First Ascent 'Tech Hoodies'

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.


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.


Women’s Bat Hang Hoodie

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.

—T.C. Worley

Posted by Colin - 10/01/2010 02:50 PM

Sorry, I’ll stick with my Patagonia R1 Hoody—of which this is a blatant knock-off.

I do like that the First Ascent stuff appears to be quality gear at more-reasonable prices, but the extra $50 for the R1 is more worth it (I think) in this case than the comparison on some other stuff.

Glad they’re trying to bring things in at a “value” level, but this is a blatant rip-off… and they got rid of the thumb loops? WTF?

Posted by Nick - 10/01/2010 03:35 PM

Yeah, it’s a copy of the R1 Hoody (which is one of the best pieces of gear around), but so what?

Lowe Alpine used to make the Ninja Hoody, which competed with the R1, but that sadly went away. they have brought back a slightly different version, but I haven’t seen it anywhere in the states. The R1 Hoody actually went extinct for a while, but the Patagonia sponsored climbers complained so much that they brought it back.

Glad to see someone else has gone with the design, maybe it’ll increase in popularity and the R1 will be around for many more years to come.

I would like to know how this version compares in thickness to the R1, sometimes I think the R1 is a little much in the warmth department, and does it have the long cut like the R1 (made to easily go under a climbing harness).

Posted by Irishman - 10/01/2010 11:06 PM

All these things are a pretty good idea. I’ve got one of the Lowe Ninja’s which wasn’t initially comfortable next to skin. I had to wash it a bit to break it in and soften it some. Probably some of the reason for it’s demise. I think that it’s early body mapping technology resulted in a stiffer, scratchier feeling fleece that took those washings to break in. These things work dang fine under a powershield though, and you can’t lose all your hats either…

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