Beards are pretty awesome. Buffs are pretty awesome. While both beards and buffs are impressively abled, beards suck at keeping the sun off your neck. Buffs are great at that, almost as if they were built specifically for that sole purpose. However the relationship between beard hairs and a buff is remarkably similar to that of a cactus and a croker sack. It doesn’t work. Side note, my favorite buff is an old school Skinny Water Culture “Stalker Mask”.
I learned last summer (with half the beard I currently sport) that they don’t play well with “buff” style neck gaiters either. Whenever you need to adjust them, they pull your facial hair. To top it all off, Kirk Werner doesn’t care for them. That settles it, the fly fishing ascot has to go.
For sun protection on the rest of my socially-acceptably exposed skin, I utilize Nike’s Pro Combat shirts under regular t-shirts (I can’t imagine you really care). I like being able to cover my skin to the sun, but still wear a cool t-shirt and regular shorts. I refuse to wear sunscreen; it smells like cancer and feels like congealed pork fat.
When cool weather shows up, wise men switch to layers. My favorite part is the outer layer; usually a hoodie. They are comfortable, zipperless, and they’re usually adorned with something deep and meaningful like “The Fiberglass Manifesto” or “Florida Gators, SEC Champions”. I cannot fully express how much I love hoodies. I would wear them all year long if I could. That is when I had the idea of wearing a summer hoodie. A summer hoodie, if done right would be great. It would keep the sun off my neck, allowing my beard to roam free. It would feature the same pullover comfort, but with much less bulk. I knew it had to exist. I think I’m fairly smart, fairly original, and a creative person; but if I already thought of it, then I’m pretty sure someone else beat me to it.
I was on the hunt. I started my search late in the season last year, when most of the retail stores were already stocking up for “Winter” in Texas. I found several promising candidates, but with their flattering cuts and hard-to-pronounce colors; they were directed at women. They showed promise though, surely if someone decided to market them towards women, then it stands to reason that a more rectangular version with a monosyllabic color scheme was floating around the universe. Please be warned. Pickings are kinda of slim in that market, and no one is throwing free stuff at OBIF. There may be more versions out there, but this review is going to focus on the two that I found and purchased. I used both hoodies for everything I could think of. I recently started to work out, so I was able to poorly test them in that environment. I wore them fishing. I wore them to work. I wore them to visit a palace. Yeah, you read that right. A palace.
“Taking a Palace tour”
First up is Nike. The Nike Dri-Fit Touch hoodie is the first one I purchased. It is very thin, super-soft, and about thirty bucks. According to their website,
“This high-performance, microfiber, polyester fabric wicks sweat away from the body and moves it to the fabric surface, where it evaporates. As a result, Dri-FIT fabric helps you stay dry and comfortable.”
Basically, this hoodie feels chinchilla-microfiber-cashmere-silken-charmin ultra soft. The things I like about it are as follows. This is a no-frills hoodie, designed for working out. It doesn’t have much weight to it, but after using it extensively it holds up very well. I also like the fact that the logo is very small and almost invisible in the darker versions. The hood is light and loose; not oppressive at all. Often while I am running, I have to check to see if it is still up.
This is also sort of a downside to it as well. It has no drawstring to secure the hood with. I don’t mind the lack of string as a whole, as I make a habit of removing them as soon as I can. However, with really windy days a hallmark of a Texas spring, the hood doesn’t like to stay up. Another downside is the lack of anything else. There is no extra design to this hoodie. With no pockets or color variations in the fabric; there is nothing to break-up the simplicity of the garment. Lastly, this line of outerwear comes in mostly high visibility colors. Due to obvious oversight, it is clear this product is aimed at working out and oddly was not designed for fishing. Clearly someone at Nike dropped the ball.
The next offering is from redneck-mecca Cabela’s. The Cabela’s Guidewear® UPF Knit Hoodie (according to Cabela’s writers) is
“Lightweight, breathable fabric ideal for warm-weather, all-day fishing. Our Guidewear hoodie keeps you dry and comfortable for a more enjoyable day on the water. UPF rating of 50 protects you from the sun’s harmful rays. 100% polyester Jacquard moisture-wicking fabric keeps you dry”
It has pockets, dries quickly, and is designed for fishing. This one will set you back about forty bucks. The knit fabric is a little heavier than its counterpart. I could really feel the difference when I was running in it.
“Feeling the difference.”
As similar as these products are, they are polar opposites in a lot of ways. Where the Nike hoodie was very minimalist, the Cabela’s hoodie is loaded with features. The logo on this hoodie is big and reflective, the zippered breast pocket runs all the way to the armpit. The neck has two buttons that help keep the hood tight when up. The hood can also be tightened to keep it up on windy days. The drawstrings are anchored so the don’t hang down all the time, and stay in during a round in a washing machine.The sleeves feature thumb holes that allow you to have a more awkward tanline, or perform as an extra in the 90’s ‘My So Called Life’…
This hoodie isn’t as durable as the Nike version, as I already have four or five little pulled threads popped up that look like little snails trekking across my stomach. The fabric is a little heavier and warmer than I would like, but not enough to make a noticeable difference while only fishing. There is a a lot of thread on it too, and I had to burn off several Irish Pennants because of that fact. I really don’t like how big the logo is on the breast pocket either.
Over all, I like them both. The colors are more natural on the Cabela’s version, but they have names like “light pesto” and “lakeshore sand”. For comfort, I would have to say the Nike Hoodie wins out by a long shot. It’s shamefully soft and virtually weightless. The Nike hoodie’s downfalls are the hood, the lack of features, and the colors. For that reason, the Cabela’s hoodie will nudge out the Nike when I am headed to fish. Most importantly, both of these hoodies catch fish.
Close up on the thumbholes
Smithfly gear, close up.
All photos by Courtney New. Editing by OneBugIsFake
Thanks for reading!