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The Best Zip-Up Hoodies for Layering Beneath a Heavier Coat

More practical than pullovers, these open at the front to let cool air in, but only when you need it.

collage of a man wearing a black zip up hoodie with two other hoodies on each side of him

The zip-up hoodie is the convertible of clothes — like if an all-terrain SUV came with a soft top if that makes sense. They boast the same hard-wearing capabilities as pullover hoodies (aka ones without zippers), but they come with their own temperature-regulating technology (a zipper).

They're also arguably a little more adult. The zipper, while sometimes a little annoying, especially at the neck, breaks up the blockiness of a big pullover hoodie. It's a trimmer silhouette as long it's the right size. But that isn't the only perk.

Why Wear a Zip-Up Instead of a Pullover?

If you overheat, you won't need to wiggle your way out of your heavyweight hoodie, lifting up your undershirt, ruffling your hair and dislodging glasses or AirPods along the way. That's a shortlist of not-so-serious problems, but when you're bundled up without room, time, or the green light to get undressed just so you don't drown in your own sweat, having the option to undo your front proves essential.

They're also the ideal "extra." If you're dressed up, for example, but fear you'll be cold, you can tuck a compact zip-up into your bag and its open front lets you put it on more easily when it's eventually needed.

How to Layer a Zip-Up Hoodie

You can obviously wear it as a top layer, but doing so requires an eye for fit, fullness, and fashionability. Finding one that will be as flattering as it is comfortable shouldn't be a futile fight, though. Plenty of the options below work as top layers, but many are mid or even base ones, too.

In order to layer a zip-up hoodie, it needs to be true to size — not oversized nor too slim. It needs to fit underneath another garment — a denim jacket, most commonly — but still give you room to breathe (and move your torso and lift your arms over your head). Try wearing it on top of a thermal shirt, which is as thin as a T-shirt but far warmer. That takes the load off your top layer, making a denim jacket just as appropriate in November as it is in June.

How We Tested

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Evan Malachosky

I've seen just about every single one of these hoodies, either in the store on the backs of friends and colleagues or in my own closet. I've spent months on end with a few, feeling how they change with wear and a handful of washes, as well as when they feel inferior to others I've enjoyed more.

I gauged whether the sizes felt true to what they're labeled as, whether the construction met my standards and, most importantly, whether I was comfortable in mine, no matter the situation.

Best overall Zip-Up Hoodie
American Giant Carolina Midweight Full Zip
Best upgrade Zip-Up Hoodie
Flint and Tinder 10-Year Hoodie
Best Affordable Zip-Up Hoodie
Gildan Heavy Blend 8 oz. Full-Zip Hoodie
Now 47% off
Best Zip-Up Hoodie Under $100
Buck Mason Interloop Zip-Up Sweatshirt
Best Under-the-Radar Zip-Up Hoodie
Asket Zip Hoodie
Best Mall Find Zip-Up Hoodie
Abercrombie & Fitch Oversized Zip Hoodie
Best Reverse Weave Zip-Up Hoodie
Todd Snyder Midweight Full Zip Hoodie
Tracksmith Trackhouse Zip Sweatshirt
Best Heavyweight Zip-Up Hoodie
Les Tien Heavyweight Zip Core Hoodie
Carhartt Midweight Hooded Zip Front Sweatshirt
Marine Layer Afternoon Full Zip Hoodie
Best Athletic Zip-Up Hoodie
Nike Sportswear Club Fleece Full-Zip Hoodie
Best Retro Zip-Up Hoodie
The Real McCoy's Ball Park Full Zip Hooded Sweatshirt
Outclass French Terry Zip Up Hoodie
Reigning Champ Full Zip Hoodie
Benzak Denim Developers BS-10 Zip-Up Hoodie
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