Gear Review: Outdoor Research Echo Hoody

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Handwarmer pockets keep fingers warm when you stop to admire the view. Photo by Brandon Scherzberg

There are technical shirts, and then there are “how did I ever live without this” technical shirts that entirely change how you think about dressing for the great outdoors. Outdoor Research’s Echo Hoody is one of those shirts. I was fully prepared to dislike this hoody. It felt too light to trap any warmth, too flimsy to hold up to sharp rocks, and too baggy to fit in with my style. Oh, how wrong I was.

The gear: Outdoor Research Women’s Echo Hoody

The breakdown: A lightweight, sweat-wicking sun hoody with UPF 15.

What I loved:

When I unwrapped this hoody from its packaging, my first thought was, “What the heck do I do with this?” But, since Outdoor Research advertises the shirt as universally functional, I figured a sunny, windy day of rock climbing would provide the ideal conditions in which to test it out: the steep approach up to Jurassic Park in Estes Park, Colorado, would get me sweaty and stinky, the whipping wind at the top of each climb would be brutally cold, and the unrelenting sun would give me a chance to see if this shirt fended off a burn.

Outdoor Research's Echo Hoody for women has a UPF rating of 15; Photo by Brandon Scherzberg

Outdoor Research’s Echo Hoody for women has a UPF rating of 15. Photo by Brandon Scherzberg

• The Airvent fabric: Silky smooth and featherlight, the almost-sheer fabric of the Echo Hoody feels incredible on your skin but traps enough warmth to actually fend off a chill. It also has sweat-wicking technology that draws sweat away from the skin where it can evaporate more quickly—pretty much required on the sweaty approach to our climb. By the time I was ready to climb, I was dry, which is crucial to staying warm in colder conditions.

• Quick-dry fabric: As mentioned above, this Hoody dries with super-hero speed. Since so many of my adventures take me from land to sea and back again, this is the perfect versatile hoody for sailing, SUPing, and searching for surf on chilly mornings.

• The pony tail hole and hood: No explanation needed.

• The sun protection: Born with a blonde/hair-blue eyes-fake tanner required complexion, I’ll take all the sun shielding I can get! This hoody has a UPF of 15 (which is within range of most sun-protective clothing on the market).

• The hip pocket: On the left side of the shirt is a small pocket, just large enough to stash an energy gel or car keys.

• Handwarmer cuffs: Fold-over fabric cuffs on the top of each hand give you built-in mittens for post-climb stretching or summit admiring sessions.

A hip pocket comes in handy for stashing car keys and energy gels; Photo by Brandon Scherzberg

A hip pocket comes in handy for stashing car keys and energy gels. Photo by Brandon Scherzberg

• The Infinite Guarantee: Yep, that’s forever. As in, as long as you can wear this Hoody, Outdoor Research will back it, fix it, and replace it.

• The color: Superficial, maybe, but what girl doesn’t like to color coordinate her gear at some point? The deep Orchid hue (with contrast trim) looks great with almost any color.

What I missed:

• Thumb holes! Maybe my arms are longer than most other women’s, and the sleeves did end up sitting in an odd spot on my arm. I would love to see a future iteration include some small, comfortable thumb holes.

• The hoody is advertised to have odor-fighting Polygiene technology, but I actually found it to hold on to less desirable smells, especially in the arm-pit region (though it quickly went away once I let the hoody air out for a few minutes).

• The general fit of the torso was feminine, but I would have liked a little more elasticity in the waist section. I prefer a longer, snugger fit throughout the torso. This hoody’s hem was looser and in windy conditions the bottom would flutter around.

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Outdoor Research’s Echo Hoody for women keeps you warm and dry despite its lightweight construction. Photo by Brandon Scherzberg

The verdict: If you need a versatile, quick-drying base layer for running or a lightweight hoody for cool climbing conditions, this is your piece.

Buy it: MSRP $59, outdoorresearch.com.

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