I hardly ever go anywhere without a jacket, and a good fleece is worth its weight in gold. I most often wear my fleeces for casual around town use, hiking, and around camp. Here’s my review of Arc’teryx’s fleece mid-layer, the Kyanite hoody. This is the jacket that was formerly known as the Kyanite AR.
Sizing and Fit
I’m wearing this jacket in size XS. I am between sizes, typically wearing either XXS or XS. This jacket strikes a good balance between tailored and relaxed. So, if you’re between sizes, you may be more comfortable in a size up. The upper arms in particular are a bit roomy, and I do wish they were cut a bit smaller for less bulk. I am 5’3″, and the jacket hits around mid-hip. I also have a bit of extra length through the sleeves, as is the norm for my height.
On the other hand, if you’re using this as a mid-layer and want a tighter fit, going with a smaller size may work well for you. The fleece material is very stretchy and moves with you, so sizing is pretty forgiving. I typically wear this jacket as my outermost layer, so the looser fit works well for me to comfortably layer over thicker tops.
Fabric and Warmth Factor
What impresses me most about this jacket is the warmth. As a perpetually cold person, I don’t really expect much warmth from a fleece. But with this, I get a surprising amount of warmth out of what looks like a light jacket.
The Polartec fleece fabric feels spongy to the touch. You can squeeze it between your fingers and feel it compress a little bit. This spongy texture is probably how it manages to be both warm and lightweight. The fabric has a smooth but soft face on the outside with a fleecy, fuzzy interior. The inside of the sleeves in particular is quite cozy and feels good to wear.
The hood is a full scuba-style hood that fits quite snug around the head when zipped all the way up. If you find yourself in unexpected bad weather, the warm, snug hood could come in handy.
I have two of these jackets; the one pictured here is the newer of the two. My older Kyanite has seen exceptionally heavy wear for about two years. It’s my go-to jacket both casually around town as well as harsher uses like hiking and camping. As I’ve accumulated wear, it has begun to show some mild pilling in hot spots, though not overall. The pilling first showed up around the wrists and inner arms, then a little bit around the low back from my backpack. Most of the jacket has not pilled.
On the positive side, I’m happy to report that the inner fleece has stayed soft and comfortable after dozens of washings. I’ve also stained this jacket numerous times and have been able to remove every single one. The fabric doesn’t seem to hold too tightly to stains.
So, while this fabric is not invincible, the durability is good overall, especially considering how harshly I’ve treated it. The one I’m wearing in this post has not seen as much wear, and you can see that it still looks quite fresh.
Design Features and Flaws
The inside of the pockets are lined with mesh, not fleece, which is visible both in the pockets themselves and on the inner lapel. Depending on the color and your personal preference, the contrasting mesh may be a plus or a minus. While an older version of the Kyanite had an inner zip pocket, the current version does not, it has the two external pockets only.
One design critique is that the zipper does not lock. The zipper sometimes gradually slides open throughout the day, especially with my hands in my pockets. Another minor gripe is that I would like thumbholes on the sleeves, but that is mostly personal preference.
At $180, this is not the most budget-friendly fleece, as is the norm with Arc’teryx gear. I have two of them, but I was able to find both for less than retail, which was well worth it. Although the pilling is a minor nuisance, overall this is an excellent jacket that has served me very well, and I think you’ll like it too.
You can find the Kyanite directly from the Arc’teryx website, or from some major outdoor retailers like REI. Right now, the color options are limited, but more should be added as fall and winter progress.