There are times when a piece of gear doesn’t rotate out of our inventory and it becomes a favorite. Such was the case with the Triple Aught Design Raptor Hoodie. I’ve worn the Raptor for a year and a half. When I reviewed it last year, I originally thought it would only be a three season jacket. Since then, I’ve revised my thinking when it comes to layering systems and now I wear it year-round.
As it turned out, the Raptor paired with an insulating breathable mid-layer and a synthetic base layer is a great cold weather combo. Base layers are somewhat of a commodity for me. I wear whatever is on hand. For my mid-layer, I went with the Patagonia Nano Air Hoodie. It fits well under the Raptor.
I opted for the Nano Air in hoodie form versus the jacket because when temperatures really drop, the Nano Air’s insulated hood inside of the Raptor’s hood provides extra head warmth. And even when the hood is down, it keeps the back of my neck warm.
Of course, there are alternatives to the Nano Air. Triple Aught Design has a Polartec Alpha mid-layer called the Equilibrium (EQ), which is now available as a hoodie, jacket, and vest. I really liked the Alpha insulation in the EQ jacket, but unfortunately the hoodie version wasn’t available when I purchased the Nano Air.
So why has the Raptor worked so well as a winter shell? First, it’s water-resistant. If you keep up the DWR, rain and snow just beads off.
Second, it does a good job of cutting the wind, which is always an issue here in the Midwest. Wind chills can drop real feel temperatures well below zero. And third, the Raptor is extremely breathable. When I hike, I usually start at the trail head cold, but quickly warm up. Despite having no pit zips, the Raptor dumps heat and prevents inside/out moisture build-up better than any shell I’ve used. In fact, it vents so well that I’ve learned not to keep my iPhone in the chest pockets because it’s always wet when I pull it out. One of these days, I’m going to forget and kill my phone that way.
Other features that I’ve liked include the three-way adjustable hood with a brim.
The suede polyester at the collar is also a nice detail.
The Raptor’s Aquaguard zippers are not the smoothest you’ll find but they keep moisture at bay and so far they’ve held up great.
If you only have enough money to invest in one premium shell then I highly recommend the Triple Aught Design Raptor Hoodie. As part of a seasonal layering system, it’s difficult to find an outer layer that can adapt to such a range of weather conditions like the Raptor.
The Triple Aught Design Raptor Hoodie retails for $425 and comes in black, gunship, multicam, and phantom and it can be purchased here.