Loki Gear is an innovative technical outerwear company from Grand Junction, CO. This winter I picked up their Shadow Shirt UPF sun hoodie, a Kenai 800-fill down parka, and an All-in-One Tech Hoodie. I’ve been 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 gimmicky 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 or thumb to work a smartphone is quick and easy, as well.
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 — I love this be ause I can’t stand fiddling with gloves at every station. The only issues I’ve run into with them is that the tips can freeze shut, making it difficult to pop a hand out, and that the sleeves are a bit on the long side because of the mitts. (They pull up and stay up easily, though).
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 as a neck gaiter with or without the hood. For those poor unfortunate souls who lack beards, this is a key piece. Bonus points for looking like a proper ninja as well.
Finally, the Tech Hoodie packs into its own pocket. A common feature, except 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 quick-access items.
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 quick and easy, as Loki apparently realizes that no one wants to take five minutes to cram their jacket into the smallest possible stuff sack. Remember, spending an extra ninety seconds at each belay on a long route can make the difference between clearing a weather window and walking off in the rain.
There’s even room in the main zipper to fit a few summit libations as well. I am fond of sticking a Nalgene and a couple almond Snickers in the zippered pocket in backpack mode, and then stuffing my Croc-Offs in the cinch pocket.
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’ve worn the hoodie up many chimneys and offwidths and it’s holding up well. While it may not be the lightest midweight layer out there, it has quickly become my favorite.
In addition to extensive use in Mexico, Utah and Arizona, 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 was happy to have the full use of the hood, face mask and mitts.
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. 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 as a baby gote for the rest of the descent.
Loki gear is designed by dirtbags for dirtbags in Grand Junction, so the quality construction is augmented by the warm and fuzzy feeling of supporting a local cottage shop. This Tech Hoodie has quickly become my go-to midlayer for climbing and hiking adventures — highly recommended.