Unlike leg day or that multi-mile run you've been planning, climate change is something that can't be ignored anymore. The effects aren't just felt on the outdoor spaces and air quality — less livable areas mean less training environments for all your fitness endeavors. And while athletes can turn up the RPE to live more sustainable lives, it's going to take a hefty effort to truly make worthwhile changes.
Individual athletes aren't solely on the hook, however, for rewriting our environmental impact. Brands need to innovate and revolutionize manufacturing processes to lessen carbon footprints, preserving the ecosystem and natural resources we have left.
That's why Nike, one of the biggest names in not just fitness but apparel in general, made headlines this past September with its all-new Nike Forward campaign. Utilizing punch-needle machines for the purpose of making premium, sustainability-minded products while lowering its carbon footprint by 75 percent when compared to traditional fleece, these latest garments showcase the breakthroughs necessary to maintaining Earth for the sake of fitness and life alike.
But are these innovations truly revolutionary, or simply just the latest example of greenwashing in today's world? To find out, I donned the all-new Nike Forward Hoodie in multiple training scenarios to see if the breakthrough processes maintained a sense of quality while still keeping with the eco-friendly notion at the forefront of the campaign. Features including comfort, convenience and (of course) fit were also considered, because what's a hoodie worth if it's unappealing to wear? Here's what I found.
What's Good About the Nike Forward Hoodie?
Despite the lightweight construction, this hoodie is extremely warm and cozy.
When you look for warm outer layers, you expect a little bit of bulk to help lock in that body heat — not everything can be made from merino wool, after all. That's why upon first wear, I was a little skeptical of the Nike Forward Hoodie's warming claims. According to the brand, "Nike Forward combines multiple thin layers of select fibers for an exceptionally lightweight feel that’s effortlessly warm and comfortable."
That said, after wearing the garment religiously for multiple weeks, I can attest to the coziness of this technology.
Whether trudging through late-night runs or getting a sweat on before a hefty bench session, this hoodie gave off a comforting sense of heat that I often found comparative to my go-to hiking apparel. The lightweight construction — made possible by the reductive needle-punching process — cloaks your torso in a way that practically disappears across your frame, which allowed me to better focus on my warmup sets while still staving off any chills.
The sustainable manufacturing process doesn't compromise quality.
Innovative materials taking aim at the climate crisis aren't always the most durable or well-built. That's not the case, however, with the Nike Forward Hoodie. Each exposed seam is strong and secure, and the raw edge pockets have yet to show signs of fraying or wear. While I have yet to take this hoodie through the trials of trail running — where an errant branch or thick, uncut trailways could prove my analysis null and void — it has been relieving to see this garment hold up as I dug through the front pocket to locate my headphones, or rested a barbell across my shoulders when performing a squat.
While all these quality-focused notes are nice to highlight and a treat to test, it's also relieving to note that all the tech built into the Nike Forward Hoodie has sustainability in mind. The raw edge pockets and exposed seams are a testament to Nike's focus on eco-friendly innovation, and the fact that each top is composed of 70 percent recycled content by weight shows the brand's dedication to the service. There's also room for further advancement, as Nike states the sourced recycled materials could potentially include industrial and post-consumer waste in the near future.
What's Less Ideal About the Nike Forward Hoodie?
The fleece material takes some time to fall and break in.
Despite the fleece makeup of this comfortable hoodie, I did notice that it retains more than just heat, especially on the first few wears. While the Nike Forward Hoodie is plenty baggy and doesn't have that next-to-skin feeling, there's a stiffness to the material that leaves the silhouette feeling blocky and rigid at times. I noticed this characteristic particularly in the hood, which held its bowl-like shape even when worn down. This made getting a barbell to rest evenly across my shoulders and running through light drizzles a bit of a chore, at least for the first few wears.
As I began to sweat in the hoodie — and ultimately put it through a few wash cycles — the rigidity began to dwindle as the textile became more broken in. Still, however, the Nike Forward Hoodie doesn't lay as flat as other cotton midlayers — so if you don't like the hard-edged feel of a starchy shirt, make sure you're prepared for the break-in period.
The cut isn't ideal for athletes with longer torsos.
Finding clothes for a 6'2" frame can be a hassle at times, but when it comes to traditional hoodies, I'm usually safe when ordering a large. Unfortunately, though, the Nike Forward Hoodie just creased my midsection, falling right at my waistband and offering up similar coverage to some smaller, tighter workout shirts in my wardrobe. This fit allowed my midsection to pop out at times, particularly during overhead modalities — and while the in-gym warmth wasn't compromised, I'd appreciate a little more material so I'm not showing skin when pressing dumbbells overhead.
While this might not be a dealbreaker for every athlete — I'm sure the latest Nike hoodie fits shorter individuals much better — for those with elongated measurements, it's worth noting. There's no sense investing in the latest textile innovation when you expect a hoodie silhouette and end up with a crop top.
Nike Forward Hoodie: The Verdict
While the fit could definitely be more accommodating to taller individuals, I think Nike has really landed on the next big thing in fitness apparel. The lightweight nature of the hoodie is impressive, and the stats behind the manufacturing process give off that sense of a brand trying to innovate for the better of the planet. The rigidity and sizing can be worked out in the future, too, as this is Nike's first go-around with the material.
The Nike Forward Hoodie is available now for $160. Sure, the price is steep when compared to other workout midlayers, but I challenge you to find a similar garment more forward-thinking and revolutionary than this offering — it surely deserves recognition as one of the best fitness products of 2022.