Here in Minnesota, cold is creeping back into the land. Several days ago, I heard my furnace kick on for the first time. Soon, I will be layering my clothing to keep the chill off, and one of my favorite pieces will still be the Eddie Bauer First Ascent Bat Hang hoodie, a 2009 piece that is lighter than a sweatshirt and tapered to hug the body.
I’d love to tell you all about the Bat Hang. But Eddie Bauer First Ascent does not make it for men this year. Instead, First Ascent offers the $99 Expedition Weight Baselayer Hoodie, an updated version of the Bat Hang that trades out a few features. For women, the 2010 version is still called the Bat Hang, though it shares the same features as the new men’s Expedition Weight Baselayer Hoodie.
What makes these hoodies unique? Fabric throughout is a grid-pattern fleece that weighs less than standard fleece and traps warm air next to the body. Gone on the 2010 models are the thumb holes on the cuffs (which I actually really liked!), but the hood is still killer: It is thin and snug like a built-in balaclava. The hood’s zipper takes a diagonal course across your face, ending at your cheekbone rather than your nose — smart. It’s just the thing to seal in heat when the temp drops, or winds pick up. For small items like lip balm or sunblock, there’s a single zippered chest pocket.
Don’t let the term “hoodie” fool you. This is no sweatshirt. The company calls these pieces its “warmest next-to-skin performance base layers.” You can wear them over a thinner base layer top in cold conditions. Or, it’s comfortable on the skin. It is technical apparel, a layering piece that can be worn under a shell or alone as outerwear on moderate days (or during brisk activity).
I’ve run, hiked, skied, mountaineered and worn my First Ascent hoodie casually around town. For the $99 asking price, you get a lot of versatility, and in turn a lot of use out of this kind of piece. If you’re looking for a mid-weight piece that does it all, one of the First Ascent hoodies could be your trick.