There are few things as comforting as a well-worn hoodie. I’ve been wearing them all my life, but after being pitched some intriguing updates to the old standby, I thought it was time put a handful to the test. The following hoodies have been under scrutiny for ten months. I wore dozens of different styles to get here, ranging from highly technical soft shells to heavy-duty hemp pullovers, and ended up winnowing the candidates down to simple cotton or cotton-hybrid pieces. Why? Because although I had a 32-gallon plastic bin stuffed with dozens of hoodies, I gravitated toward these again and again. All fit effortlessly into my day-to-day life and worked for everything from runs to family walks.
I ran in each of these hoodies at least twice. One was an ambling stroller run that likely included park play and a doughnut-eating session with my three-year-old daughter. The other was an hourlong trail run in forty-degree temperatures, with around 1,000 feet of elevation gain. I also wore each of these through a workout circuit in my garage in which I performed burpees, push-ups, and kettlebell clean and presses.
Not only did I use the testing hoodies as my sweatshirts of choice for months, but I also performed more focused usability tests by wearing each piece for a full week straight and taking notes on its features.
I made notes on comfort details during my mobility and usability tests and also slept in each of these hoodies for at least one night, recording my thoughts about them afterward.
On top of nearly a year of wear, I also washed and dried each hoodie ten times and noted how well they held up.
The Winner: Tracksmith Trackhouse Sweatshirt ($98)
I may wear this hoodie more than any other piece of clothing. It’s simple and perfect. The fit is athletic without feeling restrictive, and the ribbed cuffs and waistline helped it move with my body rather than riding up during burpees, cleans, and kid tosses. From armpit to waistline, there’s a four-inch strip of ribbing that improved arm mobility, which made this the most comfortable hoodie for exercise. That detailing on the sides also added a low-key style hit that looked nice but wasn’t flashy. Thanks to small details, like a little stash pocket in the kangaroo pouch that fit my iPhone11 snugly, it was highly functional, especially for listening to podcasts while chasing my daughter around. Finally, the 80 percent cotton, 20 percent polyester weave was supple against my skin and after a few washes felt even more so. Plus, a year on, it shows zero signs of pilling or shrinking.
The Runner-Up: Patagonia P6 Label Uprisal Hoody ($79)
Patagonia must have used some type of alchemy to create the Uprisal Hoody. Ninety-five percent of its source materials are recycled (each hoodie uses almost 15 plastic bottles and nearly a pound of cotton scraps), which must have translated to some good karma, because this garment moved like a dream and was the most comfortable of the test. I spent days in it—falling asleep in it, waking and spending the day in it, and falling asleep in it again—without complaint, a result of its medium-light weight and incredibly supple feel. It also offered plenty of stretch, despite looking identical to the 100 percent cotton hoodies of my youth, and didn’t hinder my movement during my runs. The wrists barely pulled down on my arms during burpees, and it didn’t tighten on my back during push-ups. There was no pilling through the washes, and it didn’t lose shape over the long test period.
Best for Workouts: Prana Cardiff Full Zip Fleece ($99)
In hindsight, it feels a little unfair to put a hoodie made of more advanced materials into a cotton-hoodie test. But this blend—55 percent hemp, 25 percent recycled polyester, and 20 percent Tencel Lyocell—felt so much like downy brushed cotton that I didn’t know the truth until I looked at the tag months after I’d started wearing it. This hoodie dressed up handsomely with jeans or slacks, and felt like a running jacket, with its incredible stretch. It moved so well during both jogs and workout circuits that I found myself grabbing it for exercise on days when I was supposed to be testing other items. It was plenty comfortable on my skin, and the full zip made for nice temperature control. My only complaint is that the waistline pilled after a handful of washes.
Best Around Town: American Giant Classic Full Zip Hoodie ($118)
This completely American-made and -sourced hoodie is a beautiful piece of both clothing and engineering. Made of 100 percent cotton and designed with a ribbed waistline, side panels, and cuffs, it moved fluidly during exercise testing. The arms rode up less than two inches during burpees and kettlebell presses, and they never felt too restrictive during a run. While that ribbing helped with mobility, however, the lack of stretch in the fabric was notable on longer runs, as well as while doing push-ups. My wife liked this sweatshirt on me the best, though: “You look like a rich guy who works in tech—in a good way,” she said. The extra length at the hem was slimming, and the tailored cut made it look less casual. Two oversize pockets and an incredibly sturdy and smooth zipper gave it high marks in usability. It was very comfortable, especially after a few washes, and barely looked different on the exterior after tenth load. I feel like it could last ten more years.