The Arc'teryx Kyanite AR combines a simple aesthetic with warmth and comfort in this piece. The Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro made fleece is not only stretchy allowing for great movement but it also provides significant warmth. The two zippered hand pockets, the low profile hood, the brush-lined interior, and the jacket's durability make it a great choice for colder weather climbing, skiing, or for evenings when you need a bit of extra warmth. While this high-performance piece comes with an equally high price, the Kyanite is a worthwhile investment.Editor's Note: The Kyanite AR (an update from the previously tested Kyanite) was added to our fleet on November 14, 2022.
Arc'teryx Kyanite AR Hoody Review
Cons: Lacks thumb loops, poor breathability,
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Kyanite AR hits the summit of fleece comfort with the brushed line interior and Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro. The stretchy material of the Polartec and the softness of the fleece create an incredibly cozy feeling jacket that falls into the midweight level of warmth. The jacket has a fitted, low-profile hood that blocks wind while allowing movement. The articulated patterning as well as the no-lift gusseted underarms create an amazing level of mobility in the jacket. While simple with its two zippered pockets, the fleece has an incredible level of function, making it one of our favorites in the review.
This fleece worked incredibly well as a stand-alone piece. The brushed-line interior felt soft against the skin and provided a substantial amount of warmth. Our testers felt like they could wear this jacket during cold weather missions on its own and it acted almost like a lightweight belay jacket.
One of the problems with the piece is actually that it's too warm. Moving in the jacket in less-than-cold temperatures caused our testers to overheat. While climbing during chilly fall mornings in finger-numbing temps in Rifle, Colorado our testers felt ok but during slightly warmer conditions, they overheated. Think good for under a jacket on the ski lift but poor for spring ski tours.
Wow! That's the best description for the level of comfort that this jacket has. The brushed fleece liner feels amazing against the skin. The cut of the piece fits very well making the jacket a pleasure to wear. While this level of quality is typical in Arcteryx jackets, our testers were still immensely pleased. One problem with the high level of comfort was that a tester let his friend borrow it while climbing. His friend promptly cozied up in the jacket and fell asleep, leaving the climber without a belayer.
The Polartec Power Stretch Pro works well to stretch and move with the body, making climbing that much easier. The athletic fit presses perfectly against the body. The articulated patterning as well as the no-lift gusseted underarms create an unparalleled level of ease of movement in the piece.
Arcteryx's craftsmanship extends to the features of the jacket. Soft fabric lines the front zipper's top to prevent chaffing against the skin. The low profile hood wraps around the head well and doesn't droop onto the eyes. The zippers on the two handwarmer pockets move sit well even while under a harness.
The Kyanite did well in terms of its ability to handle weather, weigh less, and pack into a bag. The Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro is made of 53% polyester, 38% nylon, and 9% elastane. While there's a bit of wind resistance in the material and the tight weave of the garment helps battle the wind, our testers found themselves getting a bit chilly when biking, or skiing quickly downhill. Some fleeces have a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment as well, however, this jacket does not. If there's significant wind or rain, then it's best to have a rain jacket layer around too.
Built for cold, dry climates, this piece does great when there's only a little weather in the forecast. If the precipitation comes in heavy, it'll wet out quickly and it's best to bring a heavier jacket or a shell to protect against the elements.
This jacket came in at a midweight level, weighing 15 ounces for a medium. This puts it on the heavier side of the jackets in our review. The level of warmth it provides makes up for that fact though. If you're looking for a super packable, ultra-light piece for backcountry missions, then this fleece may be on the heavier side but if you want casual comfort and a great weight to warmth trade than this piece works well.
Arcteyx shaved weight off this fleece by using a simple design with few frills. The jacket has low profile zippers, only two hand warmer pockets, a simple hood and now adjustment at the hem. While some of our testers liked having these features, the exclusion of them creates a streamlined, light jacket.
The Kyanite AR did well in terms of breathable especially for being a midweight fleece. While other, thinner fleeces performed better, air flowed easily through the garment during cold early morning hikes in Boulder Colorado's Flatirons and for mellow approaches to the crag.
While breathable, this jacket feels a bit heavy for more athletic pursuits in warmer conditions. Due to the jacket's ability to trap heat, other, lighter jackets would perform better doing steep approaches up the sandstone cones in Indian creek or while making skinning up backcountry mountains in the Wasatch. It is breathable enough for colder weather pursuits like skiing downhill or ice climbing.
Arc'teryx Kyanite AR does a solid job with layering, fitting under hard shell jackets or larger down jackets quite well. The Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro fits well against the skin and glides under a second layer. The fitted hood also does a great job moving under other hoods.
One thing that this jacket is missing is thumb loops to help prevent the sleeves from riding up and getting bunched under other layers. While the jacket's fit does well to prevent this, our testers liked having the option to keep the sleeves tucked into their gloves.
Should You Buy the Kyanite AR?
This jacket's understated quality makes it an incredible piece. Durable, with an excellent fit, and an unbelievable amount of comfort, the Kyanite AR works extremely well for cold weather activites. While not as breathable as a thin and lighter fleece, if you're looking for a combination of warmth and style for use in the mountains and around town, the Kyanite excels.
What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?
The Arc'teryx Kyanite AR defines comfort in a fleece with its fit and quality craftmanship. Ideal for hiking, skiing, climbing, or any movement-heavy activity, it has a great weight-to-warmth ratio. If you are after a technical lightweight fleece, the Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody costs a little less and is an exceptional performer, while the Mountain Hardwear Stratus Full Zip will save you even more dollars.
— James Lucas and Buck Yedor
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