When it comes to picking out the perfect sweatshirts, hoodies, and outer layers, strategy is the name of the game. There’s a lot to consider: Are you looking for something cozy to lounge in? Or is your focus on performance—without sacrificing style?
Here, we’ve rounded up the best sweatshirts, hoodies, and layers for 2022 that will keep you toasty and comfortable through any level of activity. To see our picks from the 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards—and find out what exactly it is that makes these tops so great—read on below.
What to Look for When Shopping for Sweatshirts, Hoodies, and Layers
In order for a hoodie or technical layer to be worth buying, it needs to work—which usually means it needs to keep you warm without overheating. Sweatshirts, which are more often made out of cotton—a less breathable and non-wicking fabric—are better off for warming up, cooling down, hanging out, or doing low-intensity exercise where you aren’t planning on sweating. If you are looking for a sweatshirt to wear while you work up a sweat, make sure you’re prioritizing fabric in addition to comfort and style, though both comfort and style are also important factors to consider, Louise Green, certified personal trainer, founder of Big Fit Girl, and president of the Size Inclusive Training Academy, tells SELF.
Hoods are awesome–they can help you retain heat and protect you from the elements without adding too much weight or fabric to your look. When you try on a sweatshirt or pullover with a hood, put on the hood as well, and practice moving around in it, Lauren Leavell, certified personal trainer and barre instructor, suggests. You need to make sure the hood is just as functional as the rest of the top, too. Also consider whether the hood is adjustable, which comes in handy for trapping in heat in cooler temperatures. Pockets and zippers are also helpful features, as are cooling vents.
If you’re planning on wearing the top as an outer layer, make sure it has room for additional clothing underneath, Kaila DeRienzo, certified personal trainer and certified run coach, advises. In the same vein, if you’re hoping to layer even further on top of the shirt, make sure it’s not too bulky. You may need to size up or down from your usual size based on how you plan on wearing the top—try on a variety of sizes if need be, and be open to the idea that with layering tops, your sizing may be different than usual.
Finally, consider whether the item is portable. For Leavell, this is crucial. If you decide to take it off, can you easily tie it around your waist or stuff it in your backpack? Does it add too much extra weight when you’re not wearing it? Or is it easy to throw on and off as needed?
How We Picked the Best Sweatshirts, Hoodies, and Layers
The sweatshirts, hoodies, and layers considered for the 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards had to meet our submission guidelines, which you can read here. In addition to setting parameters around when items launched, we also introduced an inclusive sizing eligibility requirement.We eliminated products from brands that haven’t displayed a true commitment to size inclusivity, meaning all of our winning products are from companies that carry some or all of their inventory in at least a size 20 or above, with a few exceptions from maternity-wear brands. (This year, we worked to ensure maternity and/or postpartum winners were selected in each category as well.) For specific items that lack a full range of sizes, we’ve provided similar, more inclusive alternatives. We also considered a brand’s commitment to size inclusivity via its public messaging, as well as the concrete actions the brand has taken toward having a more inclusive product line.
Brands that met the above criteria were able to submit products for consideration. Of the 500-plus products submitted, our judges—a group of more than 40 people consisting of SELF staffers, fitness professionals, and influencers—tested over 300 products. Each product was tested against its respective SELF Certified criteria, which you can find summarized above and in greater detail here. Testers wrote extensive reviews and rated each product. Those who came out on top—all listed below—were awarded a SELF Certified seal.
See the seven best sweatshirts, hoodies, and layers for 2022 below, and check out the rest of our 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards here.
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