The latest piece of gear from the LA-based GoGo Gear is a protective cycling garment called the Armored Hoodie. It's a fairly self explanatory name, but one that comes up short for something that could be one of the most popular scooter and motorcycle protective garments ever made. It is, simply, an armored hoodie, but the way that the team at GoGo Gear have executed something so simple makes quite a difference in this piece of gear.
I selected a black (the only color available except a special - sold out and now re-stocked - run of "Little Red Riding Hoodies" for the ladies), size XL hoodie at Blackbeard Powersports on Groesbeck Highway in Clinton Township. I'm a 195 pound, 5'11" average-sized American male. The fit of the Armored Hoodie is absolutely perfect on me. The sleeves are a bit long for reaching for handlebars, the mid-section is snug and form fitting, even with my slightly large stomach area (I'm a dad and have to look the part).
Comfort: It feels like wearing a soft, cotton hoodie, but a more substantial hoodie than usual. The cloth shell is thick, but the combination of the lining, the Kevlar fabric, (along the back of the arms and completely covering the back of the jacket) and shell, make the hoodie feel strong yet comfortable. The armor is significant, CE-approved and doesn't skimp on material - it's really protective armor. The armor is very skillfully integrated into the hoodie, so much so that I have to tell people that I'm actually wearing a protective garment. This is a heavy jacket, but wears like a much lighter thin hoodie.
Protection: The armor and the Kevlar fabric make a normal-looking hoodie into something that offers significant protection. With shoulder, elbow and the back pad armor, one feels very protected riding. Knowing the Kevlar fabric lining is there helps complete the feel. Due to the plain cotton shell, the Armored Hoodie probably isn't as protective as something made with ballistic nylon or a heavier weaved material, but it is much better than wearing just a plain hoodie, a popular riding option here in Detroit.
Style/design: The secret to the Armored Hoodies style is that it looks just like a regular old hoodie. Sure, the bright red mesh nylon lining is a giveaway, but no one has to see that when you are wearing it. The hood is functional as well as perfectly proportioned for the hoodie. The black plastic full length zipper blends in with the hoodie and looks to be very heavy duty. There are even discrete, zippered, air vents tucked under the arms. The hoodie is long and snug, and the fit is flattering.
Details: The mesh lining (a "sports-type" material that is slightly shiny, like something you would see on an athletic jersey) allows one's arms to slide in comfortably around the shoulder and elbow armor pockets and through the snug wrist cuff. The pockets are deeper than a normal hoodie, and are zippered, a thoughtful detail. The underarm vents are zippered as mentioned above, but are also lined with the red mesh liner. The cell phone pocket on the inside of the right chest is perfectly sized for most phones and offers both a grip strip closure and a water-resistant lining. Even the little things like the snug cord for the hoodie are addressed - the ends are shielded by small plastic caps, there are toggles on each side of the hoodie and even the thick hood cord is delightfully textured, a nice contrast to the rest of the smooth cotton used in the shell.
Weaknesses: Does the Armored Hoodie have any weaknesses? It is black and seems to pick up lint and pet hair just like every other piece of black clothing that I have. It's easy to wear and it's often used as a regular jacket. It's not a true cold weather jacket, although I've worn it and been comfortable walking around in 22-degree weather. On a scoot with the wind-chill the air flowing through the jacket would be cool, making this a three season jacket in Michigan, save for those summer days in the 90s. Other than that a hanging loop is all this jacket needs to be perfect.
Value: MSRP for the GoGo Gear Armored Hoodie is $129, and it represents an excellent value at that price. I've seen it in shops for an even $100 and that's incredible for a jacket that you can wear anywhere, on or off the scoot, and not look like either a Power Ranger or a fashion victim. You blend right in with all of the rest of the hoodie wearing crowd. Only you know the secret of the built-in protection. If you ride your scooter casually, but want a favorite "go-to" jacket hanging by the door, this could be it. Go get one.
When I spoke with Arlene Battishill of GoGo Gear, she said that the Armored Hoodie is "the most successful piece to gear that we've done." She wasn't surprised that the women's "Little Red Riding Hoodie" sold out so fast (and is now a full-time part of the line). She said that not only did the usual customers call and email to grab one, she had a lot of husbands and friends ordering them as gifts. "That's the thing," she continued, "Our customers are the best; they are the people who enjoy riding and want their significant other to either ride with them and have that fun, or feel that they are safer on the bike or scoot with their riding gear."
In summary, the GoGo Gear Armored Hoodie is a superb effort and the best men's jacket to come out of GoGo Gear. They just seem to be getting better and better - I wonder what's next?
What's next: Gear Review: Aerostitch Dispatch Bag