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Skwala Apex Hoody

This isn’t your college sweatshirt.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
February 18, 2024
Skwala | Apex Hoody
product description
“Cotton hoodies are heaven when you’re curled up on the couch but leave you cold and clammy on the water. That’s why we built the Apex Hoody–to combine the comfort and functionality of your old hooded sweatshirt with the technology and performance brought to you by the world’s most advanced hard-faced fleece.” – Skwala
company ethos
“Imagine if someone put the same time, thought and effort into designing fishing apparel that you put into finding fish. Someone did; we’re Skwala. We make thoughtful, dependable, comfortable gear–so meticulously built and thoroughly tested that you hardly notice it. Allowing you to focus on more important things, like fishing.” – Skwala

I’m conducting a “gear test” as I write this review. I’m sitting at my kitchen counter, wearing the Skwala Apex Hoody. The thermostat in our house is set at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and my challenge is to be able to finish writing this review before I have to take the hoody off, because I’m sweating so much.

Product story

The Apex Hoody from Skwala is kind of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or wolf clothing with sheep softness, or something like that. The point is, it looks like a hooded sweatshirt. It’s soft and supple like a hooded sweatshirt. But make no mistake, this is technical outerwear that’s a far cry from that reverse-weave cotton sweatshirt with the name of your alma mater splayed across the front.

For just under two hundred bucks, it should be.

But it doesn’t take long to feel the difference between a sweatshirt, or your run-of-the-mill hoody, and this beast. Although Skwala is the new kid on the fly-fishing outerwear block, the people and the product DNA behind this brand are born of the industry with years of perspective and experience. Thus, market reception to all things Skwala has been generally positive, and that certainly describes how I feel about the brand and its products so far. The Apex Hoody is one of my favorites, though I am starting to roast.

Read more about Skwala’s start-up ethos in their “Why Start a Fly Fishing Brand?” post.


Three things you need to know about this piece of gear: 

1. It isn’t cotton, it’s made with Karuishi® Fleece (whatever that is) (“high-volume, two-layer textile with both loft and durability”). It’s soft and supple on the inside, but hard-faced on the exterior, which doesn’t completely repel wind (but it does a pretty good job of that), and it’s even a little bit hydrophobic. I wouldn’t wear it in a car wash, but light snow flurries won’t soak you to the bone. If it does get soaked, since it’s not cotton, it dries out quicker.

2. There are no glues or laminates, so it stretches and breathes, and you’ll appreciate its elasticity.

3. The kangaroo pocket has zippers on both sides, so all the stuff that falls out of your sweatshirt when you bend over to lace your boots–like your phone, wallet, car keys–are safe and sound, assuming you’re smart enough to use the zippers. Bonus: It’s pretty easy in terms of wash and wear, for mud, fish slime, spilling queso dip during the ballgame etc.


I’ve worn this hoody in many situations doing many different things. Obviously, I fish a lot in it. I row my boat and watch others fish while I wear it, and really appreciate the range of motion through the shoulders that a hoody affords, compared to a stiffer jacket when working the sticks. In my mind, if you like it when you row, you’ll like it better when you cast. I shoot shotguns and hunt birds in it. I ski in it. What I don’t usually do is wear it inside and watch television, or write product reviews. I’m starting to bead up, overheat and fade quickly… 


Don’t buy this and think it’s another hoody or sweatshirt. Understand this is technical outerwear, and pretty much anything you want to do outside, in temps between, say 45 and 60 degrees, are wide open.


Super comfortable, warm, versatile.

Technical, breathable fabrics in a non-technical design.


Maybe a bit spendy? Certainly for a sweatshirt, but this isn’t a sweatshirt–it’s a type of jacket to be worn outdoors.

The oversized logo design is a bit much–consumers aren’t walking billboards for your brand. In a world of in-your-face everything, less should definitely be more.

One color choice? We need some camouflage boys, for creeping the two-footers.


A $199 sweatshirt? We think it depends on your perspective…

Craftsmanship and durability

I have beaten this hoody up, left it in the boat dry box for weeks, left it out in the elements overnight, washed and dried it, and nothing is torn, worn, loose or out of place. In that regard, it’s either the most expensive sweatshirt you’ve ever owned, or the best bargain outdoor layer you can find, depending on how you look at it.

  • Price: $199
  • Construction/Materials: 100% Nylon Karuishi® Fleece with water resistant C6 DWR exterior finish. Two-layer, hard-faced fleece throughout for increased durability, comfort and warmth
  • Hood: Adjustable hood features locking drawcords to secure hood in harsh conditions
  • Mobility: Articulated sleeves with gusseted underarms to limit binding and increase mobility when casting
  • Pockets: Zippered kangaroo pocket for gear storage and hand warming
  • Warranty information: Skwala warranty

Skwala warranty.

“We build all our products with the focused mission to deliver you a better day on the water. We stand behind every product we make so that you can be confident that your gear will deliver–hike in it, wade in it, or get rained on in it–your Skwala gear will perform. If for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with the performance of your product, you can return it within 30 days of your receipt.

At Skwala, we pride ourselves on the quality and performance of our products. If any piece of your Skwala gear fails due to a defect in materials or construction, we will repair or replace at the discretion of Skwala for the practical product lifespan.”

The Apex Hoody is off as I now finish writing. Has been for a bit. 

I’m going to call B.S., in an affectionate way, on the promo language from Skwala that says you can wear this performance product on the sofa. This is not an indoor apparel item, at least not for non-reptilians.


That said, I give the hoody a 9.5 out of 10. Throughout the fall, it was my go-to “jacket.” It isn’t on the shelf with all my sweatshirts, it hangs on the peg by the door with my other technical gear.

Now, you might not want a “hoody” as a jacket. You might want to ditch the hood, you might want a zipper front. But if you want a reliably warm, moveable, fishable, outer layer that will also repel a bit of wind, and get you through when the sky spits a little, you will find no better option.

Heck, if you live in the South, this might be your winter jacket. Some of the coldest boat rides I’ve ever endured have been sunrise sprints to the flats in winter or early spring, and this hoody is custom built for that ride.

Likely buyers

Rowing the dory out West in spring or fall? Good for that also. Sitting around the fire at archery elk camp? Check. Working the deck on a Great Lakes sportfishing boat? Sure.

Climbing out of the pool, after your workout, riding the chairlift for a spring skiing session, sitting in a goose pit waiting for the flocks (the darker “Raven” color is good for hunting and fishing), sailing…

I’ve worn the Skwala Apex hoody for all those things, and never had a single regret.

Find the Skwala Apex Hoodie with our trusted partners:

Skwala Apex Hoody man wearing hoody lifestyle shot
Skwala Apex Hoody man wearing hoody lifestyle shot
Skwala Apex Hoody man wearing hoody lifestyle shot
Skwala Apex Hoody man wearing hoody lifestyle shot
Skwala Apex Hoody man wearing hoody lifestyle shot
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