Having a utilitarian technical hoody for when the temps finally dip into their autumn breeze is essential. Be it an early morning ride or late afternoon jaunt into the mountains, the fall is all about layering. The best ones against the skin should wick away moisture, dry quickly, and keep you warm should you get caught out in the elements. Even more important is when you drop some coin on a garment, you hope it can be as versatile as billed. Below are a few baselayer hoodies that will get you through the chilly season, and be just as comfortable while donned under your shell this winter. We prefer the hoody versions, a relatively recent development in the baselayer category, because they keep your neck warm, offer sun protection, and can be flipped up when the weather turns. The pieces here are all available in men’s and women’s.
A new twist on Patagonia's recycled polyester called Capilene, the Cap Air blends merino wool (51 percent) with their recycled material in a seamless knit structure that provides incredible loft and warmth yet breathes very well. During POWDER’s Apparel Guide testing last spring, I noticed the product developers working out the kinks with the latest sample, and prior to heading to South America this summer I nabbed one. The high collar in the hood kept me warm during the morning chill, and its ability to wick away sweat while booting up couloirs was brilliant. The material also dries very quickly, and as I transitioned from sunny and hot temperatures to slapping my shell on and skiing down colder aspects, I never once was chilled or had a cold clammy feeling. The fit has a stretch element and is soft and comfortable--resembling a nice sweater top. So while it's technical, it can transition to the bar without looking too tight.
If you're going on a trip, and can only bring one baselayer top, Duckworth’s Vapor Snorkel Hood should be it. I have done just that: wearing it nonstop on a two-week bender of back-to-back hut trips. It performed consistently and didn't even smell. Well, not that much… The lightweight, quick drying wool blend has a natural stretch to it and is odor resistant thanks to wool’s inherent anti-microbial properties. Much of its amazing qualities comes from the fact that it's produced from Rambouille-Merino wool which is 100 percent grown in Montana (the product is also entirely produced in the USA). It isn't too slim, allowing it to transition from trail to town. Just mind the washing and drying instructions to keep it looking and fitting fresh.
The Deviator Hoody runs the fine balance of a baselayer with ever so slight insulation. Utilizing Polartec Alpha, one of best breathable insulation materials currently available, the hoody has Alpha insulation throughout the front with Power Grid (think polyester and Spandex waffle knit) along the sleeves and back. The combination works well for when you think you're dealing with benign weather and suddenly it begins to snow, howl with wind, or both. While shuffling along the Coast Range last spring, I found myself using it on colder tours with a wool T-shirt underneath when moving fast given how well it wicked away sweat, or as a backup in my pack if I knew the weather might change. It’s also perfect as a light layer since it has a full-zip along the front.