Field Tested: Voormi’s Treeline Hoodie
It is, quite simply, the best bouldering hoodie I've yet worn.
Made of Voormi’s trademark Surface Hardened Thermal Wool and finished with its “Durable Water Repellent Finish,” the Treeline Hoodie is a lightweight, warm, and highly durable sweatshirt whose raglan sleeve pattern and flexible material make it nicely suited for chilly days at the crag or boulders.
The Surface Hardened™ wool is warm, comfortable, and highly durable. // The raglan sleeve style allows you to articulate your shoulder with minimal resistance. // The cowl-like “three-panel” hood is well-sized, capable of protecting the face in the wind and easy to fit over a winter hat. // It’s machine washable and dryable (though heat isn’t recommended). // The “Durable Water Repellent Finish” actually works pretty well
The exposed stitching around the wrist cuffs and shoulders can snag (and tear) on branches or sharp volcanic rocks. // It shrinks modestly when thrown in the dryer on warm. // The muted color-scheme seems primarily marketed toward hunters and fishermen—so if you’re looking for a bright, Instagram-ready garment, consider looking elsewhere. // It’s expensive.
A dang solid all-around sweatshirt—warm, light, durable, and equally well-suited for bouldering outside, hanging out at the brewery, or splitting wood like the carefully bearded men in Voormi’s ads.
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What’s one way to gauge whether you absolutely love a garment? You wear it constantly for several months straight.
That’s been my experience with Voormi’s Treeline Hoodie, which I wore more or less constantly as a midlayer on my rock excursions this winter—generally over the base layer and, when necessary, under the down jacket. It’s made with Voormi’s trademark Surface Hardened Thermal Wool—essentially a layer of 21.5-micron merino wool whose exterior has been “hardened” by an outer layer of nylon fibers and then coated with a water-repellent finish. The result: the exterior feels rough and tough (though certainly not stiff) while the interior is soft and pliable, comfy on bare skin and low friction against base layers.
Why it’s great for climbing
As sweatshirts go, the Treeline Hoodie feels light and non-restrictive—none of that spongy bulk of your standard-issue sweatshirt—yet the thin merino wool is still very warm. But for me, it’s a standout climbing hoodie for two reasons:
- The shoulder stitching. The Treeline’s shoulders are made with what’s called (per Wikipedia) a “raglan sleeve.” Basically, the stitching that holds the sleeves to the body of the sweatshirt runs diagonally from the armpit to the collarbone rather than (as in your classic “set-in” sleeve) in a tubular pattern around the shoulder girdle. Raglan sleeves are great for two reasons: first, they provide more room inside the shoulders, which means there’s space for other layers underneath; and, secondly, they minimize that restrictive, I’m-wearing-a-poorly-designed-midlayer feeling you get when moving your arms above your head—something that, as a climber, you probably do all the time. (A lot of baseball T-shirts, unsurprisingly, also employ the raglan sleeve pattern.)
- The flexible fabric: The Surface Hardened™ Thermal Wool stretches quite a bit, which allows you to articulate your arms and body without feeling restricted by the fabric itself.
The New Mexico desert is a tough, prickly place, and with its help I tend to quickly ruin most of the long-sleeved (or legged) things I climb in. But the Treeline Hoodie mostly withstood my best efforts. I beached-whaled at the top of sharp tuff boulders. I barreled through stands of juniper and cholla. I even started climbing with it in the gym, hoping that sheer volume would wear the fabric down. But I’ve still never managed to properly tear the thing. Indeed, the only weak points I’ve been able to identify are in the exposed stitching on the wrist cuffs and around the shoulders. In both places, I’ve managed to slightly loosen or break stitches, but at least so far, these stitch failings have not yet unraveled into anything even remotely catastrophic.
The Treeline Hoodie is coated with a “durable water repellent finish.” I wanted to test its repellent capacity, but since I live in a sandy desert, water repellence isn’t really something I can just accidentally “test.”. So I decided to instead run a few simulations.
Simulation 1: Wearing the Treeline, I poured an 8-ounce glass of water onto my sleeve and was astonished to find that all the water either beaded on the sleeve or just ran straight off it. I then actively massaged the beaded remnants of this into my sleeve, managing to make it feel a little damp inside. Not wet, per say, but not wholly dry.
My experiment, of course, didn’t seem like much of a simulation: A glass of water is hardly an alpine downpour or one of those eight-day-rains that blessed the New England of my youth. So I decided on a second and more drastic simulation.
Simulation 2: I turned on a timer and, hiding under that beloved hoodie (see below), stepped into the shower. The result?
I got wet.
It took about 8 seconds for my hair to start getting damp—less for the water to start pouring through the raglan stitching. Dully noted: –repellent does not mean –proof. And in all fairness, I’m not sure the flowrate of my shower, but it’s not insignificant—it’d be a hell of a rainstorm.
Then I threw it in the dryer…
On its website, Voormi specifically notes that “While all our fabrics are specifically designed for machine care, we recommend protecting your investment through minimally damaging processes”—e.g., using a cold wash followed by a hang dry. But knowing that at least some percentage of its user base is all too likely to (a) wreak chalky havoc on their product and therefore require frequent cleaning, and (b) constantly fail to remember to wash and dry said product in the best possible fashion, Voormi adds that “in a pinch… it’s perfectly OK to throw it in the dryer.”
So I did. Then did it again. And again. And again. (Though always on low.)
And the dryer very certainly shrunk the Treeline down by an unscientifically measured quarter-size. Luckily for me, the medium size was actually slightly too large for me at first. (As a reformed Brooklyn hipster, I wish I could pull off the fashionably baggy hoodies sported by the hard-climbing youths in my local gym—but my recovery hasn’t progressed quite so far yet.) So I actually ended up liking my Treeline more after I dried it, not less. That said, if you’re at the top-end of a size and can’t abide shrinkage, I’d recommend either sizing up or air-drying it.
The Treeline comes in “relaxed fit” cuts only. This means that it’s on the baggy side (as far as technical clothes go) and isn’t particularly well-suited for a many-layered day. It fits well, for instance, under my Outdoor Research Superstrand LT Hoodie (size medium) but feels a bit too big under my Patagonia Down Sweater (sized small).
It’s also not particularly long in the body, which makes it less suitable for wearing under a harness if you’ve got a really long torso. My torso, however, is the definition of short, so it fit with room to spare under my harness.
Two other things I really liked:
- The hood: I like a proper cowl for a hood, something that will really flank the face and—more practically—easily work around bulky winter hats.
- The kangaroo pouch: No major comments here (nice size, nice shape), but I like that it exists. It’s nice to have a place to hide your hands between burns.
As the name might suggest, the Treeline Hoodie wasn’t meant to be an alpine mid-layer (though I’m sure it could be effectively deployed in that setting). In the end, it’s a day-wear sweatshirt, one that (based on reviews on Voormi’s website) is beloved by fishing guides and hunters and skiers and (or so I imagine) hardy folk working hardscrabble jobs in the snow. Luckily, it’s also an excellent performer on the cold, dry rocks of northern New Mexico in winter.