Fall is an amazing season: Changing colors, cooling air, and fresh jackets from Helly Hansen. The new Vertex Stretch is a polyester, slick faced hoodie designed for high intensity activities like backpacking, jogging, and repeatedly diving face first into piles of leaves. This is my review.
The Vertex Stretch hoodie is what is called a “go” jacket, as apposed to a “stop” jacket. It’s designed to be used on the move. The outside of the jacket has a slick and attractive smooth face, while the inside the jacket is carefully piled into a honeycomb pattern, which provides air pockets for warmth and increases moisture management by creating wicking channels for moisture to move out. The jacket tested has a full frontal zipper,a hood, and a mesh lined chest pocket for stashing keys or a snack. The jacket is constructed from 94% polyester for insulation with 6% elastane for stretch, retails for $110 and is available in full and half zip variants.
What I liked
The Vertex Stretch has a great fit. With it’s activity driven design, it stays close to the body without actually being tight or restrictive. It stays in place during high activity, meaning it’s great for wearing under a pack or while biking in cooler temperatures. The fabric has an impressive amount of stretch to it, allowing me full mobility at all times with no resistance. This makes moving around inside a tent or climbing onto a huge 29er bike effortless. The straight cut caters more to an athletic build however, so if you generally land on the higher end of a medium, for example, you might want to consider a large if you want more internal space or a looser fit.
Performance wise, the Vertex Stretch provides standing warmth to about 50 degrees, and while hiking and working up some heat, it’s easily warm into the 30’s.Throw on a wind breaker or rain shell over top and it can be pushed even further as it’s only weakness is the fact that wind can easily penetrate the fibers. This, ironically, is also one of it’s greatest strengths. While climbing up steep climbs, where I would normally get hot and start to sweat, instinctively shredding jackets off of my body, it does a great job of regulating my body temperature instead. This is thanks to this air penetration and brilliant honeycomb design minimizing moisture and heat build up. When I did get damp, especially around thick backpack padding, the wicking channels did a great job of distributing the moisture and drying out surprisingly quickly. I loved the ability to stay warm, while still enjoying cool breeze while on the move.
I consider this to be inside the fleece jacket category, and that being the case it’s one of the lightest I’ve tested. It packs down small too, to about the size of a 6″ in diameter ball or perhaps folded neatly to the size of a 1″ thick magazine if you prefer.
Build quality is exceptional. In proper H/H fashion, the materials used are impressively consistent, with no runs or nicks, and all of the seams are double or triple reinforced (such is the waist and wrists). It holds it’s stretch even after days of use, manages to stay clean thanks to the slick outer surface. The zippers slide effortlessly, even gloved, one handed without hanging up. After hiking, biking, shoving it in and out of packs both on and off the trail, it’s holding up wonderfully with little sign that it’s been worn at all.
The jacket looks great too. I love the smooth outer finish that produces just a subtle bit of sheen, paired with the neatly decorated inside of the jacket. While not at all times immediately visible, the pattern looks pretty awesome with it’s futuristic honeycomb brushed material. The chest zipper and logo adds just a small flash of color, an always brilliant styling move, while the rest of the jacket sits comfortable in it’s subtlety. As a whole, it’s quite sleek with a very modern sporty look that whispers of quality and craftsmanship without being in your face about it.
What I didn’t like
The inner material takes some getting used to. After adjusting, I loved the brushed pattern as it provides excellent thermal properties, but it can be at first a bit scruffy. It’s not wool itchy by an means and I quickly became used to the sensation, but it’s still there.
There are no hand pockets here, so you’ll be relying on your pants pockets or gloves for those frigid fingers if you have cold-natured hands.
The Vertex Stretch is a wonderful fall or even early winter mid layer for those who are primarily active in the outdoors. It’s stylish, has a great fit, and provides a balance of warmth and breathability that is generally, very hard to find. I love the fact that I can actually hike wearing the jacket without becoming overheated or saturated in sweat, and it always stayed in place under my pack. It’s comfortable, feels great once you get used to the textured inner, and sits happily in my pack when not needed without taking up too much space. I can’t say I’ve ever found a batter go layer, and thus it’s earned my highest possible score.
The highest of recommendations
For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.
I want to extend a huge thanks Helly Hansen for providing this jacket for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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