KOTIS SWAGLAB
The Best Full-Zip Hoodies
Allison Buschur   |    March 9, 2022    |    Table of Contents

Introduction
Ahh…sweatshirt weather. If you ask us, we could make a case for sweatshirts year-round – after all, they’re must-haves in any wardrobe. The beloved hoodie is ordinarily part of a layered outfit during crisp, autumn days, but the functionality doesn’t end there. Blue-collar workers are often seen sporting Carhartt’s as part of their worksite uniform. Football fans advertise their preferred team on their chests during their hometown Friday night games. Music lovers commonly flaunt their support for their favorite artists and bands at live shows.

It’s no surprise that the world is still seeking ultimate comfort. What better way than to find comfort in your favorite hoodie? We are all living busy lives these days, and hoodies are the perfect on-the-go outerwear accessory. Is it raining? Grab your hoodie as you venture out on your daily activities. Suddenly chilly outside? Quickly slip on your hoodie. Too warm? Take your hoodie off and wrap it around your waist or shoulders. No matter what the weather conditions, a full-zip hoodie is one of the most popular and versatile clothing options out there.

OUR TOP PICK

Royal Apparel Organic RPET Fleece Hoodie

Perfect combo of sustainability, style, and comfort.
Made from a blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester, this hoodie offers velvety soft fabric and a premium feel at an affordable price. Its strong, wide drawstrings make this the perfect retail hoodie that will pair well with any thoughtful design.

Material: Combed ring spun 50% organic cotton 50% recycled polyester
Colors:

Fleece lovers will value the incredibly soft organic Royal Apparel Fleece hoodie. This was a favorite from the start – from unboxing to our 100th wear, the Royal Apparel hoodie easily stood out as a top pick due to its soft-to-the-touch interior and exterior, attractive color choices, and value. Its strong, wide drawstrings make this the perfect retail hoodie that will pair well with any thoughtful design.

Royal Apparel has been passionate about its made-in-the-USA mission since its inception in the early 90s – with its headquarters in Long Island and production facilities in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Royal Apparel has significantly reduced its carbon footprint with their high-quality, low-impact, and long-lasting apparel. Made from 50% combed ring spun organic cotton and 50% RPET recycled polyester, you can feel confident knowing Royal Apparel has your (and Mother Earth’s) best interests at heart in all their products.

Royal Apparel has created the Organic RPET Fleece in 5 attractive colors: heather ash, heather coal, heather dusk, heather kiwi, and shadow. Pair one of these colors with a subtle screen-printed design and a woven label or patch, and you’ll have your team’s new favorite outerwear accessory.

OUR PREMIUM PICK

Marine Layer® Afternoon Hoodie

This super soft material sourced from Supima Cotton and Micromodal makes the ultimate premium hoodie for any project. By focusing on creating sustainable apparel using responsible materials, Marine Layer is doing their part to minimize their environmental impact. It’s been their mission from the start to make “absurdly soft” clothing so good, you’ll never want to take it off. When it’s finally time to say farewell, Marine Layer offers a garment recycling program.

Material: 47% Tencel, 38% Cotton, 15% Rayon
Colors:

Marine Layer prospers once again with their Afternoon Hoodie. It is no secret that Marine Layer is a favorite here at Kotis, and for good reason – their line of top-notch sustainable apparel is one-of-a-kind. While the Afternoon Hoodie is not as thick as a traditional hoodie, it still promises to do its job of keeping you warm. This hoodie proved to be a great option for all seasons – perfect for those rainy spring days, summer and autumn evenings, and frigid winter temperatures.

Marine Layer offers their Afternoon Hoodie in 3 colors: Asphalt Grey, Black, and Faded Navy. However, if you order more than 144 hoodies, the company offers custom dye to match any Pantone color. Bonus: you can even mix and match styles.

Customers will be pleasantly surprised when they try on anything from the brand as they are all about offering their customers insanely soft clothing with materials you can trust, including Supima Cotton and Micromodal featured in the Afternoon Hoodie.

OUR HEAVIER PICK

Carhartt Midweight Hooded Zip-Front Sweatshirt

A household name and blue-collar favorite, Carhartt, continues to deliver top-notch quality and comfort with this hoodie made from a cotton and polyester blend that you’ll want to keep forever. Each hoodie is branded with the distinctive Carhartt patch on the left front pocket.

Material: 50/50 cotton/poly blend
Colors:

Carhartt continues to deliver in quality and comfort with their Midweight Hooded Zip Sweatshirt. Hoodie lovers will appreciate this thick, rugged hoodie for all their chilly weather activities and work duties. We noticed this one can also be used as a work jacket due to its thickness, 3-pc hood with drawcord closure, and its functional brass zipper. Choose from 5 colors for your next design: black, carbon heather, heather grey, moss, and new navy.

Carhartt started their journey in premium workwear in 1889 with dependability, honesty, and trust in mind. Headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan with manufacturing facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mexico, they employ over 5,000 team members worldwide, all of whom are passionate about supporting the hard workers who have trusted them with high-quality workwear for over 130 years. Although Carhartt was created as a workwear brand (and is still immensely popular among the blue-collar community), its appeal has also reached the likes of celebrities, cowboys, hipsters, and beyond. The brand’s impressive collection of apparel and accessories often rank in top lists for comfort and style as well as their intended benefits of ruggedness and wearability.


TOP PICK

Royal Apparel Organic RPET Fleece Hoodie
Perfect combo of sustainability, style, and comfort
Made from a blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester, this hoodie offers velvety soft fabric and a premium feel at an affordable price. Its strong, wide drawstrings make this the perfect retail hoodie that will pair well with any thoughtful design.

Material: Combed ring spun 50% organic cotton, 50% recycled polyester
Colors:

PREMIUM PICK

Unisex Marine Layer® Afternoon Hoodie

Lightweight. Durable. Definition of afternoon delight.
This super soft material sourced from Supima Cotton and Micromodal makes the ultimate premium hoodie for any project. By focusing on creating sustainable apparel using responsible materials, Marine Layer is doing their part to minimize their environmental impact. It’s been their mission from the start to make “absurdly soft” clothing so good, you’ll never want to take it off. When it’s finally time to say farewell, Marine Layer offers a garment recycling program.

Material: 47% Tencel, 38% Cotton, 15% Rayon
Colors:

OUR HEAVIER PICK

Carhartt Midweight Hooded Zip-Front Sweatshirt

Ideal combo of durability, versatility, and comfort
A household name and blue-collar favorite, Carhartt, continues to deliver top-notch quality and comfort with this hoodie made from a cotton and polyester blend that you’ll want to keep forever. Each hoodie is branded with the distinctive Carhartt patch on the left front pocket.

Material: 50/50 cotton/poly blend
Colors:

Other Products We Tested

For this SwagLab, we tested 13 unisex full-zip hoodies over the course of 5 months, ranging from cotton/poly blends to fleece blends. There’s not one-size-fits-all approach to selecting the perfect hoodie as it is all based on personal preference. A naturally warm person may gravitate toward a French terry hoodie due to its cooler material, whereas someone who is always cold may trust a heavier fleece hoodie to keep them warm. The factors we considered as we determined our top hoodies were:

Aesthetics – Overall look and style. Perhaps the most obvious question we like to ask when choosing the best products for our needs is, “If I were in a store searching for a hoodie, which of these options would I choose first?” However, as the saying goes “never judge a book by its cover.” The same can be said about apparel. What we may have initially thought would be a top contender in our discovery didn’t make the cut after we wore them for months, and vice versa. Some of our testers really enjoy mid- to heavy weight fleece options, so the Marine Layer Afternoon Hoodie wasn’t originally on their list due to its lighter weight. However, once they tried it on and wore it around in different weather conditions and occasions (including a freezing flight), it quickly became the top premium option.

Colors – We’re always considering how many style and color options we have available for our clients so they can be confident their brand will integrate with the products they love most. Our top hoodies all have several common color choices that will complement unique designs, and Marine Layer even offers Pantone matching for larger orders, so there’s a wide range of options for those who need more flexibility.

Within the group of hoodies we tested was the Bella + Canvas Sponge Fleece Full-Zip Hoodie, which offers a collection of 17 solid and heathered colors. The B+C sponge hoodie exceeded all our expectations in softness, comfort, style, color choices, and functionality; thus, would make an excellent addition to any brand’s product line.

Construction/Fit – Durability/functionality. Are these hoodies meant to just keep you warm, or can you perform manual labor without fear of ripping them up or quickly tarnishing their value? Some hoodies we tested were simply not to be trusted in any strenuous activity – instead, they were just meant to keep you warm. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you’re more likely to keep a hoodie longer if its higher quality and can withstand any activity.

We noticed the Royal Apparel and Marine Layer hoodies fit true-to-size – although they are both listed as a unisex fit, the women testers appreciated how well both options fit. The Royal Apparel’s hoodie is available in adult XS through 3XL and the Marine Layer hoodie is available in adult XS through 2XL.

While the Unisex Carhartt Midweight Hoodie checked every box for quality, construction, comfort, and style, it does run large, so keep that in mind as you order for your team or fans. Sizing is available in adult small through 4XL.

Hood – Ideally, the hood should sit above your eyes so you can use it practically when you need head protection. Several of the hoods we tested covered our eyes; thus, proved to be impractical for use in certain situations. Our top pick, the Royal Apparel hoodie, had a slightly larger hood than preferred, but it still beat all other hoodies in terms of quality, style, softness, and overall fit.

Zipper – Is the zipper sturdy and functional? Does it get stuck often? More than half of the full-zip hoodies we tested were made with YKK zippers, which are undoubtedly the gold standard of zippers. Short for Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha, the YKK Group is responsible for making half of the world’s zippers. What makes them so good? Many companies praise YKK zippers for their self-lubrication, self-locking design, and square-tooth technology, all factors that promise reliable zipping for years to come.

Pockets – We love zip hoodies because most offer 2 smaller front pockets instead of the traditional kangaroo pouches common in pullover hoodies. We tested the functionality of each of the pockets to ensure whatever you choose to carry with you in your hoodie is going to stay put and will be large enough to fit common items: cell phone, wallet, snacks, etc.

Affordability – While the typically hoodie does have a slightly higher price point than a tee or drinkware item, most often, purchasing a hoodie is worth the extra dough. With that being said, when testing all 13 hoodies, we also kept the price in mind to ensure we were offering more affordable options. Even though our top choices feel uber-premium, you can still find them at a decent price – win-win. If you’re looking for a budget option for a gift or kit, the Unisex Port & Company® 7.8oz Full-Zip Hooded Sweatshirt is a great choice due to its heavier construction and multitude of trending colors.

Wash/Dry Quality – Do the hoodies maintain their original shape and color after their first wash or 100th wash? Does the quality hold up when you take them out of the dryer? Is lint piling up in the dryer vent? Naturally, hoodies are meant to stand the test of time, so if they aren’t holding their quality after their first journey through the washer and dryer, they won’t last long outside either. The American Apparel Flex Fleece washed and dried well, and there were no signs of piling upon removing it from the dryer each time we ran it through a new cycle, which is always a pleasant find as you’re cleaning out the dryer vent.

The Royal Apparel hoodie quite possibly came out of the washer and dryer softer than when we put it in. Whenever the weather hints at being even the slightest bit chilly, we’re reaching for this one because it promises to leave us with those warm and fuzzy feelings, both inside and out.

Our Research

Throughout our 5-month testing period, each hoodie was worn and washed regularly and judged on look, feel, fit, washability, functionality, and inclusivity (color and size options); therefore, this test was more subjective than most of our past SwagLab categories.

As we reviewed our selection of hoodies, we were focused on finding options that positively impacted the planet. Sustainability has grown increasingly important over the past several years. As the interest in loving Mother Earth rises, companies have a responsibility to do better for their consumers and the environment. Therefore, we’ve been on a mission to find high-quality products that will also benefit our planet. Beyond that, we often research each brand’s corporate responsibility actions. We feel good about supporting companies who are actively protecting the planet. Another incredible sustainable hoodie option we tested was the Unisex Alternative Apparel Rocky Eco-Fleece Zip Hoodie, made from 6.25% recycled polyester and 6.25% recycled cotton, and offered in 13 colors.


Fit

Opt for a comfortable fit that is neither too baggy nor too tight. You should be able to breathe and move freely in your hoodie. Ideally, the hoodie won’t bulge around the stomach area and should be tight enough to maintain its shape.

Length – A perfectly fit hoodie should sit just above the zipper of your pants; however, this is all based on personal preference. If you’re looking for a neatly fit hoodie, check the size chart and order accordingly. When the weather is crisp, many enjoy being engulfed in their hoodies for maximum comfort, so if you like a more relaxed fit, size up.

Sleeves – A properly fitted hoodie should have sleeves that sit right at your wrist, like how a cuff of a shirt would sit.

Hood – If your sweatshirt has a hood, it should cover your head and sit nicely at the top of your forehead, instead of covering your eyes. The drawstrings will be used to form the hoodie to your unique head shape, offering a comfortable fit for any need.

Why gift a hoodie?

There aren’t too many apparel items that are as versatile as the hoodie. Light enough to be kept around your hip when needed, but also extremely useful with exterior (and potentially interior) pockets. Although there are multiple styles of sweatshirts on the market, our biggest sellers are the full-zipped hoodies, in large part because they’re perfect for all year, more layered/flexible in outfits, and can also be worn as a jacket when needed. Hoodies are also perceived as highly valuable among fans, but they’re quite affordable when compared to jackets or other outwear items.

People use apparel as their own personal (and ever-changing) billboard – it’s the perfect way to show off important causes and events, while simultaneously uniting those with similar interests. We as humans tend to form attachments to brands that not only align with our personal beliefs, but also what makes us feel good.

Recognize your people with a thoughtful kit. Hoodies are the star of a well-crafted kit.

Royal Apparel Examples

Delphix Gradient Hoodies

Earthjustice Staff Gifts

Marine Layer Examples

Spokane BLM Veterans Wildland Fire

TuSimple Holiday Gift

Carhartt Examples

Earthjustice Staff Gifts

Earthjustice Staff Gifts

OUTERWEAR

2nd
largest swag
category

67%
of consumers own
promotional outwear

6,100+
impressions generated
over it’s lifespan

16mo
the average lifespan of promotional outwear

Fully Custom

If you’re seeking a more unique option for your brand, let’s build the ultimate Kotis Made hoodie together. Expand your horizons with custom colors, pockets, panels, patches, drawstrings, zippers, and much more.

We tested a brushback Kotis Made hoodie and found it was comparable to other heavier-weight hoodies in its category. With its heavy-duty construction, awesome hood-liner design, and interior and exterior feel, this will be a hoodie you can wear for years.

Fabric

Brush Back
What you’d expect a hoodie to feel like with a plush, soft inside.

Fabric Content
60% Cotton / 40% Polyester

COLORS

Loop Back
A more technical feeling material with a looped terry style inside.

Fabric Content
60% Cotton / 35% Polyester / 5% Spandex

COLORS

Lightweight Rib Knit
A ribbed light weight material for warmer months or climates.

Fabric Content
33% Cotton / 62% Polyester / 5% Spandex

COLORS

Mélange
Our mélange fabric is a soft lightweight tricot that features 2 different contrasting thread colors woven to give a dynamic heathered effect.

Fabric Content
50% Cotton / 45% Polyester / 5% Spandex

COLORS

Why Trust Kotis

e’ve been decorating and shipping hoodies for over a decade. Our goal has always been to create the best swag for our clients, and we’re happy to work with you in that endeavor. Our product testers included Allison and Chantelle who researched and reviewed all hoodies for nearly a year and gathered feedback from other sweatshirt enthusiasts within Kotis.

We’ve distributed hundreds of thousands of hoodies and utilized the feedback from our clients, combined with our testing to create these recommendations. These are not endorsed by any supplier; we simply want to help make your life easier when choosing merch. Let’s do swag together.