Review: Appalachian Gear Co. All-Paca Fleece Hoodie
When I first threw on the Appalachian Gear Co. All-Paca Fleece Hoodie while wearing a short sleeve t-shirt, my first thought was “this thing is itchy.” I almost left it at home on my most recent hike of Mt. Adams in Washington state but boy am I glad I didn’t. After the first couple times you wear this hoodie, the itchiness gives way to cashmere like softness and the performance from this layer are unmatched by any other material!
In the design department, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this hoodie. It’s a solid color hoodie, with a small patch with the App Gear Co. logo on it. It’s by no means a bad design if you’re like me and you prefer more plain clothing and value function over fashion. There are a few different colors and it should be noted that they do run about a size big. When I told Cole from Appalachian Gear Co. that I usually wear a medium, he recommended a small and I’m sure glad he did. The small fits me perfectly and I’m certain that I would’ve been swimming in a medium.
When I think of an alpaca, my mind goes to a small giraffe-like creature that spits on people and then looks at them with an underbite and crazy eyes. (Clearly I grew up watching Emperor’s New Groove) But I never would’ve guessed that behind that psychotic stare was the key to the ultimate material in the adventure/outdoor industry! Alpaca fleece checks all of the boxes for the adventure enthusiast. It’s lightweight, packable, breathable, warm while wet or dry, dries quickly, durable, and alpaca fiber is antimicrobial which means you can wear it for weeks on many adventures and it won’t start to smell like Kronk’s burning spinach puffs. Ok, I’m done with the movie reverences, I promise. This combination creates the perfect mid or outer layer for when the temperature starts to drop and I find myself itching for the next time it’s cool enough to don my new hoodie. Speaking of itching, I mentioned earlier about how this layer was uncomfortable the first time I wore it. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty bummed when I threw this hoodie on for the first time and felt like I was being hugged by someone in a tweed suit but if you’re willing to tough it out, the tweed hug will end and you’ll be left with what’s quickly become my new favorite hoodie!
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well this hoodie has held up to the abuse I’ve put it through. I took it up Mt. Adams and ended up sliding down a scree field and you can’t even tell. In my opinion, if something can withstand a tussle with lava rock, it’s pretty damn durable. The fleece looks incredibly thin, almost even see-thru when you stretch it out but something about the fiber makes it surprisingly tough. I’m interested to see how it stands up to extended wear and tear. Appalachian Gear Co. claim that it’s designed for backpacking and climbing and the seams are super tough so it should be able to handle most of what I have to throw at it.
Unfortunately, the price of this hoodie is its Achilles heel. At $145, this jacket is definitely not for the budget hiker but if you’re living on the trail for extended periods of time, some may be able to swallow this price tag a bit easier. In fact, while I was doing some hiking in Oregon, I ran into a group that is thru-hiking the entire 2,600+ mile Pacific Crest Trail and I talked with them about the hoodie and a couple of them even said they were going to pick one up. The fact the hoodie is made in America using responsibly-sourced alpaca fiber from Peru does help buffer this expensive price tag a bit but for many, a $145 hoodie would be a huge turn off for a light-midweight hoodie.
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