The Appalachian Gear Company’s All-Paca Fleece Hoodie is a lightweight, supple hoodie, warm but highly breathable, and versatile across climates—equally great for a damp spring climbing day or a cool summer evening.
Very light (Men’s varies 10 – 14 ounces depending on size) // Flexible fabric // temperature regulating, so it’s equally awesome for the eccentric temperatures of a mountain state summer and a steadily cold and damp New England spring // Long enough to tuck into a harness // Sheds odors // Retains heat when wet // Machine washable // Made from 100% responsibly sourced alpaca wool // Manufactured in the United States
Runs big, which can be a con if you don’t expect it // Does shrink a little after first dry, but this can help counteract the large size // At $153 it’s not cheap, but what does “cheap” even mean in these days of inflation and woe?
Oh man, this is a comfortable garment—so comfortable, in fact, that when I visited my parents a few weeks ago, my mother went so far as to steal mine and wear it as a dress (with a belt) for two days until I convinced her (“No, really! Mom! Please!”) that I couldn’t part with my All-Paca Hoodie until I’d at least written this review, at which point she sullenly gave it back and bought one for herself, in the proper size. But comfort isn’t the only attraction: it’s warm and breathable, light and flexible, and (my fiancée’s favorite feature) it doesn’t retain body odors.
Appalachian Gear Company
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How is it for climbing?
It’s great. I’ve climbed with it for nearly two months now, on boulders and routes in both New Mexico and Vermont. It’s long enough to tuck into your harness but stretchy enough not to feel restrictive because it’s tucked into your harness. When you sweat in it, the fibers wick the sweat from your body so you don’t get cold once you stop climbing or finish the approach. It does get a bit chalky; but it seems to slough the chalk off after a few hours rather than stiffen and shrivel (the tactic embraced by my own hair). Lastly, the All-Paca is adept at keeping you comfortable through the wildly shifting temperatures of New Mexico’s fiery (alas) climate.
Want to know how it does in colder snowier conditions? Check out this review by our sibling, Backpacker Magazine, where it won the Editor’s Choice for Snow in 2019.
One thing to note about the All-Paca is that they run large. I’m a relatively little dude, but I’ve got a barrel chest, so I often size right on the nebulous cusp between a small and a medium. With the All-Paca, the medium was pretty huge on me—especially in its length. This changed a bit, however, once I wore it for a few weeks and let the fibers fit to my body. After that, I washed and dried it, and the All-Paca shrank just enough to feel more or less perfect—albeit on the baggy side of that term. I’ll go with a small one next time.
My mother, meanwhile, is 5 foot 3 inches: she bought herself a small and says that it “fits me perfectly.” (She loves hers: “it’s cool when it’s warm and warm when it’s cold.” Her one con: she found it a little itchy at first, but got used to it quickly. “I love it. I wear it all the time,” she says.)
You don’t have to wash it much!
The material doesn’t retain odor (source: my grateful fiancée) and apparently doesn’t support bacterial growth, though since I know nothing about science, I have no idea how to measure whether this is true. The point is: the All-Paca doesn’t need much washing and is therefore great for people who hate washing their clothes. This fact alone differentiates the All-Paca in a crowded field of outdoor midlayers, most of which seem specially designed to capture and retain body odor.
But it can be washed… and dried!
You can wash your All-Paca in a washing machine and dry it in a drier. Alternatively, because it’s animal fiber, it can be cleaned in your van’s sink or your Airbnb’s shower with a bit of shampoo. (Detailed care options and specs here.)
Didn’t it shrink in the drier like wool?
Yes, but only marginally—and, since mine came a bit too large, I actually found myself liking the All-Paca more after I’d dried it the first time. (It didn’t change after that first exposure to the drier.)
In addition to owning an All-Paca hoodie; I also own (or am owned by, it’s unclear) a small dog with short white hair. Over time, great hordes of this dog’s short white hairs have gathered in and among the All-Paca’s fibers—which lends it a slightly dirty, shaggy look. This is one reason why it’s awesome that the All-Paca can be dried by a washing machine with a lint trap: most, but not all, of the hairs disappear after such treatment.
At $153 the All-Paca is expensive—but not that expensive given (a) the cost of outdoor gear more generally, (b) the fact that you’re buying an insanely high-quality product, and (c) you’re supporting a small company that’s working hard to do right by its employees, customers, and the world. The hoodies are made in the United States, in limited runs. The fiber is responsibly sourced from a yarn producer in Peru.