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REVIEW – Get Active With the Jack Wolfskin Active Hoody

The Jack Wolfskin Active Hoody is marketed as a base layer but having used it in a mixture of conditions, it’s safe to say it has much more to offer than just a top that will wick away your sweat.

A base layer is the item of clothing worn against your skin – one that will help to trap a layer of air and keep you warm, while wicking away any moisture to keep you dry. In essence, they have to functions; to keep you cool when you’re warm and to keep you warm when you’re cold.

The Active Hoody by Jack Wolfskin is a 91% polyester and part Elastane base layer with long sleeves, a ridiculously stretchy and long neck and a tight fitting hood. Three of those properties are fairly unusual, given that most base layers are invariably ‘just’ a top made of good quality material.

Jack Wolfskin have tried to do the ‘features thing’ again, but has it worked?

What these additions have caused is a slight confusion over the purpose of the Active Hoody. Is it really a base layer or is it actually a technical top? I’d argue it’s more of the latter but that it still serves both purposes well. It’s actually somewhat of a revelation in certain conditions.

Even in cold conditions, you should stay pretty warm.

Even in cold conditions, you should stay pretty warm.

Here’s what I found.

On a mountain day, setting out shortly after sunrise in dense fog and a cool breeze, I wore the Active Hoody as intended; as a base layer. Below the Jack Wolfskin Composite Action Jacket, it did indeed keep me cool and almost entirely moisture free. The neck is expandable, sitting loosely around your neck like a snood you’ve pulled down or as far up as your eyes depending on how much warmth you want to retain.

Combined with the stretchy and very close fitting hood, you can cover your entire head to a point where you are protected by what is effectively a balaclava, leaving only your eyes exposed and your cover as a burglar now complete.

With the hood up and the neck partly extended.

With the hood up and the neck partly extended.

Because the Active Hoody is your lowest layer, the hood can be pulled out nicely to sit on-top of your second or even third layers and when you decide to pull the hood up, there’s nothing in the way of it so it seals nicely around your head.

I have found in the past that I could only get away with a base layer alone if the weather was warm; in summer. With the Jack Wolfskin Active Hoody, you will be able to wear it alone, even on a morning that’s quite cool. Because of the neck and hood, plus the slight insulation it offers, you will remain warm. If you’re a rebel, you could stick a ‘normal’ base layer below it and use it as a technical top and find it works just as well.

Think about it, it’s a fairly warm day but the wind is blowing a gale that makes it too cold for just a standard base layer or a t-shirt but warm enough that means putting a jacket on is out of the question. The Active Hoody will not only keep you at the right temperature, but unlike a fleece that you might otherwise be wearing, the hood will keep the wind out of your ears and the neck will stop your face being battered. It’s surely a win win.

Using the Active Hoody as a technical top rather than a base layer.

Using the Active Hoody as a technical top rather than a base layer.

Almost entirely black, just a few grey stitching lines break it up.

Almost entirely black, just a few grey stitching lines break it up.

The cuffs feature thumb holes to keep the base of your hand warm and to prevent the sleeves rolling up when you put another layer on top. As the name suggests, it’s an active fit – form fitting, no excess and stretchy thanks to the 9% elastane. Jack Wolfskin call it a ‘dual stretch, ultra-breathable and moisture regulating’ material, that uses their Nanuk Dynamic fleece, giving a fluffy and velour fleece interior. Speaking of the material, it also includes technology that prevents the growth of odour-causing bacteria so you should stay cleaner, fresher and not-potent for a bit longer. I haven’t put this to the test as volunteers were hard to come by…

So what does the Active Hoody look like? Is it something you might be able to keep on when you’re out with friends or shopping with your other half? In my opinion, yes it is. I wouldn’t advise walking around with the neck up while you’re in the Apple Store but in the black version at least, it’s casual enough to be worn with jeans or chinos without looking out of place. There is a blue version sold alongside the more discreet black one – it has a deep blue body with orange seams. Both look great outdoors but black is more suitable for casual use.

An active fitting, stretchy base layer or technical top.

An active fitting, stretchy base layer or technical top.

As for the cost, it is £65 RRP which is more than a lot of standard base layers but surprisingly significantly cheaper than the most comparable Ice Breaker model. Once again, the quality of the stitching and the product as a whole cannot be faulted and I continue to be more and more impressed with the quality of finish present in Jack Wolfskin’s products.


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