With the temperature dropping and wetter weather on the way — if it hasn’t already arrived in your region — the need for warmer clothes creeps back into our lives. Enter hoodie season.
While many people these days see hooded jackets and sweatshirts as fashion staples rather than as prepper apparel, this versatile piece of clothing has long proven that function can indeed match form.
Hoodies are warm enough to keep us from catching a chill, but light enough so that we aren’t suffering in our own personal saunas. They offer cover from the elements and a way to warm up our noggins in a hurry. But wait, there’s more.
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Some hooded jackets are not only good for protection against inclement weather, but also provide camouflage opportunities. Want to blend into a crowd? A non-descript hoodie can help you look like an everyman. Need to draw from concealment? There’s one with built-in features for that, too. Carrying $1,000 worth of gear but don’t want to look like you have anything valuable? Read on to discover a hoodie that is actually designed for that purpose.
Shopping for a hooded jacket is like shopping for anything useful; it’s best to pay particular attention to your needs and what the intended use is. A thick cotton hoodie won’t be great if you’re hiking in pouring rain, while a non-insulated windbreaker won’t do much to keep you warm when you’re out in the snow — get the picture? Weather, terrain, overall comfort, useful features, as well as your aesthetic preferences should dictate which hoodie is best for you and when.
Whether you’re preparing for a trip to a foreign city or a day trek out into the wilds, there’s a suitable hooded jacket that’s right for the job. Therefore, we try on several hoodies to find out which one can help you stay prepared.
A Brief Hoodie History
Where did the hoodie get its start? The skateboarders of the 1980s? Nope. The graffiti artists and break-dancers of the 1970s? Go back further. Much further — you can thank medieval monks for your favorite hoodie. Well, sort of. Monks wore hooded robes for warmth in unheated churches, and the style eventually spread throughout Europe. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s that the hoodie that we now know and love came to be. The Knickerbocker Knitting Company claims to have made the first hooded sweatshirt in the Dirty ’30s to protect athletes and laborers from bad weather. You know that company today under the brand name Champion.
5.11 Tactical Taclite Anorak Jacket
Brown, stone, tundra (shown)
Polyester/cotton shell with cotton twill lining
RAPIDraw pass-through pocket, secure document chest pockets, structured hood, storm collar, adjustable cuffs
Featuring reinforced stitching throughout its construction, this jacket is clearly designed for hard use. It does a good job keeping wet weather out with its three-panel hood, storm flaps, and adjustable cuffs. Unlike other jackets in this guide, the Taclite Anorak is built to let you quickly reach a concealed-carry weapon (CCW). Its front pass-through pocket allows for access to gear by both hands, and a covert pass-through at the bottom of the pocket allows you to draw from the waist. The jacket also has full-length zippered side vents that allow for access to waist-worn sidearms.
- If staying warm and dry without sacrificing CCW capability is important to you, this is certainly a worthy option to consider.
- CCW compatibility
- Insulated throughout
- The all-over insulation comes at a cost. It’s on the heavier side, and its frumpy look doesn’t score any points in the style department.
- Unstylish look
Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody Men’s
Adriatic blue (shown), basalt, black, blaze, bourbon, magma, silver lining, twin leaf
Gusseted underarms for enhanced movement, lightweight construction, compressible and packable, wind resistant, water repellent, hood is helmet compatible, stows away in its own pocket
Arc’teryx calls this hooded jacket a “hooded windshell,” which is a perfect description for it as it feels more like a shell than a full-on jacket. The Squamish Hoody is an extremely lightweight and compressible jacket, constructed of durable wind-resistant and water-repellent nylon fabric. In fact, it’s so light and packable that it can actually be stowed in one of its own pockets for compact storage. We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that its lightweight design means that its not insulated, but if ounces and space are a premium in your pack, this jacket is a viable option. Arc’teryx designed it with freedom of mobility as a key feature. The Squamish Hoody’s cut and gusseting provides ease of movement for just about any activity. It is equipped with Arc’teryx’s StormHood, which is helmet compatible and can be cinched with one-handed draw cords.
- A jacket that’s lightweight, wind-resistant, water-repellent, and small enough to be packed into one of its pockets is a keeper in our book. The fact that the hood is helmet compatible and can be cinched one-handed puts it over the top.
- Packs into its own pocket
- Wind and water resistant
- This jacket might be great for warmish to cool, windy environments, but this uninsulated windbreaker won’t do anything to ward off the cold when the mercury really drops.
- Limited application
- Light, thin construction may lack durability
- Athletic fit makes layering underneath a challenge
Beyond Clothing Alpha Lochi Jacket
Nylon with synthetic insulation
U.S. made, reversible, insulated with Polartec Alpha, water repellent, compressible, breathable
Beyond Clothing’s line is based on a concept called Axios, a seven-layer system for varying activities. The Alpha Lochi Jacket falls within the A3 layer, which is primarily for active insulation. Developed with cold environments in mind, this jacket features Polartec Alpha insulation that transfers moisture away from the body to keep you both dry and warm, even when you’re active in cold climates. It is reversible for low-profile use and features zippered pockets both inside and out. Its outer surfaces are treated with durable water repellent (DWR) to keep you protected from wind and rain.
- The Alpha Lochi can tackle it all. It’s water and wind resistant, insulated for warmth, and compressible for easy storage. On top of all that, it’s reversible and made in America, too. What’s not to like?
- Insulated and compressible
- Made in the USA
- What’s not to like is the price — ouch! Also, the hood lacks drawstrings and cannot be cinched tight.
- Steep price … but you get Jekyl and “hide” with this one.
- Lack of cinchable hood
Kühl Spyfire Hoodie
Olive, pirate blue (shown), raven
Nylon with down insulation
Water resistant, windproof, 800-fill goose-down insulation, advanced materials, five-panel adjustable hood, precision 3D fit, underarm zippable cooling panels
The Spyfire Hoody is made up of four different fabrics, each engineered for a specific purpose. Its “precision 3D fit” is designed to naturally follow your body’s shape for the ultimate in fit and comfort. The goose-down-filled baffles are sized differently for better heat distribution. For example, you’ll find thinner, smaller baffles on the inside underarm panels to reduce bulk and overheating. The hood has a protruding brim, is made of five panels, and is adjustable at its opening and at the back for a fine-tuned fit. When not in use, the hood lays flat. The Spyfire Hoody is built with two zippered chest pockets, two zippered hand pockets, one zip pocket on the sleeve, and an inside mesh pocket.
- Kühl has another winner on its hands. The lightweight Spyfire Hoody features a two-way adjustable hood and has ventilation options to keep the user from overheating.
- Insulation and ventilation features
- This jacket’s slim profile isn’t for everyone. We’re also pretty sure that it prices itself out of a few budgets.
- Fit isn’t for everyone
- On the pricey side
Kitanica American Hoodie
Black, flat dark earth, stone green (shown)
USA made, 200-weight fleece, flat lock stitching, ventilated front pocket with admin features, covered pen tube
Made in America of 200-weight fleece and constructed with flat lock stitching, the American Hoody is as warm as it is comfortable. Its gusseted hood has a stiffened brim with an adjustable cinching shock cord. The left bicep features Kitanica’s signature covered pen tubes mounted on a zippered pocket and the right arm has a Velcro patch field ready to accept your morale patch of choice. The large pocket on the front can be accessed from either side and features a mesh backing, serving as front ventilation in warmer temps when the pockets are left unzipped. The neatest feature is found on the interior of the front pocket. On the mesh backing is a Velcro enclosed small admin pocket used to help secure smaller items like keys, wallet, or phone.
- There are plenty of storage options in and on this hoodie; our favorite is the admin pocket inside the large front pocket. Ventilation is available for warmer temperatures.
- Pocket within a pocket
- Ventilation option
- Those who live a “tactical lifestyle” can probably pick this hoodie out of a crowd, possibly making it more difficult for the wearer to remain unnoticed.
- Tactical look
- Pen pocket can snag when putting on a backpack or walking through rough terrain.
Hazard 4 Beachhead Fuzzy Lycra Hoodie
Black, coyote (shown)
UV-Protection Fuzzy Lycra
Breathable, moisture-wicking interior, highly UV-protective, forearm zip-pockets, Raglan sleeves for ease of arm movement, won’t shrink or fade, dries quickly
Hazard 4’s Beachhead hoodie has a stretchy feel and features a smooth exterior and a unique, breathable, moisture-wicking fuzzy Lycra interior. The interior’s fuzz is comfortable and adds additional warmth while not absorbing moisture. The hoodie is feature rich and includes plenty of pockets, as well as Velcro panels for your choice of patches. Its long zipper pulls make zipper manipulation with gloves on a breeze. The Beachhead is UV protective and quick to dry when wet. Hazard 4 promises that this hoodie will not shrink or fade, which makes it great for long-term wear.
- The Beachhead’s raglan-style sleeves allow for ease of arm movement, and its fuzzy Lycra interior certainly is very comfortable. We especially like its lightweight and quick-drying properties.
- Interior is warm and comfy
- The form-fitting cut may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Its tactical look could be a turn off for those looking to blend in.
- Slim fit can be an issue for some
- A little too tactical looking for those who prefer something more discreet