Fortress Clothing Review


Fortress, by definition is a fortified and impenetrable structure.  Think castles and medieval battles.  Fortresses, usually built with steel and rock, were designed to keep the bad guys out and protect your family, livestock and land.  Fast forward to the 21st century, and you’ll find a clothing company in Utah, using technology and special patented foam blend to fortify the human body against the harsh and unforgiving bitter cold of winter.

Fortress Clothing is the next big thing in outdoor gear and it has the fan following and dedicated customer base to prove it.  The company, with its patented AERIS insulation, is a knight in shining armor for those who play hard and work hard outside in sub-zero temperatures.

The Fortress line of clothing is designed to keep you warm in the bitter cold, even after you’re soaked the bone, without your having to get out of your wet clothes. In fact, when the company first started so many didn’t believe the company’s claims, the CEO and other employees jumped into a frozen lake and filmed it.  The video caught the attention of national networks and featured on CNBC’s Adventure Capitalist.

Turns out Fortress Clothing does exactly what it is designed to do.  Imagine that? The videos are fun and slightly unnerving to watch.  Can you ever imagine willingly jumping into a frozen lake through a small ice hole in the middle of winter? Um. No thanks.  But, if you’re wearing Fortress outdoor gear you have nothing to worry about.  The company famously exclaims its website, “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

So, what makes Fortress Clothing so special? It’s all about “moisture management” as the company so famously explains on its blog and company videos.  Fortress Clothing developed and patented a special kind of insulating material called AERIS insulation.  The company manufactures its clothing line and other outdoor gear from a specially engineered polymer foam that is superior at wicking away moisture and retain your body’s precious heat. According to the company, a special “windbreak” fabric is lined on the outside of the foam and a polyester mesh on the inside to make Fortress Clothing cozy and comfortable all at the same time.

This combination of polymer foam, windbreak fabric, and polyester mesh keep you nice and warm in the coolest of climates.  Most of the articles of clothing are designed to be worn between the -30 and 70F. Isn’t that incredible? How one piece of clothing can keep you comfortable in such a broad range of temperature is incredible.  You can literally wear the same combination of clothes when you’re working outside in -15 degrees as a nice spring day when the sun is shining and it’s hovering around 30 degrees.  See also our article entitled “Fortress Mitten And Glove Review“.

This company was founded on the basic principle of solving problems and providing the best solution for consumers. In several interviews, the CEO of Fortress Clothing says he developed the clothing line and the company after his son, who was working in sub-zero temperatures in the oil fields, was always cold, despite wearing several layers of clothing.  Fortress Clothing replaces the need for all those layers. With Fortress gear you wear a base or mid layer and a windbreaker coat, to stop the wind from stealing your body heat.  The specially designed patented polymer foam keeps you warm, head to toe, in the coldest and harshest of conditions.

Compared to other outdoor gear on the market, Fortress is certainly in the higher end of the price spectrum.  But, you get what you pay for.  I recently purchased the Bug Out Bag for my entire family, my kids, and their spouses.  The Bug Out Bag, which I will get into a little later, has everything you need to keep stay warm.  I will likely never have to buy another pair of mittens, pants or jacket for the rest of my life.  The clothing is high quality, well made and it WORKS!

Base Pro Line

The BasePro Line

Are you going ice fishing anytime soon? Have a hankering to drop a line in four inches of untouched ice in the middle of nowhere? Me too! I’ll bring lunch. So, if you are heading out into unpredictable weather, you need to start with your first layer.  Fortress Clothing refers to its first layer of gear as BasePro.

In some cases, depending on what you purchase, you will not need multiple layers as typically recommended by most outdoor survival experts. In other cases you will not. The best thing is when you get the close to test them out at different temperatures so that you know how warm they keep you in the different situations.

Base Pro Crew Neck

BasePro Crew Neck

The BasePro Crew Neck is a versatile long sleeve base layer designed to keep wick away moisture and keep you warm all at the same time.  According to the company website, the BasePro Crew Neck is insulated in specific areas, most prone to heat loss. How about that? This layer basically replaces the need for a middle layer, depending on the type of activity you’re doing outside.  Some people find the BasePro Crew Neck is perfect for hunting and camping during cold weather.  With the BasePro Crew Neck you won’t need long underwear.  The shirt is deigned to act a base layer as well, wicking away all that sweat while you play or work outside in frigid temperatures.

If you add a base layer underneath the BasePro Crew Neck and that layer is not moisture wicking, then it could create a problem.  According to Fortress Clothing, the BasePro is designed to wear directly next to your skin.  The price tag is $129.  While on the pricier side as far as base layers go, this is the only outdoor shirt you’ll need for the rest of your life.  These clothing items are durable and built to withstand the most rigorous of outdoor activities.  Plus, the stitching detail is pretty cool, in a Batman sort of way.

BasePro PantBasePro Pant

The BasePro Pant pairs perfectly with the BasePro Crew Neck.  Together, the two base layer garments are sure to keep you warm in a variety of conditions.  If you think you looked like Batman before with just the crew neck, you really pull off the look with the pants! Like the crew neck shirt, the BasePro Pant is lightweight, durable and moves with your body.  It’s made out of the company’s patented AERIS 250 insulation foam material.  And just like the crew neck, the pant is lined with a soft and cozy polyester.

According to Fortress Clothing, the BasePro Pant is most effective at keeping you nice and toasty when worn right next to your skin.  So, skip the old fashion long johns, because all you need is the BasePro Pant.  Like the crew neck, the pant rings in at $129.  You’re paying for quality here folks.  Plus, you’ll have that superhero thing going on, which is pretty cool.

Base Pro Zip Top

BasePro ¼ Zip Top

If the BasePro Crew Neck is too restricting around your neck, or you need easy access to cool off, the BasePro ¼ Zip Top is for you.  There’s something about the AERIS 250 patented material, that makes the BasePro line so lightweight, as though you’re not even wearing a base layer.  It’s that lightweight.  The ¼ zip top is made out of the same high-quality material as the other garments in this line.  According to Fortress Clothing, the ¼ zip top is insulated in key areas throughout the garment.  I imagine the ¼ zip top would come in handy while skiing and other activities where you are moving a lot and then take a break inside from the weather from time to time.

You know how in skiing you’re always roasting by the end of the run? Especially if it’s the first run of the day.  I’m always ready to give my quads a break in the lodge by about the third or fourth run.  A ¼ zip top would allow you to unzip the garment a few inches, to cool off and get a little more comfortable while drinking hot cocoa inside a ski lodge.  Speaking of skiing, who wants to make fresh tracks? As with the entire BasePro line, you’ll want to add a shell over the garment for protection against wind and the harsh and often unpredictable winter weather you’re sure to face while on your next adventure.

Jackets

Now, that we’ve taken a look at the BasePro line, the base layer to keep you warm, let’s explore what Fortress Clothing has created to protect you from wind, snow, rain and ice-covered lakes! Fortress Clothing offers eight different jackets, hoodies and vests to keep you dry in all different temperatures and conditions.  They’ve also created a line of clothing especially for kids.  We’ll take a look at the kid’s clothes later on. Let’s take a closer look your top layer options:

WindbreakerWindbreaker

This is all around the most basic and functional lightweight windbreaker on the market.  It’s designed to be worn over the BasePro line.  According to Fortress Clothing, this jacket, which is sold in a cool black matte color, is great for outdoor activities.  I imagine this would be the perfect jacket to wear to a baseball game in early spring when weather can change suddenly. Do you jog or run? Me too! Then this coat would be perfect to keep you dry from light rain and snow, when you have the hankering to go on a quick jog at the end of January. So, what makes this jacket so special? It’s lightweight.

According to Fortress Clothing, it has a pretty high water-resistant level of 82 gm.  It’s made of polyester and it’s treated with a Durable Water Repellent finish.  You know how when water beads up on a coat after the rain drop touches the material? You can thank DWR for that! Without this special repellent on a coat, water would soak right through the material and weigh you down, literally.  You’d be a sopping mess and cold to boot.  So, anytime you’re in the market for a outer shell, always make sure the garment is treated with DWR.  It might just save your life!

Soft Shell JacketSoft Shell

This jacket is a fan favorite.  It’s lined with microfiber fleece, making it so cozy you’ll want to sleep in it. Okay, maybe not sleep in it, unless of course you’re camping along the Iditarod Trail in Alaska, then I think this would be the perfect coat for you!  The jacket Is a soft shell, so it moves with your body and you’re able to work outside and play outside without any restrictions.  There’s nothing worse than a jacket you can’t fully move in. Have you ever changed a tire in the middle of a Wyoming blizzard? Nope.  I haven’t either.  But, if were ever to find myself in that situation, where I’m moving around, up and down on the frozen ground, trying to get those lug nuts loose, this would be the coat I would want to be wearing.

The soft shell also comes with a pretty neat hood, designed to wrap your head and cover your neck in the front! According to Fortress Clothing, the jacket is polyester coated with DWR! The zippers are also great at keeping moisture away, so if you’ve got your phone in your pocket, and for some reason you’re standing in the middle of a monsoon, your phone and you will survive just fine.  For the quality and durability, you’re getting with this jacket, you can’t beat the price at $99.  Seriously, there are so many high end soft shells on the market that easily cost twice or three times the Fortress soft shell.

Hard Shell JacketHard Shell ¼ Zip

The hard shell is like the soft shell, except it’s made out of slightly different material and you don’t have the fleece lining.  This coat is made with a nylon material and is coated with a waterproof material. The hard shell comes in a soft subtle gray, which is a nice change from the basic black tones of the clothing line.  I can see myself wearing this coat while riding a bike along the Oregon coast in April. It seems the weather on the coast is always changing and you need a coat that is both water resistant and protects you from the wind.

The hood appears to be well designed with toggles and cords to make adjustments to the fit as needed.  That wind off the coast can be fierce and brutal, a good sturdy hood that won’t fly off while beachcombing is crucial to staying warm and having a good time.  Like the soft shell, the hard shell ¼ zip ring sin at $99.  You can wear it alone or over the BasePro layer- it all depends on what you’re doing.  If you’re going to be outside in the cold for hours or even days, you’re going to need the BasePro layer.

Fortress Clothing Hoodie 2.0Hybrid Hoodie

Okay. This is my all-time favorite piece of clothing I own. From the end of October to about mid- April, I basically live in my Hybrid Hoodie. Okay, I confess.  I wear my hoodie year-round!  Fortress Clothing hit the jackpot when they merged the cool and casual hoodie with its patented technology.  I can do just about anything in my Hybrid Hoodie and always be perfectly warm- not too hot and not to cold.  It’s the kind of jacket you grab to go to the grocery store and go for brisk winter walk around your neighborhood.  Seriously, this is the last hoodie you’ll ever need.

So what makes this hoodie so amazing? Well, I’m so glad you asked.  The hoodie is made with the AERIS 250 technology, providing optimal insulation to keep you dry at all times.  It’s super soft and you’ll never want to take it off.  The exterior is wind resistant and treated with DWR. So, I can work and play outside in all sorts of different weather conditions and still be warm and comfortable.

The Hybrid Hoodie 2.0 is designed to allow more movement and more protection for your chin, wrists and neck area. This hoodie rings in at $229.  It’s the last hoodie you’ll ever have to buy.  Some people who purchased this coat say they’ve been around the world, including Antarctica and they always pack their Hybrid Hoodie!

Classic VestFortress Classic Vest and Jacket

When you mean business in the great outdoors, the Fortress Classic Vest and Jacket are the right choice for you. This coat is designed to keep you toasty warm in the most extreme conditions.  This line of clothing uses a thicker foam than the other garments available at Fortress Clothing. Both the vest and the jacket wick away moisture and keep the wind and rain out! How cool is that? According to Fortress Clothing, the vest can be worn two ways: over a thick base layer to keep your core warm or as a mid-layer, over a thin base layer and then a shell or jacket.

The Fortress Classic Jacket is exactly like the vest, except with sleeves! It’s designed to be worn as a middle layer- to keep you warm! You’ll want to pair this jacket with a shell or jacket for optimal protection from the unforgiving sub-zero temperatures of North Dakota winters.  According to Fortress Clothing, the classic line will keep you warm to -35 degrees.  That’s amazing.  I’ve never been in weather that cold, but If I ever experience that chill, I’ll certainly reach for my Fortress Classic Jacket or Vest.

One quick note: Fortress Clothing says you should NOT wear 100% natural fiber clothing (like cotton) underneath the vest or jacket because natural fibers absorb water and can actually steal heat from your core.  When you get wet, you get cold and eventually you start to suffer from hypothermia.  So, leave the cotton at home.  Cotton kills and you don’t want to die from a natural fiber. Stick to the BasePro layer and you’ll be just fine.

Arctic Extreme JacketArctic Extreme Jacket

Are you working in the oil fields in North Dakota? Planning an expedition to Mt. Mckinley? How about driving the Alcan in the middle of blizzard? If so, this is the one coat you’ll need to survive the coldest and most brutal weather in the world.  The jacket is currently on pre-order for a price of $349.99.  According to Fortress Clothing this extreme jacket will protect you from the elements from -60 to 30-degree F. That’s incredible.

I had to read that twice to make sure it was accurate.  This jacket is made with AERIS 1000 technology. It’s lightweight, wind resistant and is treated with our favorite DWR coating.  In the description of the coat, the company says its tested this coat around the world from Russia to Alaska- and it works.  This appears to be the perfect jacket for someone who is working outside for long period of time in artic-type weather.

Pants

Arctic Extreme PantArtic Extreme Pant

To keep you warm from head to toe, pair the Artic Extreme Jacket with the Artic Extreme Pant.  Just like the jacket, the pants wick away moisture and keeps the wind from stealing your body heat.  The pants are also treated with the DWR coating to keep snow and sleet from penetrating your body.

Even if you do get wet in these pants, you will be warm! Remember, staying warm is the key to staying alive.  The Artic Extreme Pant is also pre-order right now for $349.99.

Fortress Classic PantFortress Classic Pant

This pair of pants pairs perfectly with the Fortress Classic Jacket or Vest.  This line of clothing works well for temperatures ranging from -35 to 50 degrees F.  So, potentially you could wear the same pants in Alaska as you could a rainy, brisk fall day in Seattle.

These pants will keep you warm and comfortable year-round.  Depending on what you’re doing outside, you can wear these pants as a mid-layer or outer layer.

Fortress Bug Out BagBug Out Bag

If you’re looking for a complete set of gear to keep you warm from head to toe, the Bug Out Bag is for you.  I recently purchased nine of these sets for everyone in my family.  The B.O.B includes the classic jacket, classic pant, classic regular gloves, balaclava and hot soxs.  All of this gear also comes in a cool stuff sack for safe storage.  This is basically everything you need for a variety of weather scenarios.

It’s also handy to have in case the power goes out for an extended period of time during the winter months.  About 20 years ago, an ice storm in Spokane, WA paralyzed the entire region and people went without power for weeks, in the middle of winter. Can you imagine having no heat when it’s 15 degrees outside? This is where a Bug Out Bag would really come in handy.  I highly recommend outfitting your entire family with head to toe Fortress gear!

Kids Gear

Fortress Kids CoatsKid Classic Hoodie Coat/Pants

If you have kids, you know how long it takes to get all their snow gear on to go outside and play.  We’re talking a minimum of 25 minutes just to get the snow pants over the Paw Patrol jammies.  Don’t get me started on putting snow boots on a toddler.  Kids want to get outside, especially after it snows.  Do you want to build a snow man? As soon as you get outside, they’re cold and their tiny hands are turning bright red.

Time to head back inside.  The Fortress Clothing kids line solves that problem.  It’s just like the classic line for adults, except made especially for kids. The coat has a polyester mesh lining that keeps kids super warm, but not too hot on a cold winter day.  The hood is designed to follow the contour of a child’s head, which means the hood actually stays on! This is a great gear set for any family with small children. It’s perfect for the slopes and for building snow angels in the backyard.

Head and Hands

Fortress Glove ProTo stay warm and survive outside in the cold, you need to protect your head and hands.  Fortress Clothing designs its gloves and hats to follow the shape of your body. This intuitive design means their garments stay on better and keep the weather out. When it comes to gloves, you have three options: Classic Mitten, Classic Rugged Mitten and Glove Pro. The Classic Mitten is designed just like the Classic Jacket, Vest and Pant.  The gloves are insulated, wick away moisture and are treated with DWR to keep water away.

These are designed for outdoor recreation and not for industrial use, according to Fortress. The Classic Rugged Mitten is a little heavier duty than the classic.  From what I can tell, the mitten has a lining on the outside which would give you better grip.  The Glove Pro is the most expensive of three options.  This glove is designed for high intensity outdoor activities, like snowmobiling, building and other applications. The glove is rated for temperatures ranging from 30 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Surviving the Cold

Surviving In ColdTo understand why Fortress Clothing is a great investment, we need to take a look at how our body loses heat and why it’s so important to stay warm in the cold.  Our body loses heat basically four ways: convection (wind), conduction (touching cold objects), radiation and evaporation (sweating).  We lose about 85% of our body heat through evaporation.  Evaporation happens when we sweat.  If you get too sweaty in cold weather and you’re not wearing the proper clothing, you can actually die.  Hear me out.  Water (sweat) actually draws heat away from your body.

So, if you get too sweaty while working or playing outside in bitter cold temperatures, your core body temperature may drop really fast.  If you are wearing the wrong gear, like cotton, your garments can actually retain water, hold onto the sweat, and take all your body heat like a thief in the night.  When your body core drops below 95 degrees, you entered hypothermia.

Shivering typically indicates the beginning stages of hypothermia- it’s your body’s way of trying to generate heat.  After shivering, you being to become very sleepy, disoriented and then you need medical help right away. If your core body temperature gets too low, your vital organs, like your heart, brain and lungs, start to shut down.  This is why staying dry is so important to staying alive.

Layers

Layers are key to survival when enjoying the great outdoors in the middle of a blizzard.  I write more about this in another blog post.  The first layer is closest to your skin and is designed to wick away moisture and allow that moisture to evaporate through the other layers of your gear.  The first layer also keeps a think pocket of warm air close to your body, to keep you warm.  The mid layer is for insulation- keeping you nice and toasty, but not too hot.  You want this layer to be breathable as well.

The top layer, like a shell, protects you from wind, rain, snow and other harsh weather. According to survival experts, you must have the proper combination of breathable, insulating and moisture wicking gear to stay alive and stay dry while outside during the winter months.  If you get too hot, you’ll sweat and sweat can be a really bad thing.  Too cold and you set yourself up for hypothermia. The perfect balance of layers can mean the difference between life and death.

Fortress Clothing has developed its own system of layering that works well for whatever you have on the schedule.  Whether you are working in North Dakota or snowmobiling in Sun Valley, Fortress Clothing has you covered.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a fan of Fortress for a couple years now.  I have the Fortress Bug Out Bag and basically live in the Fortress hoodie.  Let’s take a look at all the garments and how they can help you stay warm this winter.

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