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Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Women's Review

A technical jacket for alpine and ice climbing, or other active sports in colder climates
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Price:  $199 List | $148.73 at REI
Pros:  Balaclava hood with neck gaiter, good wind and water protection for a fleece, soft and comfortable
Cons:  Not very warm, expensive
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Warmth - 20% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 7
  • Layering Ability - 20% 8
  • Ease of Movement - 15% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 5% 10

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is a top performer with excellent performance in weather that's wet and soggy. Its construction is thin and mobile, hugging your hips in its slim profile. We absolutely love its almost weatherproof design. The Hardface Technology, integrated with Polartec insulation, doesn't allow wind to penetrate through. Water beads on the surface and runs off, making it an excellent choice for alpine climbing, backpacking, and other adventurous sports. While this isn't the warmest fleece on the market, its technical build does the best while on the move. It'll keep you protected and dry, whatever the wet, soggy, or bluebird day you come across.

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, all constructed with flat seams.

Performance Comparison


Steph poses in the Arc'teryx Kyanite before shredding down the mountain in Grand Targhee. The face fabric offers impeccable wind and water resistance.
Steph poses in the Arc'teryx Kyanite before shredding down the mountain in Grand Targhee. The face fabric offers impeccable wind and water resistance.

Warmth


The Fortrez Hoody is relatively warm for a light fleece jacket. The "Hardface Technology" helps block the wind from stripping away your warmth, as does the balaclava hood. It uses 88% polyester and 12% elastane in its construction, making it a little less insulative than others.

The hood fits over and under helmets to enhance warmth in cold weather.
The hood fits over and under helmets to enhance warmth in cold weather.

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. We do, however, appreciate the built-in neck gaiter that kept us toasty while resort skiing. When layered with an appropriate base layer and jacket, it kept us warm when the temperatures dipped past 0F. On its own, though, don't expect it to be useful for any temperature below 40F.

The Artc'teryx Kyanite comes with a full balaclava hood and concealed gaiter to keep you warm on icy cold chair lifts. We absolutely loved this feature that kept the hair out of our faces!
The Artc'teryx Kyanite comes with a full balaclava hood and concealed gaiter to keep you warm on icy cold chair lifts. We absolutely loved this feature that kept the hair out of our faces!

Comfort and Fit


The inside of the jacket is a soft brushed fleece that is comfortable against the skin, though it does not have quite the same comfort as the hi-loft models. The flat seams do lie nicely under a harness or backpack straps, though.

A look at the hand pockets that easily fits a smartphone.
A look at the hand pockets that easily fits a smartphone.

We appreciate the handwarmer pockets that are compatible with both a harness and a backpack hip strap. The arm pocket is large enough to put a key or small snack into, adding to the overall comfort of this jacket.

The pocket on the arm is small but will stash a small key or snack.
The pocket on the arm is small but will stash a small key or snack.

The balaclava hood is perfect for especially windy conditions where your jacket may not provide you with the protection that you need.

The length of the arms is right on for medium-sized ladies but might come up short for those with long arms.
The length of the arms is right on for medium-sized ladies but might come up short for those with long arms.

The fit on this jacket is called "trim" by Arc'teryx, and they are not joking. It has 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.

Lexy enjoy the slim and trim fit of the Arc'teryx Fortrez hoody.
Lexy enjoy the slim and trim fit of the Arc'teryx Fortrez hoody.

Breathability


In many cases, the addition of a membrane or treatment to block the wind and rain also makes a fleece less breathable. However, the Fortez Hoody manages to stay breathable even with this protective addition.

Steph dons the Arc'teryx Kyanite before heading up the mountain on some hike-to terrain in Grand Targhee resort. On this particular day  she ended up shedding her coat but keeping the fleece on. It protected well from the high winds.
Steph dons the Arc'teryx Kyanite before heading up the mountain on some hike-to terrain in Grand Targhee resort. On this particular day, she ended up shedding her coat but keeping the fleece on. It protected well from the high winds.

The material itself is quite thin so that heat can vent passively from the fabric. It doesn't feature any kind of fancy PowerGrid design, so it's not as breathable as our Award winners that sit at the top of the podium. However, for its continuous face fabric design, we are impressed with its ability to vent. That said, it's not our top choice for super sweaty endeavors that'll leave you sweat covered and hot. It does, however, work nicely as a great running jacket in very cold weather.

The material is continuous and doesn't offer the best breathability.
The material is continuous and doesn't offer the best breathability.

Layering Ability


The slim fit of this jacket makes it a little harder to layer bulkier items underneath — especially through the arms. However, you can easily slide it under a jacket or shell; this is a result of its smooth coating on the surface. The stretchy fabric also moves reasonably well, though again, we felt some constriction in the shoulders. The material on the inside of the jacket is microfleece that doesn't catch and is also relatively smooth. If you are going to wear bulkier layers, be sure to size up.

This jacket layers really well under other layers.
This jacket layers really well under other layers.

Ease of Movement


The movement is nice in this jacket. The fabrics are thin, stretchy, and move well with the body. When wearing it, expect the material to stay in place. It's one of our favorites for climbing in addition to skiing and backpacking.

The fabric and fit offer an excellent fit that doesn't ride up when you put your arms up in a 'hurray' display.
The fabric and fit offer an excellent fit that doesn't ride up when you put your arms up in a 'hurray' display.

Weather Resistance


The Fortrez Hoody excels in wind and water protection, for a fleece that is. 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 even the thickest jackets in this review. The material itself is not that thick, and we could still feel strong winds ripping through it on a very windy day.

The continuous face fabric does an excellent job warding offer water but absorbs at the zipper.
The continuous face fabric does an excellent job warding offer water but absorbs at the zipper.

Value


This jacket is expensive. 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 jacket. For those who are looking for a little less, there's plenty of more affordable options out there. However, if you want stretchy fabrics that are comfortable, thin, and almost weatherproof, you might find the value in this jacket. Additionally, it's made by Arc'teryx, who is known for its quality designs and excellent customer service. If you live in wet, coastal climates, or simply want the protection of a wind shell in your fleece jacket, this is one you'll see the value in.

Conclusion


This jacket is loaded with great features and a big favorite amongst our testers for its weather resistance. 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. If you're an ice climber or looking for a fleece that can provide some rain resistance and protection from the wind, the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody truly stands out. While the price is high, there's loads of value in its level of protection and durability.

Claire enjoys the fit and comforts of this luxurious and weather-resistant fleece hoody.
Claire enjoys the fit and comforts of this luxurious and weather-resistant fleece hoody.

Amber King