As a lifelong adventure seeker living in New York City, any piece of outerwear I consider bringing into my gear closet (aka a few storage bins stacked in my living room) must meet the following criteria: be functional in a range of weather conditions and stylish enough for frequent wear in an urban landscape, too. The KÜHL Aktivator Hoody ticks both boxes.
For the past couple weeks I’ve been testing the hooded jacket around town, from trips by bike to the climbing gym to morning jogs and daytime grocery runs. Beyond simply being constantly surprised by how soft and comfy the midweight jacket is, the benefits of the clever and visually interesting body mapping design are clear. It's lightweight, yet warm, with three different weights of synthetic insulation arranged to help regulate body temperature—a crucial combination for the fluctuating weather in NYC and nearby mountain environments—and provide warmth where you need it most and avoid excessive heat in areas where you don’t.
Functionality extends beyond insulation, too. The fit of the jacket is tailored—approaching slim but not overly so. I’m 6’1” with a trim build and the size Large fit like a glove with one light layer underneath. If I was planning to wear a fleece or a hoody underneath, I may have sized up to XL.
Which brings us to the material portion of this gear review: The smooth, nylon taffeta exterior is very windproof and performed especially well during colder evening wears—it’s warmer than it looks. The water-resistant treatment is functional for getting caught in drizzly conditions, but I wouldn't suggest wearing it out during a downpour. That said, if you do get soaked through, the synthetic insulation will still keep you warm even wet, unlike down.
The softshell material also features enough stretch to make it comfortable and not restrict movement, without looking like it’s meant for sunrise yoga sessions. I’ve yet to take it out on the trail, but hauling groceries across town and up six flights of stairs in my Manhattan tenement building offered a pretty similar experience for testing purposes.
Overheating is a major concern when navigating city streets and trails alike, especially in transition seasons. Without pit zips, the KÜHL Aktivator Hoody addresses this with breathable underarm panels, a practical touch for active city dwellers. Zippered pockets—both hand and chest—add utility and secure storage on the move, while minimal branding helps the piece’s more subtle colorways fly under the radar. (Shout out the brave souls picking snow camo.)
All in, the KÜHL Aktivator Hoody offers a balanced combination of form and function, making it a practical choice as a primary layer for use on the trail, around town, and while traveling in colder climates.