Sitka Arrowhead Midlayer Hoody - MDWi
The best active mid-layer I've used to date. From a company you've probably not heard of.
- breathes very well
- dries quickly
- insulates better than fleece for its weight
The Sitka Arrowhead MDWi (midweight insulated) hoody is an active insulating layer utilizing Polartec Direct fabric. Most folks outside of hunting have probably never heard of Sitka, let alone Sitka Arrowhead. Sitka Arrowhead is Sitka's military/law enforcement division. They don't sell direct, but they have several retailers where their products are available (you don't have to be military to purchase).
I purchased the MDWi hoody last fall and got to use it through hunting season (October/November) and have continued using it hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing. I probably have 500-ish miles on it by now. I like it, I like it a lot.
Active insulated layers are probably one of the toughest garments to get right. Polartec Direct is currently the hands-down winner in that department. It breathes well, dries quickly, and insulates nicely for its weight. Direct is a descendant of Polartec Alpha, but is superior imo as it eliminates the need for an interior fabric. It can even be used on its own without an outer fabric, but in that configuration the fabric is very fragile and offers no weather (wind/precip) resistance at all.
The MDWi utilizes a highly breathable, 30d nylon ripstop that offers some (but not a lot) weather resistance and lessens the worry of tearing/ripping the Direct fabric. It's not uber lightweight at 12.5 oz (size Large), but not too shabby for what it does.
Polartec Direct insulation comes in several weights. This garment utilizes 90 g/m, which I've found to be pretty close to ideal.
The hoody is a full zip with two zipped handwarmer pockets and a zipped Napoleon pocket on the chest. The outer fabric has smooth hand is quiet—a requisite for a hunting garment (or one used by the military). It's offered in several muted colors.
The fit is nearly perfect for me. Slightly athletic fit, but not overly. The hood is not adjustable, but fits very nicely.
There is no perfect active layer and likely will never be. I try to practice good technique on the trail (or off) dressing lightly, venting, and even occasionally slowing down to reduce sweating. But it's impossible to fully avoid it. I've overwhelmed the MDWi hoody a few times on steep uphills or with a heavy pack (or both!), but it does dry quickly—quicker than fleece.
I've worn the MDWi hoody in temperatures from about 0 to 40°F above. If it's windy, you'll want to add a windshirt. If it's raining you'll definitely want to add a hardshell. The garment is designed to breathe, so keeping weather out is not its forte. Providing insulation while on the move is its forte and this garment does it better than any of the other active layers I've tried to date.
If you're in the market for an active insulating piece for shoulder season and winter, look into this one.
I've used this on numerous day hikes and multi-day trips. I've got over 500 miles utilizing this garment.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $260
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Reviewers Paid: $260.00
13.0 oz (large)
Polartec Alpha Direct Breathable Insulation / Brookwood AEROLITE H600 30d Nylon Ripstop with DWR