Tammy EstenTammy is a backcountry snowboarder who lives in Morzine and is the founder of Mint Snowboarding.
The Hudson Trail Fleece Poncho from Smartwool is a very warm and comfortable layer that has a unique look, but better suited to more casual than as a technical layer for more demanding outdoor activities.
Kangaroo pocket and hood, 45% recycled wool
Soft to the touch
Kangaroo pocket and hood for extra warmth and style
Fit is quite big and baggy for me
There are more technical options available
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
Everyone needs a comfortable go-to option, and sometimes I want to wear something that offers the warmth and comfort of an old uninspired fleece, but looks good and fresh at the same time.
I spend a lot of time out on the mountains and while I definitely rely on really technical, cutting-edge functional designs, I don’t always need that. Often it’s nice to wear something a bit more casual but that still offers enough functionality.
On first sight, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Smartwool Hudson Poncho. It looked good, that was unquestionable. But is it a fashion layer? Is it a practical layer? How will it fit? How is it meant to be worn?
Upon trying it on, it was clearly a very comfortable option and very warm too. Definitely a great casual layer for those cold days when you want to be cosy and warm. But I wasn’t sure how it would work as a technical layer.
This poncho offers a replacement as your standard fleece layer, offering a more fashionable style whilst remaining practical for casual sporting activities. It certainly has the potential to become a wardrobe favourite that I’d automatically reach for on those cold days. A layer that is both suited to sitting around a fire with a hot chocolate as well as being versatile enough to be used when layering up for outdoor activities.
To be fair, the fleece is aimed more at the casual end of outdoor gear than the technical, but I wanted to see how it faired for a day on the mountain.
From where I live in Morzine, I took the Hudson Poncho for a spin during a morning spent split-boarding with a couple of friends. Not a particularly big or challenging day – I don’t think that would be a fair test for this. But a fairly casual morning on the mountain, putting in some fun turns on the descent.
Who is This Item For?
This is one of those garments that is great to always have around. It’s a good call for a range of purposes and activities.
It could be the cosy jumper you throw on first thing in the morning or the warm layer that you reach for at the end of a day’s activity. It is also suited as a warm layer on light activities.
It will keep you warm and looking good at the same time too, but it’s not something I’d pick for a really long and challenging day out on the mountain, the fit and design is way too causal for that.
One of those garments that is great to always have around
What Stands Out
The extra room means lots of comfort. In my eyes it also makes it less practical for adding extra layers on top.
The long length means that it is likely to hang below the bottom of a jacket which is all very well for casual wearing, but not so good when you are wanting a practical designed layer for use in outdoor activities, particularly in snowy conditions in the mountains.
Worth mentioning though that the Hudson is available in a shorter version which may better suit some people.
The cuffs are perfectly taken in with thin elastic, so that the sleeves do not hang down over your hands, which is great considering the oversized design.
It is noticeably thick and warm as well as not being at all itchy. The hood and kangaroo pocket are a great touch providing that really cosy feel.
The fairisle print is a really nice change from a plain design, helping make it a functional fashionable layer. That along with the kangaroo pocket, hood and front zip together make for a unique style.
A step in the right direction in sustainable clothing.
VALUE FOR MONEY
It comes with a pretty high price tag that you would expect of a woollen layer of high quality. I admit maybe that might put me off, but then it is a layer that will last indefinitely if looked after properly.
I am happy to spend decent money of something of quality that is likely become a wardrobe favourite and an item like this is likely to get regular use for years to come.
BASE BOTTOM LINE
My initial concerns about what this fleece / jumper / poncho should be used for have disappeared after having worn it in various situations over a few days.
The answer is that, for me, it doesn’t have a specific use, but is just a great looking, cosy warm wardrobe favourite for a cold winter day. It’s a great quality casual layer that can also be used for outdoor activities, but probably not as much of a technical layer. Depending on how baggy you like it, you might want to purchase a size smaller than you would normally wear.
I would definitely recommend it to someone wanting a great looking, multi-use warm layer and it’s recycled wool composition gives it bonus points for sustainability.
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