Years ago, I had a zipper hoodie that had a waffle knit thermal lining. You know, those little squares you see on long underwear? I wore it until I wore holes in the elbows.
These last couple of winters, I’ve had something even better: a zipper hoodie with a sherpa, sometimes called sherpa fleece, lining. I wore it so frequently last year that my wife bought me another one in a different color for this year.
Most importantly, the Sherpa fleece liner is warmer than the old waffle knit lining. It’s also lighter, and being polyester, it wicks moisture and dries faster than cotton. When doing chores, it keeps me plenty warm down to 40°F. If I am stacking wood or doing something else physical, it’s fine to about freezing. When it is below freezing, I can wear a light shell over it and stay warm.
I also like the hood because it keeps my neck and ears warm when the wind blows, which is more often than not. The zipper is great because I can unzip if I sweat. (If you aren’t aware, perspiration is best avoided when working in the cold because it can cause you to become chilled when you stop working.) This is why I prefer the zip hoodies to the pullovers.
I find I value my Sherpa-lined hoodie the most when I am not wearing it. For instance, I wore a nice Columbia fleece to a meeting yesterday. When I walked the dog that night, I was chillier than normal. Only then did I realize I wasn’t wearing my hoodie. My fleece pullovers suited me fine when I spent most of my life indoors, but now that I am outdoors anywhere between 90 minutes and several hours per day, a standard fleeces are not warm enough. They may call it “polar fleece,” but I disagree.
Church Clothes Versus Work Clothes
A friend in the building trades wore out his work boots surprisingly fast. He developed a system in which he always owned three pairs: His newest pair was his “church boots,” which he wore to church or any other time when worn, scuffed wok boots would not do. Then he had his everyday boots, which he wore on the job. Finally, he had his terrible boots, which he wore when he was working in greasy, tarry, or other filthy conditions. When a pair of boots wore out, he would move it down to the next grade and buy a new pair of boots, which became his church boots.
I now do that. I have a pair of black boots that are polished. These are my dress shoe equivalents and I wear them when my wife and I are going out to dinner. I don’t wear them to Walmart. I have several pairs of every-day boots, including summer boots, insulated winter boots and all-around boots. Then I have safety toe boots, which are my scuffed and ugly work boots. I don’t think any amount of polish could rehabilitate them. Finally, I have my paint boots. These are speckled with paint and the sole is held on with Shoe Goo and duct tape, but they keep me from getting paint on any of my nicer boots.
I am applying this system to my hoodies. My new one is the “church hoodie” while last year’s is my work hoodie. If I am going to stack firewood, clean out the chicken coop, or grab some hay (which gets everywhere) for the chickens, I wear last year’s hoodie. The newer hoodie is what I wear when I am running about town. I often leave my heavy coat in the car–where it is available for cold-weather emergencies–and wear the hoodie when I run into the post office or a store.
I do the same thing with my work pants and cargo pants, which include almost-new pairs, every day pants, and I have pants with stains and rips or that have faded so much my wife won’t let me wear them in public. Wearing them while I am weed whacking is just fine, however.
With any luck, someone will buy me another hoodie next year, maybe in navy blue. That will then become my “dress hoodie” (which sounds like an oxymoron), and I can use my oldest hoodie for dirty jobs like changing the oil.
Twenty years ago, I had suits, business casual, and weekend clothes. This is the prepper’s equivalent. Why is it important for prepping? Because it gives me redundancy, which goes back to my Layered Approach to Prepping philosophy. For example, by having multiple hoodies, I have a fallback hoodie if one gets damaged, lost, or wears out. It also gives me a hoodie I can give to someone who bugs out and arrives under-equipped. Sure, they may be stuck with my third-tier hoodie, but it will still keep them warm and it’s far better than nothing.
When you get older, you reach a point where your physical abilities are not as good as they once were. Even if you do your best to stay in shape, your eyesight declines and you have trouble seeing the front sight. Your hearing diminishes. You may get arthritis. Trust me, the day will come when you can no longer keep up with a 28-year-old. But we can offer knowledge, experience, and gear. For example, I have a retreat, which none of the younger generation in my family has. I have 30-years’ worth of preps. Is one spare hoodie going to make my son-in-law, who is twenty-some years younger and an army vet, think I’m hot stuff? No, but when he is wearing my spare plate carrier, decked out with my magazines, loaded with my ammo, wearing my spare camo boonie hat and combat shirt, he might think, “Jeez, Pete sure has it together. We’re lucky to be here.” That’s made possible by redundancy.
So far, my favorite Sherpa-lined hoodie is the one I purchased at Costco for about $20. Hard to beat the price and it wears well. The only negative is that the lining shows dirt before the exterior does, but this would be the case for any light-colored lining
Costco Men’s Full Zip Sherpa Lined Hoodie gets our top rating due to its performance and cost.