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