The Wild Things Power Stretch 1/4-Zip Hoody is one of three lightweight hooded fleece jackets we've tested. This type of fleece is exceptionally versatile. It's best used over a thin baselayer for high output activities, but can be used anytime anywhere, and for anything.
Matt Wilhelm settles into his bivy (Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight Bivy and Zpack's 20 degree bag) while wearing the Wild Things Power Stretch 1/4 zip and Arcteryc Atom LT. High Sierra, California.
Wild Things' version of this classic layer uses Polartec Power Stretch, which is highly breathable and stretchy. The material is great, but the jacket's features are poor when compared to the two other similar fleeces tested (Patagonia R1 Hoody
and Outdoor Research Radiant Hybrid
). Specifically, the hood zipper irritates your chin, the fleece has no thumb loops, the chest pocket is smaller than average, and the cut is shorter than others (which means you can't tuck it in as well and it's not as warm when you have your arms overhead).
Of the drawbacks, the zipper and hood design are arguably most significant.Instead of having an offset zipper, Wild Things runs the zipper straight up your chin and provides little padding for it. When you have the zipper opened slightly the sides of the hood flap around, hit your face, and tend to block your view. In the hundreds of days our testers have spent in the R1 Hoody and Radiant Hybrid we've never experienced this problem. For alpine climbers, the shorter cut will likely be the fleece's most significant drawback. We found that it's markedly more prone to riding up the the R1 and Radiant Hybrid (we tested the same sizes).
Hood comparison: Wild Things Power Stretch (left) and Patagonia R1 Hoody (right). Note how the R1's offset zipper is more comfortable than the Wild Things' "in your face" zipper.
The Patagonia R1 Hoody's chin guard drops down out of sight and out of your way. The Wild Things Power Stretch Hoody's hood, in contrast, can reduce your visibility and flaps your face when it's unzipped partly.
The Patagonia R1 Hoody, our top rated fleece in this category, is significantly more comfortable, warmer, and has a larger pocket.