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Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Women's Review

Technical jacket for alpine and ice climbing, or other active sports in colder climates.
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Price:  $199 List | $99.50 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Balaclava hood with neck gaiter, good wind and water protection for a fleece
Cons:  Not very breathable, expensive
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 12, 2018
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 15% 7
  • Layering Ability - 15% 9
  • Ease of Movement - 10% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 10% 9
  • Style - 5% 9

The Skinny

Our testers like the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, and it scored similarly to some of our award winners. It's relatively warm for its weight, and it's the only model we tested made with water repellency and wind protection in mind. This fleece is loaded with unique features and is a high-performing piece, but overall it's just a little too specialized. If you ice or alpine climb, you'll want one of these, but otherwise the extra features are probably not worth the extra price you'll pay for them. If you need a layer for aerobic activities in cold weather, check out the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is made with Polartec Power Stretch fleece (88% polyester, 12% elastane) with "Hardface Technology." This treatment creates a smooth outer surface that is still flexible but causes water to bead up and is supposed to help block the wind. It has a balaclava style hood with optional neck and face gaiter, two hand warmer pockets and an arm pocket, and flat seams.

Performance Comparison


This technical fleece is a great option for alpine pursuits where blustery conditions and occasional rain is bound to get you.
This technical fleece is a great option for alpine pursuits where blustery conditions and occasional rain is bound to get you.

Warmth


The Fortrez Hoody is fairly warm for a light fleece jacket. The "Hardface Technology" helps block the wind from stripping away your warmth, as does the balaclava hood. However, it's not the right layer for sedentary pursuits in cold weather, and we wished we had another jacket to throw on top of it as a belay jacket on cold days.

Nothing like a hood and neck gaiter to help you feel warm! The gaiter can fit at the back of the hood if not needed  and the thin material fits well under a helmet.
Nothing like a hood and neck gaiter to help you feel warm! The gaiter can fit at the back of the hood if not needed, and the thin material fits well under a helmet.

Comfort


The inside of the jacket is a soft brushed fleece which is comfortable against the skin, though it does not have quite the same comfort as the hi-loft models like The North Face Osito 2 or the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. The flat seams do lie nicely under a harness or backpack straps though.

Trying to stay warm at the belay in the Fortrez. It's warm enough for active pursuits  but when standing around in 50-degree temps we were wishing we had our puffy jacket on instead.
Trying to stay warm at the belay in the Fortrez. It's warm enough for active pursuits, but when standing around in 50-degree temps we were wishing we had our puffy jacket on instead.

Breathability


In many cases, the addition of a membrane or treatment to block the wind and rain also makes a fleece less breathable. This is not the entirely the case with the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, and it is a fairly breathable layer, perhaps due to the thinness of the material overall. However, we still got fairly sweaty hiking with this jacket on, and if you need something for aerobic sports in cold conditions, you'll be better off with the Patagonia R1 Hoody or the Outdoor Reseach Deviator Hoody.

Layering Ability & Ease of Movement


The fit on this jacket is called "trim" by Arc'teryx, and they are not joking. It's a tight fit, particularly across the shoulders, which leaves little room for a base layer underneath. If you have broad shoulders or plan on wearing a heavy base layer or two under this jacket, you'll want to size up on this one. The upside to layering for this piece is the smooth coating on the surface - there is no catching of the material when you wear it under a shell or other fleece jacket. The stretchy fabric also moves fairly well, though again we felt some constriction in the shoulders.

This trim fit is great for certain applications  like pairing it with a helmet or wearing it under an outer layer  but you can't fit much under it.
This trim fit is great for certain applications, like pairing it with a helmet or wearing it under an outer layer, but you can't fit much under it.

Weather Resistance


The Fortrez Hoody excels in wind and water protection, for a fleece that is. While we've given it a high score in this category, it doesn't provide the same protection as an impermeable rain jacket, but it stops the elements more than some of the lighter, porous models that we tested. For rain, we saw water bead up and roll right off similar to a shell treated with a DWR coating, but when sprayed with a water bottle repetitively the material eventually soaks through. While the "Hardface" coating does provide more wind protection than the Patagonia R2 Jacket, the material itself is not that thick, and we could still feel strong winds ripping through on a very windy day.

Water beads up and rolls off this jacket similar to a rain jacket  though it still saturates through over time.
Water beads up and rolls off this jacket similar to a rain jacket, though it still saturates through over time.

Style & Fit


We like the style and look of the Fortrez Hoody, and it scored high in this category. It's sleek look and flattering fit is attractive, and this jacket turned a lot of heads out at the crag. The arms are long, which we liked, but the torso felt just a little short, which is only an issue if you plan on wearing it under a harness, as it might ride up a little. It's still a little techy looking, so if you want something that looks a little less "fleece-like," check out the other option from Arc'teryx that we tested, the Covert Cardigan.

Best Applications


This technical masterpiece is made for the mountains. If you ice or alpine climb, you'll be happy with this jacket in your clothing arsenal. It'll shed a light rain, and the gaiter will protect your face when the temps are freezing.

Climbing near the Continental Divide at 10 000 feet. The Fortrez excels in Alpine environments where weather can turn on a dime and the wind never ceases.
Climbing near the Continental Divide at 10,000 feet. The Fortrez excels in Alpine environments where weather can turn on a dime and the wind never ceases.

Value


This jacket costs $199, which is expensive, to say the least. You could argue that this fleece would replace a fleece layer and a windbreaker, or that it will last a long time thanks to the flat outer face which is resistant to pilling, but it's still a lot of money to spend on a fleece. If you're looking for a warm and cozy layer that won't break the bank, check out our Best Buy winner, the $95 Marmot Flashpoint.

Conclusion


This jacket is an award contender, and it's loaded with cool features. It's a must-have for some activities, if you can afford it, but for your average outdoor enthusiast, it's probably a little overkill.


Cam McKenzie Ring