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As this head-to-head reveals, no two hoodies are quite the same. Grey Wash Hoodie
Every hoodie is, in theory, the same (or nearly so). They're long-sleeved, with a body and a hood. There are pockets on the front — either one kangaroo or a pair of patches. But if you add a zipper on the front, it's an entirely different design. Zip-up hoodies are completely different from pullover hoodies, in both aesthetic and function.
Pullovers are cleaner, with a simpler front and one relatively flat pocket. Zip-ups, on the other hand, are great for layering or for topping off more casual (and less active) outfits. Plus, if you run hot, you won't need to squeeze your way out of your heavyweight hoodie. Doing so often lifts your undershirt, ruffles your hair, and dislodges your eyewear or AirPods along the way. Sure, that's a shortlist of not-so-serious problems, but when you're bundled up without room (seated on an airplane) or short on time (changing for a gym class), having the option to undo your front proves essential.
So, if you're set on this style, which is the right one to buy? We narrowed the search down to two of our favorites: the Flint and Tinder 10-Year Full Zip Hoodie and American Giant's Carolina Midweight Full Zip, two hoodies made with fabric sourced from the Carolinas.
American Giant's Carolina Midweight Full Zip Hoodie has set-in sleeves, a slim body and small front pockets. Flint and Tinder's 10-Year Full Zip Hoodie, on the other hand, has raglan sleeves, which offer better arm and shoulder mobility. The 10-Year Full Zip Hoodie is also a more relaxed fit, with a wider body and more room in the arms.
This gives American Giant's iteration the edge when it comes to slimming, because while most sweatshirts add width, this one is flattering through the mid section, even on bigger builds. Ultimately, though, the 10-Year is more comfortable to wear. The raglan sleeves make a serious difference when it comes you're wearing it to actually move (or lounge) around in.
I've found it works for both shooting a basketball and shuffling positions on the couch. With set-in sleeves, sometimes you get trapped — your torso gets twisted, the hood has shifted in front of your face and the sleeve seams are digging into your armpits. With Flint and Tinder's zip up hoodie you always have a little wiggle room, which is nice if you're simply searching for the beefiest, best-insulating hoodie.
Plus, the inner liner on the 10-Year is far superior. It's softer, even nappier and it retains body heat well — something you'll notice if you wear it for a while, take it off and then abruptly put it back. That's thanks in part to the difference in weight between the two sweatshirts.
The first thing you should know about Flint and Tinder's 10-Year Full Zip Hoodie is that it is heavy. Constructed from beefy 23 oz fleece fabric made in South Carolina, this thing's like a weighted blanket for your body. It doesn't feel heavy, though, or like it dominates your entire outfit the way a Carhartt or even Camber sweatshirt can. It sort of sits on top of what you have on underneath, offering you warmth and a cozy protective coating against the elements.
American Giant's is far more lightweight — 9.45 oz — but the brand does make heavier hoodies; there's the Classic Full Zip and Classic Full Zip Relaxed, as well as the Old School Full Zip. (Sweatshirts are American Giant's specialty.) The Carolina Midweight Full Zip is in this head-to-head because it's our favorite from the brand, not the closest equivalent to Flint and Tinder's.
To be fair, because this test isn't just about which is heavier, the American Giant Hoodie punches above its weight. Translated: this hoodie is incredibly warm for how lightweight it really is. As for Flint and Tinder's, well, it wears like it's made from 23-oz heavyweight fleece, which means it's pretty damn warm, too.
While the zippers on both hoodies are an upgrade on those you'll find on H&M or Zara's zip-ups, there are subtle differences between them nonetheless. Both brands use US-made zippers that were machined in Georgia by YKK (Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha), which sets the industry standard in terms of quality.
American Giant has a custom pulltab, though, whereas Flint and Tinder uses a stock option. While the adornment on American Giant's is nice, it's a little distracting, and it's ultimately wider than the zipper lane. I prefer the tidier look of Flint and Tinder's tonal zipper. I also found its iteration easier to zipper, but that's likely because of the difference in weight between them. Heavier hoodies stand up to an upward tug better than lightweight ones.
Even though this is the 4th test in this head-to-head, this is ultimately where you should start when you start shopping for a zip-up hoodie. These two, for example, serve completely different purposes, despite being essentially the same garment. Flint and Tinder's is an excellent top layer — something to wear over a T-shirt, a long-sleeve T-shirt or even a thermal. Few things work well overtop it, though, save for maybe a workwear-style vest.
American Giant's, on the other hand, is the ideal layer. It's form-fitting so it slots underneath a denim jacket well, and it's perfectly fine beneath a chore coat, too. Other things don't go terribly underneath it, to be warned — a flannel, for example, was too much underneath the slimmer sleeves.
As the top two products in the category, according to our well-research zip-up hoodie buying guide, they're both excellent options. The superior one, though, is the one that offers the best bang for its buck: the Flint and Tinder 10-Year Full Zip Hoodie. It's made in the USA — just like American Giant's — but it's way heavier, far softer and (usually) costs less.
Tapestry Hoodie Custom American Giant's is the ideal late summer sweatshirt: easy to slip on after a dip in the pool and fine beneath a trucker when temperatures dip as summer turns into fall. If you want one that is lightweight and easy to wear under other things, go with this one — you won't be able to layer with Flint and Tinder's unless your outer layers are just as relaxed.