Gadling gear review: First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie

As travelers and outdoor enthusiasts we all have a piece of gear that we simply can’t leave home without. It could be your favorite hat, backpack, or hiking shoes, but whether you’re headed out of town for a long weekend or jetting out of the country for an extended adventure, it is the one item that you simply can’t leave behind. For me, that piece of gear has become the Hangfire Hoodie from First Ascent, a comfortable and versatile jacket that has already accompanied me on trips to four different continents.

The First Ascent line of gear comes to us from Eddie Bauer, a company that built its reputation on designing great outdoor gear. The new line was launched two years ago with the help of some of the best mountaineering guides in the world, who provided advice and invaluable insights based on their years of experience in the mountains. The result has been a new line of outdoor gear that has already set the bar high for other gear manufacturers to try to match.

While much of the First Ascent gear is designed for high altitude adventures in extreme weather, the Hangfire Hoodie is a jacket that can be used not only on the summit of a mountain but also kicking around town. It has a great looking design that garners attention where ever you go, and I’ve regularly had others stop me to ask about it. No one ever said that your outdoor gear can’t look as good as it performs, and First Ascent has taken that idea to heart.

Made from two-way stretch fleece, the Hangfire is designed to be warm while also wicking moisture away from the skin. That combination makes it a great piece of kit to have with you in nearly all weather conditions. The fabrics are highly water resistant, while still breathing very nicely, which means you need to be caught out in some seriously wet conditions before this jacket will allow its wearer to get wet. I have personally worn the Hangfire in everything from light rains to heavy snows, and it has remained warm and comfortable the whole time, even when temperatures dropped below freezing.The Hangfire’s mountaineering roots are evident in its design as well. The jacket fits snugly, but doesn’t restrict movement in any way, which makes it great for any active outdoor pursuit. The integrated hood wraps warmly around the head, but is still stretchy enough to pull over a climbing helmet, and the three large zip-pockets keep essential gear items close at hand for when you need them. These simple, yet much appreciated, details are part of what separates a merely good piece of gear from a great one.

When the hoodie is integrated into your cold weather layering system, its versatility really begins to show. Pull it over your base layers to protect against the wind, then add an outer shell to turn the Hangfire into the perfect insulating layer as well. A layering system such as this one allows you to stay warmer and dryer while playing outside, and gives you a variety of options for how to best stay comfortable.

That versatility extends the usefulness of the jacket beyond the mountain however, as it means you can wear it in cooler temperatures no matter where you’re at. I like to keep the Hangfire in my carry on bag to be pulled out as needed on long international flights or upon arrival at my destination. It is lightweight, packs small, and is simply my favorite piece of gear to take on my adventures, whether that’s to the top of snow capped peak or down the street to the local pub.

First Ascent has a real winner on their hands with the Hangfire Hoodie, and with an MSRP of just $99, it is a fantastic investment for active travelers who can appreciate everything that it has to offer.