The Arc’teryx Zoa Hoody is a lightweight, versatile, snug fitting pullover that crosses the bridge from a mid layer (on those colder crag days in the mountains) to an outer layer just for that added warmth in spring or fall season climbing. The stretchy breathable fleece and helmet capable hood makes it sound like the perfect inter season cragging companion…
Comfort & Fit
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Zoa Hoody is how soft it is, the outer soft brushed surface feels like a traditional soft-shell like material but a little thinner. The inside is a seriously soft fleece material which makes it blissful next to your skin… as snug as a bug in a rug comes to mind.
By being a slim fit, right down to the snug fitting ScubaHood™ (which is designed to fit under a helmet) the Zoa keeps in the warmth and the cold draft out. Despite it’s slim’ness, it is well cut so that it doesn’t give that squeezed into lycra look that some of the stretchy tight fitted jackets can, a really nice balance.
The Zoa is also quite long on the body (for 160cm/ 5”2’ female wearing size S/P) so fits brilliantly and remains comfortable under a harness even when in the most dynamic of sessions. The Kangaroo pockets are very subtle within the hoody design which is a great look. Although the pockets are relatively useless whilst climbing due to lying directly under your harness. They are quite nice to warm your hand up whilst encouraging a fellow climber up a route. Comfortable and technical, great!
Talking about the stretchiness I can honestly say it was a pleasure to climb in this hoody. The mobility was great and the jacket does not ride up…ever! At no point when climbing with the hoody did I feel any restriction or an unwanted draft probably due to the 16% elastane composition. I originally thought that the thumb loops on the cuffs would get in the way whilst climbing, but I just found myself just pulling my sleeves up my forearms immediately before I started to ascend.
I didn’t see this as much of a problem, but I guess it would be down to personal preference. Saying that when pulled up, the sleeves did stay in place and I didn’t feel any pressure on my forearms due to the stretch material and cut of the cuffs. The thumb loops are a nice gesture for the rest of the time when not climbing (belaying, travelling, hiking, fast packing etc). I personally love the hood configuration, as a rule I am not a fan of hoods on a jacket, especially one that claims to be used as a mid-layer, but this one works.
What I like about the cut of the hood is that its snug and elasticated lip keeps out a draft without feeling restrictive or digging in. Even for ladies like myself with long hair, which I find usually pulls the lip back from the forehead, this hood is deep enough to accommodate this. Its thin enough to slip under a helmet without feeling uncomfortable but perhaps not the most attractive hood appearing exactly as described – scuba like!
The Zoa hoody is easy to wash and generally washes well. If I was going to be really picky I guess the cuffs have a tendency to bobble slightly but after a significant amount of washes (see the photos). However the rest of the garment looks as good as new after each and every wash. It dries really quickly too which is great for those like me who can be rather on the lastminute.com side of things. I feel I have really put this hoody through its paces, it has stood the test of time through those deep forest deserted overgrown crag hikes and sliding at speed on all parts of my body down that rather technical alpine trail trying to beat the elements or before it gets dark!
Warmth & Breathability
The hoody is not waterproof but I have been caught out once or twice in scattered showers on the mountain and have not felt damp at all, that said, anything more than a slight shower though you will really need a shell as expected. Similarly, with wind resistance, it will stand up the a moderate breeze but anything more you will need to combine with a shell.
This is a great jacket in its own right, be that when climbing in the shade of a north face, or during dusk and dawn when its a tad chilly. It is also an excellent mid layer for those even colder adventures, whether thats Alpine, Ice or mixed climbing this jacket will seal in the warmth mainly due to its fit trapping the heat in close to your body.
The Arc’Teryx’s Torrent™ material is comprised of 84% polyester and 16% elastane claims to be moisture-wicking and breathable. If things do get hot and sweaty, (for me this is normally on the hike in) the Polygiene® finish also manages odour. I’m guessing this works, as I have worn this hoody all day and have not smelt bad… In my opinion… perhaps I should have got my climbing buddy to do an independent sniff test… thats perfectly normal right? The best and most immediate ventilation feature is the 1/2 front zip at the front which runs low enough to provide a breeze but not low enough to interfere with your harness and gear.
Lightweight,stretchy comfortable pullover with snug fitting ‘scuba’ like hood great as a mid layer in colder Alpine adventurers or as an outwear layer at a crag when it gets a little bit chilly. A perfect crag companion.