I might be wrong about puffy jackets without hoods
We all have those hills that we are willing to die on, something that we believe so strongly that we’ll alienate friends because our views are so staunch.
I have many such hills (some silly, some not so much), but one I have been especially willing to own is that I do not think that puffy jackets should ever be bought without a hood.
I love hoods. I practically live in hoodies (and my sweatpants, but hey I work from home and I can. Don’t @ me) year round. I have many different jackets and they all have hoods. I own:
- Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (got on sale for 50% off)
- The North Face Morph puffy (free)
- Arc’teryx Alpha SV shell (10 years old!)
- The North Face Ventrix (free)
- Patagonia Stretch Nano Storm (50% off, new so no review yet)
I love them all for different reasons. But now I am starting to wonder if I need to invest in a non-hooded puffy jacket.
2013 me would be flabbergasted right now. “I hate jackets without hoods! What am I supposed to do when it gets cold or rainy?”
When I lived in New York and San Francisco, this was reality. I’d be out and about all day in the city and sometimes it would start raining. Voila, up goes the hood.
But now that we live in Denver, have been here for over a year, and routinely are in the mountains most of every weekend when we are not traveling I am starting to see the error of my ways.
Let me tell you why I think sometimes you need a mid-layer without a hood.
Multiple hoods get bulky
My wife and I have taken up backcountry skiing in the last few years, and no time is more obvious that multiple hoods get bulky at the back of your head than when you’ve skinned up a mountain, removed your skins, and put on your helmet in the dumping snow. I loved my Arc’teryx Alpha SV because of the large storm hood, but if you have a hooded puffy mid layer underneath then you are stuck with a few options and all of them suck:
- Put the puffy hood under your helmet, in which case you’re just a Jerry;
- Try to fit both over your helmet, except one is normally not made to fit over helmets;
- Bunch the inner one inside and just use the outer hood, which makes you look like Quasimodo.
I used to just deal with it, or wonder why I was so warm and annoyed.
Might it be the multiple hoods?
High zips can replace a buff
When you live in a place like Colorado and ski in very cold temperatures, you need a Buff. You can either wear it higher on your head or around your neck to pull up over your chin and mouth when the chairlift gets cold or the windy updraft hits you while cruising some groomers.
But having a bottom layer, a mid layer, a buff, and an outer layer can become untenable. Plus, when you try to zip up your top shell to cover up your face at the same time, you can feel like you are suffocating (or at least I do) because of so many layers.
But what if the non-hooded jacket could serve as your buff to keep your neck warm and as a place to bury your chin when it’s cold on the chairlift?
They let out heat better
One reason to have a hood is to keep the heat in, but what about when you want to let your layers regulate your body themselves? While hoods keep the heat in, once they start to bunch up in the back when you are already warm then you’ll find yourself getting overheated.
This becomes a big problem when you’re being active and trying not to sweat, then have to transition to being ready for downhill. IF you’ve been sweating on the ascent, then standing still and waiting for others to finish transitioning to downhill can become an exercise in becoming used to being very cold.
So what to do?
As I said, I’ve recently rethought this long-held “hoods only” position of mine, so I haven’t bought (or been sent) a hoodless puffy to try out yet.
So let’s not get crazy, but yeah, I’m rethinking my position.