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.
Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Stylish, warm
Cons: Expensive, not very technical or breathable
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Amber King & Cam McKenzie Ring