As folks who spend the majority of our time outside, like many of you, we’re on the never-ending quest to find the perfect layer for our pursuits.
Lately, we’ve been impressed by the latest offerings from the folks at Sitka; an outdoor clothing/gear company based out of Bozeman, Montana. Although geared primarily towards the hunting industry, many of our guides and guests have been reaching for some of their outerwear for the water as well, with nothing but great things to say.
Therefore, we recently hopped on the bandwagon to test out their most technical base/mid layer style hoody, the Fanatic Hoody. We’re sure glad we did too, because its quickly become the favorite layer amongst several members of our guide team, and today we’re going to tell you why.
One of our favorite everyday layers amongst our guides in Alaska is a lightweight grid fleece hoody. First popularized by Patagonia’s R1 line, and later utilized by other great manufacturers such as in Simms’ Axis hoody, grid fleece is not only more comfortable than standard non-stretch Polartec fleece, it also breathes better making for a great all-day layer in cooler climates. When worn under a lightweight puffy vest and over a merino wool or capeliene baselayer, we think it makes for one of the most versatile layering systems possible where temperatures are subject to a high level of fluctuation.
Why are we telling you this? Because Sitka’s Fanatic Hoody is also a super stretchy, super comfortable, grided fleece hoody! What makes it different from the others on the market, you ask? For starters, higher loft grid fleece is used in conjunction with a lighter a lighter ‘micro-fleece’ material that, according to Sitka, is strategically mapped to zones on the body that require differing levels of insulation to help better regulate body temperature.
Its also a half-zip pullover (as opposed to a full-zip jacket) which we’ve really grown to like. Not only does that help to eliminate bulk when layering under other zippered layers (vests, wading jackets, etc), it also allows for a traditional hand warmer pocket as found on your run of the mill hooded sweatshirt which we love for those cool days off of the water too.
But that’s not all. It also has a bunch of super unique features we’ve yet to see from a mid layer such as a..
Built In Buff/Facemask
Hands down our favorite feature about the Fanatic Hoody is the addition of a built in facemask incorporated into the back of the hood.
Need to keep the sun off? Simply pull the facemask over your head and onto your face. Bugs bumming you out? Pull the facemask over your face, put the hood up over your hat, zip the hoody up tight, and you’re ready for the worst. Don’t want the facemask in the way? Leave it laying flat in the back of the hood and forget its even there. Brilliant. We love the design of the built in facemask and find we use it for a whole bunch of different purposes on the water.
Hand Warmer Mitts
Arguably the most unique feature of the Fanatic Hoody are the fold over mitts incorporated into the sleeves. When not folded over completely, deep thumb holes allow the sleeves to hang over the palm and back of the hands.
We found this to be a great feature to protect hands from the sun over a long day of rowing. The sleeve is also able to flip completely over creating a full mitt, which can be great when it comes time to warm up the digits on a cold day.
As expected, the downside to the flip over mitt is that due to an extra layer of fabric needed to create the mitt itself, they do have a tendency to absorb excess water if submerged. That being said, because the fabric is minimal, we’ve found the mitts to dry quicker than expected and thus worth their benefits when dry.
Another thing we really dig about the Fanatic Hoody is the fit, which we believe was intentionally designed with layering in mind. For starters, although by no means ‘tight,’ the overall fit is cut a little closer to the body than some other similar layers we’ve used, making it much more comfortable when layered on top of. Plus, the hoody features a long shirttail which rides comfortably under a wading belt. The sleeves also fit snuggly around the wrist which we find slides in and out wading jackets much more comfortably than most mid layers.
We also really like the hood design, which fits tightly over a ball cap with virtually no hindrance to peripheral vision. In fact, when zipped up, the hood fits tight enough to keep your hat from blowing into the drink, which is something anyone who has fished from a jet boat can appreciate.
The Fanatic Hoody is quickly becoming a guide favorite amongst our staff at Alaska West. Admittedly, we find ourselves wearing it far too many days in a row than the average nose can stand, which we think is a testament to how versatile it is.
Available in black, forest green, and Sitka’s Elevated Ambush camouflage (ahem, great for stalking wary trout), the Fanatic Hoody retails for $189.00 and can be found at your nearest Sitka dealer or online by clicking right here.
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