When people think California, they think of eternal sunshine, surfing, and golden tans. What most people forget is San Francisco doesn’t really play that way. Cue the Give’r Silkweight All Sport, designed to keep you cool when it’s warm out and warm when it’s cool.
If you’ve been following along on Little Grunts, you know how much I absolutely adore anything merino wool. I mean anything that keeps me lazy and stink free (and also helps to conserve water) is fantastic in my book. When Woolx sent me their new lightweight Base Camp Hoodie, I immediately fell in love.
When you combine modern, technical alpine apparel and American manufacturing, you get NW Alpine. A simple, yet highly functional brand engineered in the United States was what Bill Amos envisioned in 2010.
After drooling over the women’s line for months, I was able to test out the NW Alpine Women’s Black Spider Hoody in Charcoal. If you’re curious, the charcoal is actually more grey than the photos on the website suggest. The Black Spider Hoody is a technical, half-zip baselayer made out of Polartec Powerdry.
If you’re counting ounces on your next adventure, this won’t weigh you down; it’s only 10 oz. The Polartec Powerdry material is incredibly lightweight and quick drying. It was dry before I even pulled it out of the washing machine to hang. However, one of the biggest downsides to using a synthetic material is the scent. It’s got a slightly strange, plastic-y odor, even after several washings. It’s not overwhelming or even that noticeable, but when you start to smell, this thing really smells.
The Black Spider Hoody is form fitting with long sleeves and a long torso. No issues with layers riding or bulking up under harnesses here. And no issues with the sleeves stretching out over time. The sleeves come equipped with thumbholes for people like me who like sleeves over their hands at all times.
The baselayer also comes with a little chest zip pocket, but I haven’t found much use for that. It’s too small to fit anything of significance, and it’s too form fitting to have it look right with something in there.
Other cons? Biggest one is the hood. The Black Spider Hoody is designed with a balaclava hood, which is totally cool when it is zipped up all the way. However, something went a little awry in the part where the hood meets the shoulders. Unless you have the trapezius muscle of Hercules, you’re stuck with pockets of airspace and loose fabric on either sides of your neck. It doesn’t lay flush with your shoulders. This isn’t a big deal if you’re wearing more layers on top or if it’s zipped all the way up, but when those layers are shed, your neck gets pretty girth-y.
All in all, this is not bad for the price. It’s functional, simple, lightweight and warm. It has all of the features that I need, and can be easily taken from trail to town. I don’t find myself in situations where I need to wear it alone with the hood up, so the weird seams there are not a deal breaker. It might be if you need every single piece of the garment to be functional, though.
This was sent to me for review.
I picked up one of the last Triple Aught Design Ares Half-Zips left in existence at the Dogpatch Warehouse Sale last weekend. For 2014, they are taking the Ares and combining it with the Merino Half-Zip and making it 10 times better.
The Ares is a 270-weight half-zip made out of 100% merino wool making it a great midlayer for winter or an outer layer on a cool spring or summer day. It comes with two shoulder zip pockets, and thumb holes.
I haven’t had it for very long, but I’m pretty in love with it already. Took it for a lovely jaunt in the San Jose hills (Almaden Quicksilver County Park, to be exact) on a brisk fall day and it kept me toasty. This doesn’t fare too well with wind, but toss on a shell and you are golden. It’s also a great layer for climbing. It fits well under a harness and keeps you warm while you’re on the wall and making moves.
Pictured above is the Ares in a men’s XS. On me, it’s fairly roomier fit but it still gets the job done. I suspect the boyfriend might be stealing this from my closet in the future (for once).
This is no longer on the Triple Aught Design website, but you might be able to find it on eBay.