Just in time for winter - Odlo's winter-weight base-layer top with integral hood and face-mask arrive.
Clever hoods seem to be all the rage this winter. First there was Mountain Equipment's new Eclipse Hoodie with a multi-use hood, and now just in time for winter, we have Odlo's Ninja Shirt - that's it's official name - which has a built in hood and face mask combo for cold weather use.
Swedish brand Odlo are baselayer specialists with a wide range of different fabrics on offer, but the Ninja is made from a winter-weight polyester with a luscious, brushed interior for instant snugness and a permanent anti-pong treatment.
It's sleekly cut with a nice body-hugging but not overtight fit with flat-lock seams for comfort. In fact, though it's not a word we use often, the feel of the top is, erm, 'lush' and pleasantly warm on a cool autumn afternoon. There are thumb-loops incorporated into the cuffs as well.
A Hood And A Mask
Of course what it's all about is the hood and face mask arrangement. Whereas the ME top has a single hood that also doubles to cover the lower part of the face, the Odlo has two distinct elements. First there's the hood, which is slightly loose on use, but fits neatly under a climbing or bike helmet and then there's the fold-up lower face mask which together with the hood, leaves just a space for your eyes.
Wear the two together and you look like, well, predictably, a ninja, particularly in our black test top. But you can also employ either part of the ensemble on its own. And the advantage of the two part arrangement is that you can wear the mask portion over your helmet straps which gives you the freedom to put it on or off, whereas a one-part hood will only work sat under the main chin-strap unless you stretch it over your helmet.
We like the concept. The fabric's thin enough not to affect your breathing and it means you don't need to carry a balaclava, which, in turn, you cannot lose carelessly or leave accidentally stuffed at the bottom of your pack.
We can foresee a few downsides: there's no zip for venting - it would also sit on your chin - and this also means that the hood and mask sit around your neck like a soft of big, floppy, thermal collar. Will that added bulk be irritating under a shell if you're not using the hood? Or just form a scarf-like snug neck liner.
Interesting stuff. Hoods on base and mid layers are a bit of a Marmite thing. You either love 'em or not, mostly because of the way they interact, or don't, with other layers. On balance we like 'em, particularly when the going gets gnarly and we're looking forward to some proper winter weather.
Price of the Ninja Shirt in both men's and women's versions is £60. Also available in non-black colours for less Ninja-like looks.
More information at www.odlo.com.