Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Not very warm, expensive
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 balaclava hood is perfect for especially windy conditions where your jacket may not provide you with the protection that you need.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
— Amber King
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