Mountain Equipment Dark Days Hood Jacket
Stated Weight: 635g / 22.4oz
• Mid-weight Thermocore fleece with knitted face and soft pile lining
• Mountain cut with pre-shaped sleeves
• Grown-on hood with low profile adjusters
• Double layered fleece at elbow for improved durability
• Moulded YKK® centre front zipper
• 2 zipped hand warmer pockets
• Lycra® bound cuffs and hem
Size Tested: Large / Zipper Length: 75cm
Reviewer: 5’10”, 180 lbs.
Test Locations: Canterbury, NZ; northern NM; central VT; SLC, UT
Days Worn: ~50
MSRP: $139.95 USD
While I’ve gone on record about my love of good flip flops, hoodies are probably my favorite article of clothing.
a) Lightweight cotton zip-ups (favorite: my turquoise MOMENT Skis hoody)
b) Heavier cotton pullovers (favorite: tie between my old University of Chicago hoody and my new Mt. Olympus club field hoody)
c) Polyester hoodies (the Westcomb Ozone, this Mountain Equipment Dark Days, and an old Patagonia hoody that has holes in it from camp fire burns)
d) Merino Wool hoodies (e.g., the Mons Royale Mid Hoody)
d) Synthetic-insulation hoodies (e.g., the Patagonia Nano Puff hoody, and the new Thermoball hoody from The North Face)
e) Down-insulated hoodies (e.g., the Patagonia Ultralight Down hoody & Arc’terxy Cerelium hoody—review coming soon)
Over the past six months, I’ve been getting time in five different hoodies, each serving different purposes, and it’s time for the reviews.
I’m going to start with the warmest of the non-synthetic or down insulated jackets: the Mountain Equipment Dark Days Hooded Jacket.
Mountain Equipment describes the Dark Days as best suited for cold “early starts and exhausted evenings.” They’re not marketing this as a piece of activewear, but rather as the piece you’ll want to grab before and after you’re out being active. And in my experience, they’re right—when it’s cold outside, you’ll want to grab it.
Aside from its straightforward good looks, the look and feel of the face fabric is what jumps out first—the knitted face looks great and is quite soft. It feels nicer than any polyester fleece hoody I’ve ever worn.
Fit / Sizing
I almost always wear a size large in hoodies, and I would call the fit of the Dark Days hoody “regular” to “slightly relaxed.” With a t-shirt underneath, this is not a slim, snug fit, nor is it a baggy, very relaxed fit.
“Regular” seems right. There’s nothing odd about the cut of the jacket, and I’m not at all tempted to size up to XL or size down to medium.
Again, “Regular.” Not short, not extra long. In “bike position” (arms extended forward to grab the handlebars) the sleeves ride up a few inches, so there isn’t some bike-specific cut here. General cut, Regular fit.
I’m a big fan of the Dark Days’ zippered pockets, and I wouldn’t mind if more hoodies had zip closures.
This might be the most functional hood I’ve seen on a non-puffy hooded jacket. The Dark Days is a fairly casual jacket with a pretty tricked out hood. The brim of the hood has just enough stiffness and shape to it that it will stay put if it’s raining or snowing, or even if you’re facing a pretty stiff wind. I can’t say the same for many of the hoodies I’ve used, so if you often or even occasionally make use of a hood in wet, windy conditions, the Dark Days is hard to beat.
Low-Profile Hood Adjusters
These are pretty slick, too. The hood adjusters are routed internally, stay out of the way, and create a clean look (see the product image at the top of the review). The adjusters then get tucked away on the inside of the jacket:
Little known fact: Long before Blister, I was a grad student and philosophy professor. So I am, of course, a huge fan of the reinforced elbows of the Dark Days hoody—they remind me of all those philosophy conferences where the room was filled with tweed jackets with leather elbow patches. And given that when I’m not skiing I’m often at a computer writing, you won’t hear me complaining about the reinforcements.
Elbow patches rule.
It’s Not Activewear, but Could It Be?
For me, at least, the Dark Days would be too warm for high exertion activities like running, and temperatures would have to be around or below freezing if I was going to wear this as a midlayer while skinning or bootpacking.
But where I think the Dark Days will shine is as a midlayer on cold resort days (~35-10 degrees F) beneath an uninsulated hardshell, when you’re riding lifts and doing some boot packing, and a full on puffy-jacket midlayer would be overkill.
While the Dark Days is warm, it’s not windproof. So if you’re biking on a very cold morning and the wind is whipping, it might not be enough. Without wicked winds, however, I’ve been comfortable outside in the Dark Days with just a short-sleeved t-shirt underneath in temperatures right around or above freezing.
There’s nothing I don’t like about the Mountain Equipment Dark Days Hooded Jacket. If you’re looking for a warm, functional hoody and don’t need something as warm or as bulky as a puffy, then the Dark Days is basically perfect, with a nice, soft feel and an excellent hood that is very functional and adjustable.
It’s become my go-to for cold mornings and evenings in the high desert of New Mexico, providing a good level of warmth without being too much for indoor use. And I suspect it’ll be seeing some time as a midlayer on the slopes of Taos Ski Valley quite soon.
Consider the Dark Days Hooded Jacket vetted and highly recommended.
Enter here to win this hoody.