Can you have too much polar fleece? I’m struggling with the answer to that question as I eye the gear that’s coming out for fall. I’ve got a lot of it, some of it quite old, as it seems to last longer than I expected it too. Even while I’m switching out a lot of my wardrobe for natural fibers, I’m looking at new polar fleece mid-layers with much better design than my old stuff.
I’ve been trying out hoodies from Triple Aught Design; one fleece, one wool. Packing a hoody is essential for this traveler; it’s perfect airplane wear and you need some kind of warm, versatile mid-layer when you travel.
The fleece version is the Valkyrie. It retails for over $200.00, a steep price tag when you’re used to getting your fleece as corporate swag like I am. It’s made from Polartec Wind Pro — that’s their breathable wind stop fabric. You’ll need a rain shell if it’s really wet, but for a little damp weather, it’s just fine.
The Valkyrie is covered in pockets — hand warmer pockets at the waist, biceps pockets on each side for your mp3 player or phone (with pass-throughs for your headset cables), and a key or lift ticket pocket on the left lower arm. There’s a pass through pocket in the back, too, There’s no interior wallet pocket, though — that’s what I’d add.
There’s a fitted hood — the shape is great and there’s some heavier weight stuff around the outside to help it keep that shape. When the zipper is all the way up, the tab tucks into a finished slot so it doesn’t scratch your face; a nice details. The underarms are vented with button holes rather than zips; kind of a nice change to the usual pit zips, plus, because the pockets are mesh lined on the inside, you can open them for venting. There’s a drawstring at the waist to keep the wind out.The truth? It’s a really nice mid-weight moderate weather sweater-type layer. It’s made in the US, and how many companies can you say that about? I’m struggling with the price tag, though, American made apparel or no. I did a little comparison shopping; the prices are comparable with other similar items made out of the same material. My sticker shock might be due to the fact that my older wind-stop fleece jacket is office swag.
I’m less stressed by the 159.00 price tag on the Artemis hoody, a streamlined merino wool version of the classic sweatshirt hoody. This thing looks great and feels great. The cut is super stylish, fitting, with a soft draping hood and thumb loops in the sleeves. You can absolutely wear this as a base layer in the outdoors, but it’s great on its own too. It comes in black or gray, so it’s appropriate as your evening formal hoody though you’ll be perfectly happy wearing it with those flannel jammies while you wander around with a cup of coffee in hand. The sweater bears a “Made in China” tag, that may explain the more mid-range pricing.
Triple Aught Design has a full line of outdoor gear — if the stuff I’ve been trying out is any indication, their clothing is cut quite nicely and they’ve got a keen eye for materials and detail. I kind of like their travel porn inspired Flickr feed, especially this one featuring their packs.
Want your own Triple Aught Design gear? Check their website.
Images courtesy of Triple Aught Design.