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500 Miles, No Stink: Burgeon Highlander Hoodie Review

A microgrid synthetic fleece hoodie that’s breathable, durable, warm, and affordable from a mountain brand focused on environmental impacts. Meet the Burgeon Highlander Hoodie.

(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)
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As a hiker, I want gear that can “do it all” and that’s affordable. It’s a tall order. Gear (and apparel, especially) gets a lot of wear and tear when you’re hiking trails like the Appalachian Trail (AT). It needs to be light enough to carry long distances, breathable, warm, and durable to boot. Finding anything that checks those boxes and won’t break the bank is rare.

But when I came across Burgeon Outdoor, a small brand out of Lincoln, N.H., and found its Highlander Hoodie, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. It was a lightweight microgrid fleece, with a drawcord hood, snap button, and kangaroo pocket for $90. I bought it while on a thru-hike of the AT. I was also using a natural fiber alpaca sun hoodie and compared the two over the trip.

By the end, the former had fared far better than the latter — especially when it came to the stink factor.

In short: The Burgeon Highlander Hoodie packs easily into my pack and makes for a breathable but warm midlayer. Its overall functionality made it a daily driver on the AT. But what really sold me was how much less it stank by the end of my 500-mile hike, compared to my other natural fiber hoodie.

If you’re in the market for a fleece midlayer, check out GearJunkie’s guide to the Best Fleece Jackets.

Burgeon Highlander Hoodie


  • Price $90
  • Weight 8-10.5 oz.
  • Fabrication Made in the USA in Lincoln, N.H.
  • Care Machine wash cold, gentle cycle; let air dry.
  • Fabric 100% polyester, Cyberknit (Hickory, Tenn.)

Burgeon Highlander Hoodie Review

I was first introduced to the Highlander Hoodie while I was on the Appalachian Trail. I met another hiker who was wearing it, and I was attracted to its light weight and breathability. In comparison to the natural fiber hoodie I had been sporting for the first 1,600 miles, the Highlander hoodie looked like the upgrade I needed.

For $90, this seemed like a true do-it-all synthetic hoodie.

Features & Fit

(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

Marketed as a trail-to-town hoodie, the Highlander Hoodie is well-constructed. It has reinforced seams and a large, spacious hood equipped with drawstrings and a snap closure.

The large kangaroo pocket is spacious enough to store snacks, a phone, hats and gloves, sunglasses, and other things you might need on hand.

However, the sizing runs small, and sizing up is recommended. I’m a 5’4″, 160-pound woman, and I bought a men’s large because I wanted a hoodie that was extra roomy.

Durability & Longevity

(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

Since buying my Burgeon Highlander Hoodie, I have been impressed by its durability. This hoodie has been put through the wringer. It has dealt with the wet, humid, and rugged conditions of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

For all the scrambling, slipping, and sliding this hoodie put up with, it is still in great shape. The elbows and other high-wear areas have no wear marks or signs of use. And it still feels as warm as the day I bought it. Although microgrid fleece tends to pack down and lose loft over years of use, time will tell if it packs down and loses any warmth.

Ease of Care

Burgeon Highlander Synthetic Fleece Hoodie
(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

Unlike my natural-fiber hoodie, I didn’t have to worry about destroying the Highlander in the wash or shrinking it during drying. I tossed it in the washer, dried it in the dryer, and called it a day. (Was I supposed to use the dryer? No, but when you are thru-hiking sometimes compromises must be made.)

It didn’t require special detergent or a special cycle — I just tossed it in and forgot about it. And despite my not following proper care instructions, my hoodie is still in almost-new condition.

My Favorite Midlayer

(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

The Highlander’s soft microgrid fleece layered perfectly under a puffy or synthetic coat without overheating during the winter months. And it is still warm enough as a midlayer to be worn by itself or under a windbreaker during the spring and fall.

I found the midweight fleece perfect for cooler mornings and evenings while backpacking on the AT. And in the colder months, it was a great layer for trail running. It was enough to keep me from overheating while hiking or running, but it had just enough insulation to wear around without becoming chilled.

No-Stink Synthetic

Burgeon Highlander Synthetic Fleece Hoodie
(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

One of the reasons I didn’t start hiking the AT with a synthetic fleece hoodie was the dreaded “synthetic stink.” For those who don’t know, synthetic clothing has an uncanny knack for retaining body odor and other unpleasant smells. That’s because synthetic fibers tend to hold onto more malodor-associated bacteria better than natural fibers like wool. Think of your gym clothes and how they don’t smell super “fresh” even after washing them.

To my surprise, I haven’t noticed that with this hoodie. After laundry day, there doesn’t seem to be any funky or unpleasant smells trapped in the fibers. As a hoarder of a variety of hoodies, I have more issues with my natural fiber hoodies smelling like wet farm animals.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you won’t experience odor issues with your Highlander fleece hoodie (we all stink differently). But so far, I haven’t run into problems with synthetic stink in my Burgeon Highlander Hoodie.

Room for Improvement

Burgeon Highlander Synthetic Fleece Hoodie
(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

While this fleece hoodie packs a punch, the sizing isn’t perfect. After reading some reviews and talking to fellow hikers, the consensus is that Burgeon’s sizing runs small on this hoodie. So, sizing up is recommended.

As mentioned, I bought a men’s large to avoid any fitting issues common with women’s clothing (especially if you have big shoulders). But it’s still a little roomy for me. I wish the brand was more straightforward with its sizing and fitting specs.

While the high wear and tear areas are holding up better than expected, I have begun to see some of the stitching around the kangaroo pocket is beginning to show some signs of abuse. While it is spacious, the microgrid fleece stretches when you have items in it, making it awkward to use with anything heavy. As someone who likes to stash all of their junk in their hoodie pocket, I am a little concerned to find the stitching beginning to falter.

Rather than a kangaroo pocket, I would rather see two side zip pockets, as I imagine that they would not compromise the integrity and structure of the garment while providing the same function and ease of access to stored items.

Burgeon: A Brand That Stands Behind Its Ethics

(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

The unexpected (and comforting) part of buying this fleece hoodie was the strong mission and ethics of Burgeon. Burgeon is located outside of the White Mountains in New Hampshire and is committed to protecting beloved outdoor spaces, supporting its staff, and giving back to its community.

Just a few examples of this: Burgeon’s garments are made in New Hampshire, where they pay their staff above industry standard and provide comprehensive benefits. Burgeon also uses sustainable materials when possible, and 5% of each sale goes to the community and environmental efforts.

Burgeon Highlander Synthetic Fleece Hoodie: Conclusion

By the end of my time on the AT, I was surprised at how well the Burgeon Highlander Hoodie had resisted stinking, unlike my natural fiber hoodie. It also held up well, kept me warm when I needed it to, and it was breathable enough that I never overheated in it.

On top of all that, it’s a stylish piece of gear. It looks good on the trail and I have no reservations about wearing it into town, either.

After 500 miles and more in the hoodie, it’s held up well and made an impression on me. For such a simple piece of gear, this hoodie has quickly become one of my favorites. Anyone looking for a solid fleece midlayer should check out the Burgeon Highlander Hoodie.

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