I’ve become a bit of a rabid apologist for Loki USA since acquiring three pieces of kit from them. This winter I picked up a Shadow Shirt UPF sun hoodie, a Kenai 800-fill down parka, and the All-in-One Tech Hoodie. I’ve been very impressed with all of them, but the Tech Hoodie is what stands out the most for three reasons.
First and foremost, it has integrated mitts built into the cuffs. At first I thought this was a hokey idea, but they soon won me over. No more forgetting gloves or dropping them. There’s no exposed skin on your wrist when you lift your arms above your head. Exposing a finger to work a smartphone is quick and easy. The interior of the mitt is a a comfortable fleece that’s thin enough to manipulate carabiners, yet warm enough to keep my hands happy in ten degrees. There’s a rubber palm guard sewn into the cuff to protect the fabric when you’re belaying. Loki makes the sleeves a bit on the long side in order to facilitate the convertible cuff, but that hasn’t bothered me yet. The only problem I’ve run into with them is that the tips can freeze shut, making it difficult to pop a hand out.
Second, the hood has a built-in face mask. It’s generously sized and covers from just under my eyes down to below my chin. The mask can be worn just under the nose for more breathability, or just over the neck. For those poor unfortunate souls who lack beards, this is a key piece. Bonus points for looking like a ninja as well.
Finally, the Tech Hoodie packs into its own pocket. Yeah, sure, everyone and their grandma has a jacket that can do that. But Loki had the foresight to attach a couple thin straps to the ensuing package, allowing the hoodie to be worn as a backpack. There’s even a mesh pocket with a cinch cord for carrying your Bluetooth speaker so you can blast German mumble rap as you’re climbing a thousand feet of bolted limestone in EPC. The stuffed jacket makes for a great pillow, as I found out while taking a heatstroke-induced recovery nap amidst the twenty-three rappels on Timewave Zero. The packing process is quite easy, as Loki apparently realizes that no one wants to take five minutes to cram their jacket into the smallest possible stuff sack. There’s room enough to fit a few cans (of LaCroix) in there as well.
Other nice features include cinch cords with toggles to tighten up the hood (which is over-helmet compatible, a must for me) and burly construction. I have no doubt that this piece of kit will survive the merciless thrashing to which I subject all of my gear. It’s not the lightest midweight layer out there but it has quickly become my favorite.
Thus far, I’ve worn the Tech Hoodie on three trips to the Black Canyon in winter. Each involved skiing four miles, rapping a thousand feet, and then jugging and climbing. Temps hit five degrees at the lowest and I definitely was rocking the hood, face mask and mitts. I’ve also worn it every single day in El Potrero Chico and carried it up most routes.
One time I was particularly glad to have it was on Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a route that bakes in the sun all day. Since it’s stacked with fun 5.10 pitches, it gets overrun by hordes of inefficient gumbellinae. We made the mistake of climbing it on a Saturday and shared the route with way too many other parties, which necessitated waiting for hours at the belays to allow rappelling parties to descend through. After topping out at sunset, we did all eight raps in the dark. I normally wouldn’t have brought an extra layer, but I wanted to try out the backpack feature of the Tech Hoodie, so I slung it over my shoulder and quickly forgot about it … until darkness fell and the temps along with it. I was quite cozy for the rest of the descent.
Loki gear is designed by climbers and mountain bikers in Grand Junction, Colorado, so you get the additional warm and fuzzy feeling of supporting a local cottage shop. I’ll be back soon to pick up their Mountain Hoodie Extreme, a beefier monkey-fleeced version of the Tech.