The Senchi Designs Lark is an ultralight Polartec Alpha Direct Hoodie that is quite warm when worn in a sleeping bag or under a rain shell or wind shirt. Weighing just 5.1 oz, it’s half the weight of other types of gridded or brushed fleece hoodies and much more compressible. I’ve been using it for the past few months for hiking and backpacking in summer weather as an outer layer, for sleeping under a quilt, and inside a rain jacket or wind shirt as a mid-layer.
Specs at a Glance
- Size Tested: Large (true to size)
- Weight: 5.1 oz / 145g (actual)
- Material: Polartec Alpha Direct 90 gsm
- Ventilation: Quarter Zip
- Includes: Fine mesh bag to protect hoodie when machine washing
- Color: Dune
- For complete specs
Polartec Alpha Direct or Polartec Alpha as it is frequently called is a porous and gauzy type of synthetic fleece that was originally designed to be the insulation layer inside a windproof jacket, but its use as a standalone material for hoodies has taken off because it’s so comfortable, lightweight, and warm to wear by itself. That said it does have some limitations: it has no wind resistance and and provides little insulation when it gets wet, particularly under a rain jacket, when it becomes soaked with perspiration and internal condensation. Durability is also a concern since it’s easy to tear if you snag it on a branch and contact with Velcro will pull and tear the fibers, so contact with it must be avoided at all costs.
I have used three different Polartec Alpha Hoodies this spring and summer:
While they’ve all been equivalent in terms of performance, I like the fit of the Senchi Designs Lark Hoodie the best in terms of chest girth and length. The Farpointe Hoody is nice, but I had to modify it slightly to prevent the hood drawstring from pulling out, a detail that I thought should have been addressed by the manufacturer instead. The Lightheart Gear Hoody is the most durably made of the three with two layers of material in high-wear areas, but it’s too long, sticking out under the hem of my shorter rain jacket where it gets soaked when it rains.
The Senchi Designs Lark however has been perfect for my needs. It’s a simple garment with a quarter zip for temperature regulation, elastic wrist cuffs, and an elastic hemmed hood that fits well over my head without being too snug or too loose. It’s also the perfect length, coming to my waist, so I can wear it with any of my rain jackets without having it stick out the bottom where it can absorb rain.
I also like the fact that the Senchi Lark comes with a fine mesh wash bag to protect the hoodie when I machine wash it and is designed to reduce micro-plastic waste from PET plastic apparel. That’s something the other two hoodie manufacturers don’t include. I machine wash the hoodie in this bag in cold water and then hang dry it to prevent shrinkage and so far it’s held up wonderfully under that treatment.
The Senchi Designs Lark Polartec Alpha Hoodie is an ultralight fleece hoodie with a quarter-length front zip for ventilation. It’s a great mid-layer garment for use under a rain jacket or wind shirt or for sleeping in at night when camping. The Lark is durably made with elastic wrist cuffs and an elastic-bordered hood that fits well and is waist length so that it pairs well with any length rain jacket or vest. The Lark Hoodie comes with a fine mesh wash bag to protect the hoodie when machine washing is designed to reduce micro-plastic waste from PET plastic apparel. Highly Recommended!
Disclosure: The author owns this product.
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