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Versatile light-to-midweight, fairly breathable Polartec…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £95 ($126) and £115 ($154) on sale

Summary

Versatile light-to-midweight, fairly breathable Polartec Power Stretch gridded fleece with Hardface tech.

Featuring some excellent features and with better than average durability.

Pros

  • Excellent high fastening Scuba-hood with intgrated face/neck gaiter provides more than adequate protection
  • Relatively lightweight(375g - size L) gridded fleece promotes breathability and has very good performance-to-weight ratio
  • Will withstand short intermittent periods of light drizzle and moderate wind
  • Hardface outer improves durability over many other light and midweight fleeces
  • Athletic 'Trim' fit helps when layering it under hard or softshells in harsher conditions

Cons

  • An internal security pocket would have been welcome and the 3 pockets it does have could be larger when gloves are worn
  • Some form of hem adjustment would have been nice
  • Could do with elasticated cuffs or Velcro cuff adjusters
  • Two-way main zip would have provided a little more functionality and versatility
  • Micro-corded zipper pulls a little fiddly when wearing Winter gloves
  • A little bit overpriced at UK MRP: £170-(US$220-)
  • Hand pockets a little awkward to access when worn under fastened backpack hip-belt or climber's harness

Waited for the end of season sales before taking the plunge and buying my first one in Autumn (Fall) 2015.

I did find the Arc'teryx Fortrez's Athletic 'Trim' fit a little restrictive on my bulky (46in) torso, shoulders and upper arms at first, but Arc’teryx’s anatomical patterning, articulated elbows, gusseted underarms and use of four-way stretch PolarTec PowerStretch fabric in the design of the Fortrez doesn't hinder you much when you're on the move, almost feeling like a second skin.

After trying sizes L - XXL I eventually settled on the XL size as the best compromise between comfort and practicality. But the sleeves are still a bit on the long side for me.

Even though the Fortrez is largely form-fitting, I'd have really appreciated some form of hem and cuff adjustment, such as Velcro cuff adjusters and elasticated cinch cords for the hem etc. But, when worn as a mid-layer, this is probably less of an issue.

An unexpected benefit of the 'Trim' fitting Fortrez and the PolarTec PowerStretch's Hardface tech. outer face fabric is that it layers a little more easily underneath a hard or softshell. Although baselayers will likely catch and gather underneath on the Fortrez's brushed PolarTec PowerStretch fleece lining.

Another advantage of the Fortrez's use of the Hardface tech. outer face fabric is that it results in a light to midweight fleece that is fairly resistant to abrasion, snagging, and tearing.

The Fortrez Hoody's relatively long length also means it should provide some degree of protection below the waist and keep it from riding-up when reaching and stretching.

Arc'teryx's ScubaHood design is a great example of balancing form and function. The ScubaHood, once zipped-up just below the chin helps to minimise the entry of any wind or rain, fitting snugly over the head to comfortably accommodate a helmet on top, with little excess material to impair your peripheral vision or restrict the movement of the head.


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One feature of the ScubaHood which i've come to appreciate is its integrated face or neck gaiter. Made from a panel of Phasic AR polyester material attached to the inside of the hood. Whenever your face begins to feel cold, just stretch this panel over your head to cover your chin, mouth and/or nose.


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I love using this integrated balaclava or gaiter. Probably because I've always fancied myself as a bit of a Ninja! But a word to the wise. Do remember to take it off when popping down to the Bank or the shops when wearing it around town!

The Fortrez has 2 zipped hand pockets of reasonable size with an additional small zipped breast pocket. Would have been a bit more practical to have slightly larger pockets particularly for when Winter gloves are being worn and an additional internal security pocket(for GPS, mobile phone, wallet etc) would have been most welcome. But positioning the hand pockets so near to the waist means they're a bit awkward to access when worn under a backpack hip-belt or climber's harness.


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Arc’teryx has also used micro-corded zipper-pulls on the zipped pockets and main zip of the Fortrez, but these can be a little fiddly in cold weather when using Winter gloves.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the Fortrez's performance while out camping, climbing, hiking, mountain trekking, scrambling and on long walks along old canal tow-paths and river banks etc, especially during the depths of Winter. 

When worn as an outer-layer the 'Trim' fitting gridded fleece is claimed by Arc'teryx to aid in the efficient wicking away of moisture, is said to insulate you from moderate winds and its DWR coating is used to prevent much rain from being absorbed. My experiences of wearing it as my outer layer in light drizzle and in light to moderate winds can largely attest to these claims.

But, having said that, I must state that l'd hesitate to use the Fortrez as a stand alone outer in more extreme weather, particularly at higher altitudes.

When used as a mid-layer I believe this is when the Fortrez comes into its own. Preventing you from feeling too cold in severe, near to frigid conditions, or from becoming too hot and clammy when active in milder, but relatively cool and dry, conditions.

I now have four Fortrez hoodies in: Macaw (Blue), Nighthawk (Dark Blue), Odysseus (Dark Green-Grey), and Oxblood (Dark Red).

They've yet to let me down and are still looking almost as good as when I first bought them.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the review, Bob. Sounds like you like this jacket! What types of activities and weather do you use yours in?


10 months ago

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