an alpaca hoodie in use

Versatile Alpaca Hoodies for Adventure

An alpaca hoodie offers warmth, breathability, odor-resistance, reasonably quick dry time, luxurious comfort, and even sun protection in a textile that is hypoallergenic, technically superior to merino, and more eco-friendly than fleece. Alpacas were domesticated from wild vicuñas in the high Andes, so it makes sense that their wool would serve in a wide array of temperatures.

Alpaca wool apparel, and hoodies in particular, are an emerging category in the outdoor sporting, adventure travel, and athleisure markets, and we plan to keep our fingers on the pulse as offerings and textiles expand and evolve. At time of publication, we only consider two brands to be truly tested from a technical outdoor and mass consumer approval perspective – Appalachian Gear Company and PAKA Apparel.

Based on our experience, a hoodie is the most optimal and versatile cut, though all of the same fabric benefits apply to alpaca crew necks, tee shirts, quarter-zips, etc. Jump ahead to read more about the pros and cons of alpaca wool. You may also be interested in our guide to merino wool hoodies, hiking shirts, lightweight fleece jackets, and alpha direct hoodies.

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Quick Picks For Alpaca Wool Hoodies

Alpaca Hoodie Comparison Table

Price ($) Materials Design Intent
AppGearCo 8020 Sun 112 80% Alpaca, 20% Tencel Outdoor Sports
AppGearCo All-Paca 165 100% Alpaca Outdoor Sports
PAKA The Hoodie 139 65% Alpaca, 35% Nylon Adventure Travel
PAKA The Vida 129 40% Polyester, 30% Alpaca, 30% Merino Leisure Travel
PAKA Breath 139 42% Alpaca, 8% Tencel, 50% Cotton Everyday Wear
PAKA Breath Zip 139 42% Alpaca, 8% Tencel, 50% Cotton Everyday Wear
PAKA Apu Puffer 279 60% Alpaca, 40% Polyester Insulation, 90% Nylon 10% Spandex Shell Cold Weather

Best Alpaca Sun Hoodie

Appalachian Gear Company 80-20 Alpaca Sun Hoodie

Appalachian Gear Co 8020 Sun Hoodie

The AppGearCo 8020 Sun Hoodie is seemingly the only alpaca sun hoodie on the market. It’s moisture wicking, soft, and airy against the skin, perfect to use as a base layer to replace your polyester or nylon sun shirt. The fabric is superior to merino wool alternatives, because it dries faster, and is even more odor/bacteria-resistant.

We love the attention to detail, including reinforced seams, long tail drape, and generously sized hood. The addition of 20% Tencel (made from eucalyptus pulp) blend increases its sun-protection capabilities, softness, moisture wicking, and durability.

  • Price: $112
  • Fabric: 80% Alpaca, 20% Tencel
  • Designed For: Sun Protection, Base Layering, Warm Weather
  • Pros: Lightweight. Highly breathable. Comfy. Durable seaming. Full-coverage hood. 100% natural materials. Odor-resistant. Sustainable. Made in USA.
  • Cons: Less sun protection and slower dry time than comparably thick polyester/nylon alternatives.

Best Alpaca Hoodie Mid-layer For Outdoor Sports

AGC All-Paca Fleece

Appalachian Gear Co All-Paca Fleece Hoodie

Ditch that plastic-y fleece shirt you’re wearing and layer up with an AppGearCo All-Paca Hoodie. This hoodie is knit from 100% alpaca wool, and it ain’t laced with filler. That means it’s warmer and more breathable than alpaca-poly/nylon blends, but also a bit slower to dry and more expensive.

The All-Paca gets rave user reviews and makes for a perfect hiking mid-layer from late spring through early fall. Plus, it comes in tons of different colors!

  • Price: $165
  • Fabric: 100% Alpaca
  • Designed For: Outdoor Sports, Fleece Replacement, Mid-Layer.
  • Pros: 100% alpaca wool for max warmth and breathability. Warmer than blended fabrics. Durable enough for hiking, climbing. Highly odor-resistant. Sustainable. Soft and comfy.
  • Cons: Expensive. Lower warmth-to-weight ratio than top tier fleeces. Dries slower than poly/nylon.

Best Alpaca Hoodie For Adventure Travel

PAKA The Hoodie

Choose the PAKA Hoodie for a versatile adventure travel piece that’s game for a day hike, followed by a trip to the market, happy hour, and a night on the town. It’s very soft, exceptionally comfortable, and sure to draw compliments. No wonder 95% of the reviews for this alpaca hoodie are 5 stars.

The 65% alpaca, 35% nylon blend combines the warmth, breathability, and odor-resistance of alpaca with the durability, quick-dry time, and softness of nylon to great effect. A note on fit – this garment tends to stretch out with use, so if you’re in between sizes go down, rather than up.

  • Price: $139
  • Fabric: 65% Royal Alpaca, 35% Recycled Nylon
  • Designed For: Adventure Travel Versatility
  • Pros: Versatile. Soft. Comfy. Odor-resistant. Sustainable. Great looking.
  • Cons: Unisex fit. Stretches out some with use.

Best For Alpaca Hoodie For Leisure Travel

Paka The Vida

PAKA The Vida

If you think that Paka Vida looks like their aforementioned alpaca hoodie, you’re correct! These two are quite similar in many ways. However, there are some differences. The Vida is a tri-fabric blend, that combines polyester, alpaca, and merino. The polyester improves the garments quick-dry time, durability, and UV resistance. Other than decreased cost, we don’t see any technical benefit from adding in 30% merino instead of more alpaca.

But the end result is an alpaca hoodie that looks great, feels great, wears great, is lightweight and perfect for weeks-on-end of use while traveling. The alpaca and merino are both highly odor-resistance, meaning this could along on a nice long trip without ever needing to be washed. The fit is relaxed, so size down if in between.

  • Price: $129
  • Fabric: 40% Recycled Polyester, 30% Royal Alpaca, 30% Merino
  • Designed For: Leisure Travel Versatility
  • Pros: Quick drying. Odor-resistant. Sustainable. Soft. Comfy. Good looking.
  • Cons: Use of merino instead of more alpaca. Too loose and flowy for technical adventure. Unisex.

Best Alpaca Hoodie For Everyday Wear

PAKA Breath Hoodie

PAKA Breath Hoodie

The Paka Breath Hoodie is a modern take on an everyday classic. While it’s not a technical layer per se (it’s too heavy for hiking and cotton is slow to dry), it is a technically advanced, sustainable, bio-based design that effectively combines royal alpaca, Tencel, and pima cotton in all of the right ways.

The 100% cotton interior is soft, breathable, comfy, and moisture wicking. It pulls sweat off the skin, which eventually transits through the 85% alpaca 15% Tencel exterior for an increased dry time. This alpaca hoodie makes for a versatile daily driver, wear it at home, to gym, or for running errands around town. And gosh we love kangaroo pocket.

  • Price: $139
  • Fabric: 42% Royal Alpaca, 8% Tencel, 50% Organic Pima Cotton
  • Designed For: Athleisure, Everyday Activewear
  • Pros: Great looking. Comfy. Breathable. Kangaroo pocket. Odor-resistant. Sustainable. Thumb loops. Everyday versatility.
  • Cons: Cotton is slow drying. Too heavy for technical outdoor.
Paka Breath Zip Hoodie

PAKA Breath Zip Hoodie

The Paka Breath Zip Hoodie is a variation on the aforementioned Breath Hoodie, with enough notable design/feature differences that we’re listing it separately. In short, if you prefer a full-zip hoodie, choose this, and if you prefer a pullover sweatshirt style, choose the other.

One thing we like about Paka designs are that they all have a nice long drape, meaning there will never be a gap exposed around your waist. However, we note this has a bit of anti-synergy with the full-zip design in that the sense that when you sit down, the zipper coil always mounds or bunches awkwardly as there is too much material without enough room to drape down and lay flat. It’s not the end of the world, but might annoy somebody somewhere. We also find the kangaroo pocket on the sweatshirt version to be comfier and preferable, albeit less secure, than the zipped hand pockets on the zip hoodie.

Nonetheless, the full zip makes this alpaca hoodie great everyday way for work, appointments, dates, or any time you want to look casual and sophisticated without sacrificing comfort.

  • Price: $139
  • Fabric: 42% Alpaca, 8% Tencel, 50% Cotton
  • Designed For: Athleisure, Everyday Activewear
  • Pros: Great looking. Comfy. Breathable. Odor-resistant. Sustainable.
  • Cons: Not for technical use. Cotton is slow drying. Zipper in conjunction with long drape causes bunching.

Best Alpaca Puffy Jacket

Apu Lightweight Puffer

PAKA Apu Lightweight Puffer

For what is clearly the most innovative use of alpaca wool, we nod to the PAKA Apu Lightweight Puffer, made with PAKAFILL® insulation – a proprietary 60-40 blend of alpaca and polyester with uniquely structured hollow air pockets. It’s insulated with a continuous batting sheet, similar in physical structure to what’s found in most synthetic-insulated jackets, a la Nano Puff. The end result is as a highly sustainable and eco-friendly lightweight down jacket, but with half of the puffiness volume, and better breathability. Here we have an emerging sub-genre (alpaca-insulation) in an emerging category (alpaca apparel)!

For all of the same reasons that puffy jackets are warmer than fleece, Apu is warmer and cozier than any other alpaca hoodie in our guide, or that you might find on the internet. This is seriously cool design, and PAKA deserves love and accolades for it. However, we do note that from a pure ultralight backpacking perspective, it’s still not quite down’s equal in terms of warmth-to-weight ratio. It might be less voluminous than down, but it’s much heavier (a men’s small is listed as weighing 16.2 oz) . However, as an all purpose cold-weather garment, Apu looks to be just about perfect.

  • Price: $279
  • Material: PAKAFILL® 60% Alpaca, 40% Polyester Insulation, 90% Nylon 10% Spandex Shell
  • Designed For: General Cold Weather Use
  • Pros: Most sustainable puffy jacket. Stretchy. Warm. Innovative. Low bulk.
  • Cons: Lower warmth-to-weight ratio than down. Mid-weight.

Pros & Cons of Alpaca Wool vs Merino vs Nylon vs Polyester

At time of publication, we believe that alpaca wool is the #1 bio-based performance fabric on the market. It tops merino wool in most, if not all ways, and is generally preferable to synthetics like polyester and nylon, though not in every way. This article is focused on the alpaca hoodie in particular, because we believe hoodies are the most universal, versatile, and effective garment chassis to take into the backcountry or on travels. Now let’s dive in to the pros and cons.

Pros of Alpaca Wool

  • Warm, breathable, thermoregulating
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Soft and comfy
  • Sustainable, biodegradable
  • Odor-resistant
  • Absorbs little water, reasonably quick-drying
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Outperforms merino wool
  • Strong and long-lasting
  • Moisture wicking
  • Insulative when wet

Cons of Alpaca Wool

  • Expensive
  • Usually requires importing
  • Less UV blocking than polyester/nylon
  • Slower dry time than polyester/nylon

Alpaca wool is warm, strong, and lightweight

The microscopic composition of alpaca wool is is characterized by air trapping hollow voids, which increase its thermally insulative properties, similar to how puffy jackets work. This reminds us of hollow-core Octa yarn, but 100% natural. The hollow voids increase its loftiness, without increasing its weight, and offer a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than merino. It also has a higher tensile strength than merino, meaning it can bear more pressure before breaking.

Alpaca wool is very sustainable

Of course, any wool trumps petroleum based fibers like nylon and polyester when graded for sustainability. That’s because it’s bio-based and 100% natural, of course. But even compared to merino wool, alpaca wool requires less industrial processing, and the presence of alpacas is less harmful to grazing lands than sheep. And like all wools, alpaca is biodegradable.

Absorbs little moisture, reasonably quick drying

Compared to merino wool, which can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture, alpaca wool absorbs approximately 10%. With less moisture absorbed, that means it is much quicker to dry out. The overall great breathability of knit alpaca wool allows for great passage of air through the textile, which further speeds up dry time. That being said, like all natural fibers, it is still slower drying than nylon and polyester, which absorb less than 5% of their weight in moisture.

Alpaca Wool is odor-resistant, bacteria-resistant

Alpaca is naturally antimicrobial, thus resistant to odor. After days, or even weeks of use in the backcountry, you may not even notice a smell while polyester garments would reek. This is due in part to its cellular structure which bacteria struggles to penetrate, and complimented by minimal moisture absorption to create a hostile environment to yuckies. A recipe that prevents bacterial growth.

Soft & Hypoallergenic

Even compared to merino, which is famed for its softness, alpaca comes out on top. First, it has a smaller micron count, meaning the fibers are narrower and give a softer hand feel, especially royal alpaca. Alpaca fiber is also smoother and more uniform than merino, thus less prickly to touch. Lastly, the fibers are free of lanolin, which is an allergic irritant to some people.

References

An alpaca wool hoodie

Conclusion To The Best Alpaca Hoodie

Thanks for reading our guide to the best alpaca hoodie where we hope you found your ideal garment. We love covering emerging categories, and hope to see the proliferation of alpaca wool used in outdoor and travel apparel. We will update this post regularly as new brands and hoodies come online. So for now, happy trails, happy travels, and happy hiking!

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