Since the premature disappearance of the Smoulder Hoodie the all encompasing multi function mid/sole layer hooded top has been the one noticeable gap in the company's product range. With body mapping, Polartec's Power Grid and a miserly weight of 380g the Extrem 7000 Hoodie not only fills the gap but takes the hoodie to a new level.
What the manufacturers say:
A technical lightweight fleece for year-round use with incredible wicking properties, exceptional warmth and a multi-use hood system to protect you in a range of conditions. The Extrem 7000 Hoody is made from POLARTEC POWER GRID fabric, body-mapped with two varying fabric weights to distribute warmth where it's needed most. The hood system combines an integral balaclava and has four different set-up options, so you can adapt on-the -go to the changing weather conditions. The Extrem 7000 Hoody provides warmth, adaptability and performance for the mountains and everything they throw at you.
- The perfect lightweight fleece you can use all year round. With great moisture wicking and exceptional warmth to weight ratio it will never leave your back
- Body Mapped Technology - Scientifically engineered to deliver precision heat zones through body-mapped technology
- Polartec Power Grid - High efficiency fabric with reduced weight, and increased warmth and compressibility
- Integrated Alpine Balaclava - An adaptable hood that can be worn in multiple ways for all weather protection
The Extrem 7000 Hoody has big shoes to fill; the Smoulder Hoody was one of our favourite ever Berghaus products and saw almost daily use until the elbows literally wore out. It was a loss that's not seen a replacement until now.
The Extrem 7000 Hoodie is a hybrid technical fleece combining Polartec® Power Grid™ (230 g/m²) blocked with Polartec® Power Grid™ (132 g/m²) and fleece (220 g/m²). The fabrics are body mapped to provide insulation to core areas while allowing increased breathability in other areas. The result is a mid layer hoody suitable across a range of activities year-round. A Polygiene antibacterial treatment helps reduce odour, making it suitable for continuous multi-day use but at just 380g it's not excessively heavy should you need to carry it rather than wear it.
At £120 the Extrem 7000 Hoody is on the expensive side for a mid-layer fleece, but it's no ordinary fleece. People bandy the term "technical" around and generally just expect us to swallow it without any evidence of what "technical" really means but there's no questioning the technical qualities of this hoody. The bodymapping of the two main fabrics is instantly obvious with distinct differences between the central core and the lower arm/lower torso sections both visually and in use. The integrated "alpine balaclava" arrangement of a close fitting hood and a neck warmer/face mask probably draws inspiration from the Arcteryx Konseal but if anything betters it, providing a highly adjustable level of head, neck and face protection instantly ah hand.
The cut of the Extrem 7000 Hoody is tailored for dynamic movement and the flat locking stitch gives low profile seams, making it a very flexible garment in use but can be a bit of a pain to get on over a base layer. The inner face of the Power Grid fabric has a tendency to grip on baselayer fabrics and bunch up around the upper arm rather than slipping on easily. In addition to providing extra insulation around the body core the heavier duty fabric is also used in heavy wear areas, giving extra durability at rucksack strap contact points.
In use the hoody reflects its "Extrem 7000" heritage. Berghaus describe it as suitable for all year round use but short of wearing it wide open and unzipped it's hard to see where it would fit in on a hot sunny day. While the twin fabrics both have very good wicking properties the core section is noticably warmer than your average midlayer and even at rest in the late summer sun it's not long before you need to undo the zip. Once the wind or altitude rises, however, it really does come into its own.
The neck and hood of the Extrem 7000 Hoody show real attention to detail with a high neck ideal for mountaineers complimented by a 15cm zip baffle and a chin guard. The hood while not adjustable is very well fitted and the stretch fabric seals well enough to stay in place in the face of 120mph winds in freefall! The alpine balaclave sits just below the hood can be used as a neck warmer or face mask, either in combination with the hood or used with the hood down. What make it particularly useful is that it can be accessed with or without the hoody on or zipped up, meaning you can quickly pull if from behind the neck to in front, or as a full face mask, on the move with one hand.
The bonded seam at both the cuffs and hem give a good seal over gloves and trousers, helping the hoody to create its own microclimate and if does get wet both fabrics are quick drying. The thumb loops are functional, for those who like them, and extend the sleeve protection to the base of the fingers, making them effectively half length liners when used under a winter glove.
Technical aspects aside the Extrem 7000 Hoody is a joy to wear. Once you've pulled the shoulders into place it's extremely comfortable against the skin for use as a single layer and as a mid layer its flexible, breathable, quick drying and seals well wherever cold could get in. The hood is exceptional and while the balaclava may feel a bit loose deployed as a neck gaiter or mask that's actually a bonus over a tighter fitting mask. Quite simply you can breathe with hood up, googles on and the neck and face mask up without "fogging" or prolems with condensation on the inner surface.
When it's described as a "all year round" garment you have to take into account it's in the Extrem range so "year round" doesn't necessarily mean year round in South East England but year round in an alpine environment. In the UK it may prove a bit too warm for some, but at three or four thousand metres in the Alps, the minimum environment the range is designed for, it's as close to the perfect balance between insulation and breathability as we've seen. In reviewing it's a difficult product to categorise; it's a fleece and a midlayer but it's also a jacket (sort of) and it's equally at home mountain biking or alpine mountaineering. It's a "jack of all trades" garment but unlike the proverb the Extrem 7000 Hoody seems to have mastered many of those trades. Will I be wearing it until the elbows wear through? - probably.