When Outdoor Research (OR) asked me to be part of the #ORInsightLab crew again, I of course said yes. It’s really darn cool when a big company like OR wants a normal gal like me to test their gear! Even though I have the chance to test gear on a regular basis, I still feel like a kid on Christmas day, when products arrive at my door. I immediately want to throw the gear on and go, everywhere, so I can to see how it performs.
Of the five products I received from OR, the Echo Hoody has been one of my favorites, because it’s so versatile. I’ve used it for basic stuff like chilly days in the office, protecting my skin when I’m outside gardening, and for bigger adventures like: running, fishing, camping, climbing, and hiking.
This past week, I brought the Echo Hoody on one of my biggest adventures yet, to the Tetons. I spent two days pushing my body both mentally and psychically, and for those two days I wore the Echo Hoody. Pushing myself in the Tetons is reserved for its own blog post, coming soon. The point is, when pushing limits in the outdoors you can not afford to wear crappy gear. My tiny adventures made me trust the Echo Hoody, and by the time I took it on this big adventure, I knew it was a solid piece of gear.
Before digging into the Echo Hoody’s performance, it’s worth looking at the features:
- Wicking, quick drying material
- Sun protection: UPF 15+
- Small hip pocket
- A hood with a ponytail hole
- Polygiene to reduce odor
- Foldover hand warmer cuffs
The features are impressive for something that only weighs in at 4.5 oz. My absolute favorite little feature is the foldover hand warmer cuffs. If I could include these on every long sleeve shirt/jacket I own, I would. I bet wiping out with your hands in your shirt is not recommended, so I used them only while sitting around camp, waiting to climb, and on paved runs. Because I find myself with cold hands all the time, I preferred the foldover cuffs to typical thumb holes.
The ponytail hole in the hood is a pretty great idea too; but I haven’t had a reason to take advantage of it, yet. The hood itself is loose and does not tighten down, so even with your ponytail in the hole, the hood easily blows off, if not held on by a helmet or hat.
What I love most about this hoody is also my biggest complaint — the material. The hoody is so light and fast drying. Thanks to how small it is, it easily fits in the side pocket of my backpack or stuffs down in the pack, without adding much weight. While climbing a steep snow field on a warm day, I really appreciated the UPF protection and fast wicking material. It helped protect my skin from the harsh sun, and never got too wet, despite how sweaty I was. The Echo Hoody fits my body shape really well. It has a flattering fit, while still loose enough to layer under. It feels silky and comfortable on my skin, and it’s long enough that it doesn’t rid up my waist when I’m climbing—Yay!
The material is great, but it does have a few drawbacks. When I first wore the hoody I kept snagging the light material on my fingernails and got concerned that it might not be too durable. However, while rock climbing and scrambling, it has held up just fine. Go figure, right? I’m okay with a few silly snags, because that’s probably more of a sign that my fingernails need some love rather than how tough the material is. My biggest issue with the Echo Hoody is how stinky the material gets. Whether I’m on a run or wearing it nonstop for two days of sweaty climbing in the Tetons, it can become one very bad-smelling polyester top, very fast. The Polygiene doesn’t seem to be the solution to preventing stink. So far, it has not become permanently stinky, and after washing it with a little vinegar, it’s as good as new. (One a side note: If you haven’t tried washing your stinky synthetic tech gear in vinegar go do it, right now!)
Despite some stink, I really love this hoody and will continue to wear it. Synthetic materials are known to get a little stinky, yet people keep using it, because it works. When playing outside, what’s really important is how well a product performs. After all, if you’re working hard, or playing in the mountains for a couple days, everything is bound to get a little smelly, anyway. The Echo Hoody didn’t miss a beat when I needed it most, and that makes it one of my favorite technical pieces.
And, don’t worry, I’ll take it off before I share a tent with you.