Sometimes a good way to gauge a gear company’s bonafides is to see what athletes it supports. In the case of apparel maker Himali, just a couple names go a long way: Ed Viesturs and Mingma G Sherpa. Viesturs was the fifth person to climb all of the world’s 14 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen—and the only American to have done so. Mingma G is hot off co-leading with Nims Purja the first ever winter summit of K2. That guys with such remarkable credentials are wearing Himali jackets is reason enough to give their clothes a look.
But I was already testing a Himali jacket before I knew that Mingma G and Viesturs were on the Himali team. I’ve been using the Himali Ascent Stretch Hoodie for a few months now, and it’s become one of my favorite new layers this winter.
The Ascent Hoodie isn’t a big belay or high-altitude jacket, but an active layer meant for technical terrain. The most noticeable thing about it is Himali’s proprietary Toray Primeflex fabric used in the outer shell; it has almost a skin-like texture to it, and at first blush you can’t tell if the jacket is meant as a mid-layer or an outer layer. My take is, frankly, both. The material is stretchier than most other puffies I’ve worn, so you can size it a bit snugger for that performance fit. While it’s not fully waterproof, water does bead off the outer shell fairly well, making it a reasonable choice on its own, without a hardshell, for times when you’re moving and it isn’t too wet.
Beneath that stretchy shell of the Ascent Stretch Hoodie is Primaloft Gold Synthetic insulation. This is the other piece of the puzzle that makes the piece such a good active layer: while it keeps you warm, it has enough breathability to function well while you’re hacking away at vertical ice or just post-holing up hill.
My preferred use for the Himali Ascent Stretch Hoodie this year has been on extremely cold ice-climbing days, when I needed an insulating layer even though I was generating a good amount of heat. The flexibility of the jacket meant I could swing away, stay warm and dry, and not feel restricted.
One last note on Himali: It was co-founded by Dave Schaeffer and Tendi Sherpa, an IFMGA guide who has summited Everest 13—yes, thirteen—times. Himali, explains their website, “creates premium mountaineering apparel and gives back to the Nepali community.” They accomplish the latter by monetarily supporting the Tendi Sherpa Foundation which works on educational opportunities for Nepali children; outfitting local Nepali climbers, guides, and porters in Himali apparel, to keep them warm and dry on expedition; and investing 5% of their net proceeds back into the Himalayan region, supporting educational and clean-water initiatives.
A company that’s trying to make a difference but also makes great garments? Yea, that’s something I can get behind.
We have opted to use affiliate links in our gear reviews. Every time you buy something after clicking on links in our gear articles you’re helping support our magazine.