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Best Men’s Hoodies: Live like a Local

April 04, 2016

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  • Peter Reese
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From bro to banker, the hoody shows up from black sand shores to blacktop covered streets.  Doing more than reworking classic cotton to fit the moment, these four pieces pull their weight outside – even before owning the civilized life.

Ibex Indie Hoodie:  Beyond dispute

Ibex Hooded Indie Sweatshirt - Men's

There’s no questioning Indie’s ability to manage temperature, humidity, perspiration and general athletic exertion.  All Merino, taken to an 18.5 micro wool gauge, starts the 8.8oz piece off strong by balancing durability with premium comfort.  Flatlock seams, raglan sleeves and an interior chin guard give Indie a personalized feel even off the rack.  Semi-fit to please trimmer wearers, durable thumbholes moved this style from base to mid-layer among testers as did the moderate volume hood.  Few pieces take the glacier and still chill out -- minus stretching and sagging.  Vote Indie this year and no one will question your highly informed decision.

Tester Comments:  This piece easily makes it into the all-season, multi-sport “required gear” category with its easy-moving sleeves tucked behind its form-fitting back.  Active Junky can’t deny the materials quality, thoughtful construction and pure minimalism connected with Indie. Colorways are classic to avoid attracting undue attention in international settings while wearing it starts from the moment you leave home for the airport. 

Best For: Hiking, camping and multi-sport travel

Outdoor Research Ensenada Sun Hoody:  You deserve the rays

Outdoor Research Ensenada Sun Hoody

Active Junky picked this one for Baja glory thanks to UPF50 protection in a hang loose package.  Shirt underneath or not, there’s plenty of cool ventilation moving through the lightweight Modal fabric that’s more comforting than clammy.  A terry backer treatment rockets moisture to the surface while the hood defies blistering late afternoon radiation off the water.  At way under $100, Ensenada adds a zipped left chest pocket and armored drawstring tips for little touches with big appeal.  Construction is solid without being overdone, well conceived and yet not fussy.  Active Junky likes it and we’re out to convince you, too.  Verdict:  Watch the tide charts and leave sun protection to Outdoor Research.

Tester Comments:  Active Junky stumbled onto a tropical all-rounder that ushers breezy style into serious sun protection.  Quick drying without stretching, Ensenada’s hood is the perfect volume with or without skully, 5-panel cap or visored fishing hat.  The style’s body is generous enough to fit most athletes while shoulder construction permits unrestricted paddling of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.  Here’s a piece that masquerades as pure chill – until the waves are right and the ocean calls.  Consider it a sensible buy based upon the sun protection alone.

Best For: The beach life, travel to sunny locations around the globe

Bluesmiths Kula Windpro Hoody: Hawaiian for “genius”

Turn to watermen to know what works across months and years of staying stoked and getting thrashed.  Made in Canada, Kula is an anything-but-slacker design that pushes cheap tourist options aside.  More technical than most, the Polartec WindPro fabric rides variable weather out while resisting snags. Call it work wear for the wave-borne, Kula repels wind even as breathability eclipses lighter options.  Active Junky pulled it on coming out of the water – and couldn’t stop wearing it long after the sound of breakers faded.  Tailored with sharp lines that even loaded dual zip pockets can’t obscure, this hoody warrants three sharp blasts on the nearest conch shell.    

Tester Comments:  Don’t let Kula’s synthetic fabric throw you off-course, whether on the beach or in-motion on the water.  The feel is more organic than we’d anticipated while the hoody’s stain-fighting, beverage-repelling characteristics kept it in the game from Baja to the blustery coast of North Carolina.  What’s more, venting, zipped hand pockets hung loose when temps climbed.  Fashion-wise, this one’s going to be tough to beat. 

Best For: Surf, paddle, travel even inland

Check out the Bluesmiths Kula Windpro Hoodie >

Scottevest The Hoodie – Microfleece:  Ready to roll

Wearable technology is hot.  So is personal security.  The Hoodie takes to the street prepared to communicate and navigate without attracting attention.  Microfleece makes the base garment comfortable and machine washable even before ten pockets go to work.  While not guaranteed to confound pickpockets, it’s hard to imagine Barcelona’s best wending their way through Hoodie to get to the goodies.  Active Junky’s favorite deep storage? Divided chest pockets secured by magnetic closures.  Phone, wallet and passport slid in, stayed in place and didn’t show visible profiles to those nearby.  A set of exterior entry front pockets proved ideal for energy bars, a light skully or train schedules while the plush drawcord hood masqueraded as – nothing special.  Exactly the point.

Tester Comments:  Sherlock Holmes could spend a month ferreting out what any adventure traveler will likely organize – and protect – in this piece.  Taking this one beyond the burbs is the play here, particularly if international, semi-sketchy destinations are on the docket.  While some of the company’s products have a pronounced Euro vibe and a birdwatcher’s quirkiness, this one flows into the mainstream with confidence.  

Best For: Urban outings, travel, bike commuting, public transportation trips

Check out the SCOTTeVEST Microfleece Hoodie >

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