The Arcteryx Fortrez Hoody (available for men and women) is a Polartec Power Stretch Hardface fleece jacket that has an integrated balaclava to protect your head and face from the cold. It excels as a mid or outer layer for colder weather activities, with a trim fit and a longer length that works well under a backpack. Gusseted underarms provide freedom of movement while the hood can be worn inside a helmet, making it ideal for all types of winter sports from climbing and ski mountaineering to winter hiking.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: (Men’s – 13.2 oz) (Women’s – 12.2 oz)
- Center Back Length: (Men’s 29.75″) (Women’s 26.8″)
- Fabric: Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology
- Pockets: 3 (Men’s has a chest pocket) (Women’s has a sleeve pocket)
- Fit: Trim, for ease of layering with a shell
The purpose of a mid-layer is to help wick moisture away from your baselayer and to provide extra warmth. Polartec Power Stretch Fleece is perfect for this because it’s an excellent insulator and highly breathable. The fleece used to make the Fortrez Hoody has been further enhanced with a densely woven Hardface so that it sheds snow and light rain, unlike “fuzzier” fleeces that attract snow and are much harder to keep dry. The Fortrez is even somewhat wind-resistant, similar to a lighter weight softshell jacket.
A hoody jacket is also more flexible than a simple quarter-zip fleece pullover sweater because you can vent your entire torso by unzipping the front zipper if you start to overheat. Plus the hood gives you many options to insulate your neck or head when you feel chilled, without having to stop and dig around in your backpack for a hat.
The Fortrez takes this one step farther by including combination balaclava/neck gaiter in the hood that you can pull down to cover your neck and face to protect them against the wind or cold. I really like this feature. It can be positioned up over your nose or below your chin and anywhere in between. It is equivalent to a thin fleece neck gaiter, but the great thing is that it is right there attached to the hood so you don’t have to dig into your pack or a pocket to access it. This is a huge selling point for this fleece.
The Fortrez is by far the most comfortable fleece I’ve ever owned. The long cut of the jacket works well with a backpack hip belt and doesn’t ride up. The stretchy fabric and gusseted arms allow for freedom of movement. The hard face layer has a nice feel that is not stiff. Snow easily brushes off it and light rain beads on it, while the mesh-lined pockets are convenient for storing gloves and snacks.
While the Fortrez has a trim fit, I sized up to a medium so I could layer under it. It is a good fit for me except for the hood which is a little bit loose, although it covers my chin when zipped. The pockets are low profile and don’t interfere with my pack belt and I find that it resists light wind well enough that I don’t need to cover up with a shell.
The Arcteryx Fortrez Hoody has become my go-to fleece for winter adventures. I used to feel that there couldn’t be anything special about a fleece pullover or hoody, but this garment has changed my mind. I find the integrated balaclava panel to be convenient for temperature regulation as well as face protection, eliminating the need to stop to look for an extra face mask when I want to layer up. The Fortrez Hoody also works great with a backpack, making it a great mid-layer for winter hiking and backpacking.
Disclosure: The author purchased this product.