We tried the Swiss Army knife of hoodies, made in South Africa, and we love all its features – even if we’ll never use them all

Business Insider SA
Photo Caryn Caboz.
  • South African indie-clothing company Youneek has come out with the most versatile hoodies we have seen.
  • The hoodie is in all senses a Swiss Army knife, packed with 27 different features – many of which we want, though we'll never actually use them.
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A South African clothing company has brought out the most versatile hoodie we have seen, a veritable Swiss Army knife packed with features we love – even if we'll never use them all. 

Made by Youneek, the hoodie is part of a range of quirky, extraordinary, fun and adventurous clothing including everything from underwear to braai aprons. The clothes are made locally at its founder, Jaen Roussou’s home.

The Blue Crane Hoodie Elite gives outdoors types a smorgasbord of hidden pockets and handy outdoor gizmos to play with - all packed into one jacket. 

I tested the hoodie under a variety of weather conditions from cold nights out in a quiver tree forest in the empty expanse of the Karoo, to rain and fog on the top of Lion’s Head.

The hoodie proved to be extremely warm and comfortable and makes for a perfect travel jacket whether you are planning a trip to the Karoo or to visit the northern hemisphere in the middle of Winter.

The assortment of 27 features range from bottle opener zip-heads to hidden lens cleaners – which are really cool tools to have on you.

Image Youneek.

My favourite was the jacket’s built-in facemask.

It not only saves me from buying 'buffs' that I constantly misplace, but is great for cool mornings up on a mountain or a night out photographing star trails. It also makes you look like a ninja, which I am totally down with.

This inside lining of the hoodie is super comfortable.

Jay Caboz
Photo Jay Caboz.

The hood is lined with Mongolian fleece which is so soft you don’t need a pillow. I found myself more than once easily drifting off to sleep on rocks and other hard surfaces.

If you get too hot the hoodie can be folded into a bag, which is built into the back. 

Selling for R969 it comes off as extremely affordable for what you get.

Compared with puff jackets its price comes off much cheaper and offers the bonus of it being waterproof material. The inside on the body is lined with 160 gram cotton which if I were to compare it in terms of warmth, I would put it at the same warmth level as a 600-fill power down jacket - the type of jackets that sell for R1,999.

It is, however, not as compactable as the puff jackets.

Which makes it quite a challenge to squeeze into your camera bag, when you have limited space being fully loaded with gear. 

There were some features which I found strange like the 250ml foldable water bottle - I took it off within the first couple of wears and didn’t put it back on.

It holds the equivalent of a glass of water, or very small bottle of water, which for me isn't nearly enough. I usually carry at a minimum 500ml, even on short hikes. You never know how long you are going to be up on a mountain, and getting lost with a mere cup of water is not ideal. (Warning: the video contains a cat photobomb.

Secondly, the water bottle clips in an awkward location for walking. It makes a racket when empty and when filled it knocks your knees when hiking uphill. Logically the bottle should be kept on your back where it won’t bump around.

The hoodie is not light by any stretch of the imagination and can get quite heavy if you are climbing Lions Head.

While it will never be able to compete with the lightness of puff jackets, I didn't expect it to be so heavy.  It more than makes up for that in durability, comfort and pocket space. You also don’t feel like you need to walk gingerly past every thorny bush you come across in case you blow a goose-down panel.

A final bugbear was the ‘crane beak’ hood that blocks your vision.

The peak of the hood is stylised after the beak of the Blue Crane. While the design is cool and I feel awesome looking like I’ve come straight out a video game like Assassins Creed, functionally the hood tends to slip over your head and block your vision. 

Verdict: a bargain at the price.

The hoodie gives you all the variety you would expect from a Swiss Army knife of hoodies. Like most utility knives you’ll get some strange utensils you’ll never use, but the tools you do like more than make up for it.  

At R969 it is a bargain and you are getting way more than what you should for that price. Plus you’ll wear it and feel like a ninja.

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