The week Field Mag launched in 2015 we published a short article on a pair of collab hikers by Japanese outfitter And Wander. Almost exactly five years later, I’m still drooling over the brand, which has finally begun to filter into the North American market. Like those boots, the latest piece to catch my eye is designed for hiking. Unlike those boots, which remain a grail, the Alpha Direct Hoodie is a bit more attainable (full disclosure I’m wearing it as I type this, cozy as can be in my Brooklyn apartment).
For those uninitiated, And Wander is a niche outfitter making largely unisex outdoor apparel and bags of a caliber rarely seen elsewhere. For founders Keita Ikeuchi and Mihoko Mori, it’s important the brand falls into the fashionable outdoor gear category, rather than be considered outdoor-inspired fashion. Though the two met while working for famed Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, they are both long time outdoor enthusiasts, and drew on this to launch And Wander in 2011. The two combine their design and fashion experience and outdoor knowhow to create some of the most functional, most aesthetically beautiful outdoor garments and gear around.
Case in point, the made in Japan Alpha Direct Hoodie, a new layering piece made with Polartec’s hugely innovative Alpha Direct fleece. The unique knit fabric weaves fibers together to create an incredible amount of dead space—which insulates—while allowing greater heat transference and moisture management. It’s also highly compressible and crazy lightweight.
Weighing between 6 and 9 oz, size depending, the incredibly warm fleece is fit for ultralight hiking and daily adventure of all kinds. DWR-treated lightweight nylon Cordura paneling on the chest, shoulders, and hood protect against backpack and shoulder strap abrasion while also adding some wind and weather proofing. (If you’re a real ounce counter, check out Portland-based maker Senchi Designs, who hand sews 4 oz hoodies using similar Alpha fleece.)