Wednesday, February 17, 2021

UA IntelliKnit Balaclava Hoodie Review

Article by Jeff Valliere and Jeff Beck

UA IntelliKnit Balaclava Hoodie ($200)


Jeff V:  The Under Armour IntelliKnit Balaclava Hoodie is a unique layering piece made of a stretchy woven body mapped knit construction that can be used as a stand alone layer or midlayer with a built in hood and integrated balaclava.

Tech, Spec, Materials:
  • High performance yarns provide breathable warmth without the weight

  • Body-mapped knit construction for fast dry times

  • Built in balaclava style face mask with engineered mesh for easy breathing

  • Ribbed bottom hem and ½ glove cuff construction


Jeff V:  The fit is “form fitting” (read snug), as the body mapped knit material has a taut stretch to it.  

I got a medium (I am 5’9” / 145 lbs) and fit is appropriate I believe, but you will be made very aware if you have eaten just a LITTLE too much before your run. 

Room for layering is minimal, meaning 1 very thin baselayer that does not bunch at all.

I like the idea of a hood with integrated balaclava, but find it to be a little limiting and confining, as the fit is very tight and the opening is only large enough for your eyes.  

Wearing glasses, it is tough to manage the balaclava to prevent fogging, so I do my best to avoid wearing glasses to avoid this issue.  

The hood is very snug, so good for keeping out drafts, but I prefer a bit more room to wear a beanie, glasses and to be able to manage wireless bluetooth headphones (all problematic in this instance).

Jeff B: 100% agree with Jeff, except I wasn’t wild on going with a baselayer underneath, that’s how form fitting it is. Granted, I’m 5’11” / 225 lbs in an XL, but I think it’s the right fit, just different cut/body type. I’m still working on my go-to for layering during cold runs (I’ve started keeping a log of temps/distance/what I wore/how it worked, that’s helped some), and due to the fit this doesn’t slot in cleanly as a midlayer. It’s definitely a baselayer for me, but only for the coldest days.

Jeff is also right, the balaclava is a great idea, but as a glasses wearer it can be problematic. I found myself fighting it constantly during my runs because of how much fog I encountered. It also took some finessing to get over my head and ears. Ultimately I found that I was able to wear my headphones (I use one of the Aftershokz models that doesn’t actually go in the ears - but experienced some interesting reverb under the hood).


Jeff V:  Despite the unique specificity of fit, performance is good, ideal use being very cold temperatures.  Anything over 25 degrees and I am cooking, as the Intelliknit Balaclava Hoodie is quite thick, but it is also breathable and dries quickly, so ideal for cold to very cold temperatures.  There is only one pocket at the small of the back, just large enough for a car key, chapstick or gel. The ½ glove construction is handy.  

If it is cold enough for me to reach for this layering piece, I’ll certainly be wearing gloves or perhaps mittens, which slide over the built in half glove easily.

Jeff B: Again, I’m with Mr. Valliere. This isn’t one of those “it’s kind of cold, I’ll throw this on and be just fine” type of layers, this is only in play during freezing temperatures but when the temperatures drops it does its job very well. Almost too well. My first run in it was the morning following a pretty big snow, and it was a little off-putting for this Phoenix native to run through the snow and not be cold at all. I didn’t bake inside, and was very impressed with its breathability, especially considering how dense it is. On subsequent, and even colder runs, I put a midlayer over it, and might as well have been in my own breathable cocoon. 


Jeff V:  I prefer looser, less confining items of clothing for running, and for mid layers specifically as the Intelliknit is intended to be,  with a fit which is versatile and easier to layer under.  Not necessarily baggy, but just enough to not really be focused on how it fits, I just want my running gear to work with me and essentially go unnoticed.  

The Intelliknit Balaclava Hoodie however is just too snug for my preference, as I am always aware of it’s snugness and it feels a bit stiff and restrictive.  It is difficult to put on and take off and the hood/balaclava, while a great idea, is in my opinion, limiting and confining.  It is very warm however and breathes well, so if you don’t mind the form fit, it can be a great option. 

Jeff B: This is the cold weather version of the “nuclear option”. There’s no half-measures here, it is a unique item of clothing that will absolutely keep you warm when temperatures are in the “Very Cold” to “Extremely Cold” range, and I’d even spend some time outside in it when it’s truly miserable. 

However, it feels overdone, almost like it was designed for the folks that spend the winter at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. And if you wear it when things are cold, but not *that* cold, it’s a lot of work to get on and take off, and you will likely overheat. As a newbie to t freezing temps, I don’t mind that, it’s kind of like a safety net - I know I won’t get too cold while wearing it, but I can definitely see how seasoned cold weather runners would prefer something with a little more nuance. 

If winter layering is waging war on the cold, this isn’t a strategic strike as much as it is dropping asteroids from space. Which is probably another place this piece would do well - and maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Expanse lately, but it definitely looks and feels like something the folks on Mars would wear (and the Belters would probably steal). Don’t pick this up to compliment aspects of your winter wardrobe - make it your go-to when going outside is a little stupid. Now you’ll be just fine.

Tester Profiles

Jeff V.  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Jeff B. is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December 2019 he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received fly RTR or the author for this review from Under Armour. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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