Hands-on Gear Review

Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Women's Review

Price:  $199 List | $169.15 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Balaclava hood with neck gaiter, good wind and water protection for a fleece.
Cons:  Tight fit in the shoulders, short cut in the waist, expensive.
Bottom line:  Technical jacket for alpine and ice climbing, or other active sports in colder climates.
Editors' Rating:   
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Type:  Midweight
Main Fabric:  Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology (88% polyester, 12% elastane)
Unique Features:  Balaclava hood with neck gaiter
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx

Our Verdict

Our testers liked the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, and it came very close in scoring to our award winners. It's relatively warm for its weight, and it's the only model we tested that's made with extra 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.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring

Last Updated:
Monday
November 21, 2016

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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. Current color options are: Silver lining, Tamarillo, Tanzanite, and Vultee Blue.

Performance Comparison


We really like this fleece. It's warm  trim fitting  and a great options for technical pursuits in the mountains.
We really like this fleece. It's warm, trim fitting, and a great options for technical pursuits in the mountains.

Warmth


The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is fairly warm for a midweight fleece jacket. The "Hardface Technology" does help block the wind from stripping away your warmth though, as does the balaclava hood.

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.

This jacket is comfortable to wear under a harness or backpack thanks to the flatlock seams.
This jacket is comfortable to wear under a harness or backpack thanks to the flatlock seams.

Breathability


In many cases, the addition of a membrane or treatment to block the wind and rain also makes a fleece less breathable. This was not the case with the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, and it is a fairly breathable layer, perhaps due to the thinness of the material overall as well as the loose bottom hem and mesh lined pockets. 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.

While this jacket wasn't the most breathable model we tested  the thin material and mesh-lined pockets help this fleece stay breathable.
While this jacket wasn't the most breathable model we tested, the thin material and mesh-lined pockets help this fleece stay breathable.

Layering Ability & Ease of Movement


The fit on this jacket is called "trim" by Arc'teryx, and they were 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 definitely 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 jacket has a trim and flattering fit  but it's cut a little tight across the shoulders and doesn't have much room for a baselayer underneath. This also constricted our movement a little.
This jacket has a trim and flattering fit, but it's cut a little tight across the shoulders and doesn't have much room for a baselayer underneath. This also constricted our movement a little.

Wind Protection & Water Resistance


The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody excels in wind and water protection, for a fleece that is. While we've given it high scores in these two categories, it doesn't actually provide the same protection as an impermeable rain jacket, but it definitely 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.

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 really like the style and look of the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, and it scored top marks 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. We also found the shoulders were cut a little tight, so just beware if you have broad climbing muscles.

We love the long arms! This fleece is pretty stylish too.
We love the long arms! This fleece is pretty stylish too.

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.

If you're heading out for a climb in the mountains  this is a great layer to have with you.
If you're heading out for a climb in the mountains, this is a great layer to have with you.

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 was definitely an award contender, and it's loaded with cool features, but when the testing and scoring was all said and done it fell a little short of the competition. It's a must-have for some activities, but for your average outdoor enthusiast it's probably too much tech and not enough comfy, cozy fleece.
Cam McKenzie Ring

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Most recent review: November 21, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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