorter side, and the fit is not that tapered so it bunches up a bit at the waist.

Weather Resistance


The flat and non-porous material does a better job of blocking the wind than the gridded or hi-loft fleeces, but water still absorbs right into it. As a result, like most fleeces, we'd recommend using a shell to provide better protection from the weather.

Water went right into and through this material. It does block the wind a little though.
Water went right into and through this material. It does block the wind a little though.

Value


This jacket retails for $179, putting it on the higher end of the price spectrum. You would think that the purpose of a fleece jacket designed to look like wool would be to reduce the price a little (wool is notoriously expensive), but this is about what we'd pay for a wool sweater also.

This is a great casual fleece jacket that looks more like a wool one. It's not the one you want to wear when hiking fast or rock climbing  but it's great for general use.
This is a great casual fleece jacket that looks more like a wool one. It's not the one you want to wear when hiking fast or rock climbing, but it's great for general use.

Conclusion


We like the Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan a lot. It's not the most technical fleece that we tested, and it didn't win any awards as such, but it's still a great jacket. It's stylish and warm, and we like the different looks that the knitted material gives it. Like most Arc'teryx pieces, it's a little expensive, but the quality of construction does help justify the price a little. Pick this one up if you already have a closet full of technical fleeces and want something for more casual wear.

The taped seams and knitted material gives this jacket a sleek look.
The taped seams and knitted material gives this jacket a sleek look.


Amber King & Cam McKenzie Ring