Cotton hoodies are very popular because they are affordable and comfortable, but what about warmth? Are cotton hoodies warm and good for cold weather?
Cotton is a breathable fabric, but the warmth of a cotton hoodie is dependent on the weight of the cotton fabric used to make the hoodie. Most types of cotton hoodies use either a midweight or a heavyweight cotton. Midweight hoodies are best used only for mild temperatures. For colder conditions, a heavyweight cotton hoodie will be needed.
Midweight cotton hoodies usually have a fabric weight that falls in the 7 to 11 ounce range. Heavyweight cotton hoodies often have a fabric weight of 12 ounces or higher. When shopping for a hoodie, most companies will list the weight of the fabric in the product description.
It is important to understand that even a heavyweight hoodie will not be warm enough on its own to handle severe winter conditions. 100% cotton hoodies are also not water-resistant, and will not be good for wet conditions.
If you need a warmer fabric than cotton, both wool and fleece will provide better warmth than 100% cotton.
However, cotton is often combined with polyester in hoodies to create a fabric blend that is a bit warmer and more durable than 100% cotton. Sometimes these cotton/poly blend hoodies will be treated to make the garment water-resistant. Polyester can also make the garment more wrinkle-resistant. This cotton/poly fabric blend is especially common in many types of work hoodies.
In this article let’s take a closer look at the warmth of cotton hoodies so you have a better idea what types of hoodie might be best for you.
How Warm are Cotton Hoodies?
Most types of cotton hoodies are best used in mild temperatures.
Cotton, in general, isn’t tightly woven, so it has gaps that allow air to pass through. Cotton also has one of the lowest thermal conductivities of any material.
As we discussed above, the warmth of a cotton hoodie is dependent on the weight of the cotton fabric used to make the hoodie. Midweight hoodies are best used only for mild temperatures. For more severe cold, a heavyweight cotton hoodie will be needed.
In general, 100% cotton hoodies don’t trap heat well. Cotton blends, on the other hand, combine cotton with a synthetic material, which often improves heat retention. Cotton blends are less breathable, so hoodies made from cotton blends are great at trapping heat.
One of the most common types of fabric blends used in hoodies is a cotton/polyester blend. Polyester adds durability to the garment, and can improve warmth.
How Does the Weight of the Cotton Hoodie Affect Warmth?
The weight of cotton used in a piece of clothing can have a significant impact on its warmth. Because lighter-weight cotton is breathable and porous, it retains little heat. Heavier cotton material, however, is denser.
In comparison to light cotton materials, heavy cotton materials behave as if they have an extra layer of cotton. As a result, they trap heat much more effectively. In fact, according to one study, the heavier the cotton fabric, the better the thermal insulation.
What Is Considered to Be a “Heavyweight” Cotton Hoodie?
The weight of cotton in a hoodie is measured in ounces per square yard. Heavyweight cotton hoodies are usually 12 ounces or heavier.
So, a “heavyweight” cotton hoodie is made from cotton weighing 12 ounces or more. Such a hoodie will feel thicker and fuller than a regular hoodie. It’ll also be warmer, softer, and longer-lasting.
As a result, heavyweight cotton hoodies are ideal for the colder months.
Are Cotton Hoodies Waterproof?
No, cotton hoodies are not waterproof. Cotton as a fabric is hydrophilic, so it’s neither waterproof nor water-resistant. It absorbs water easily and is difficult to dry.
As a result, cotton hoodies aren’t the most ideal in rainy or humid weather. They’re also not ideal for sweat-inducing activities, such as hiking or mountain climbing.
When a cotton hoodie gets wet, it loses its warmth and doesn’t wick moisture away as quickly as it does in warmer weather.
Hoodies made from cotton blends may be more resistant to moisture. Even so, in a downpour, the moisture will be abundant and will have ample time to seep through the hoodie’s material.
What Types of Material Are Water-Resistant for Hoodies?
There are no hoodie materials that are 100% waterproof. However, some hoodies are water-resistant.
Certain companies will use a cotton/polyester fabric blend for hoodies, and then treat the fabric with a water-resistant spray, which helps the hoodie repel light precipitation. For example, Carhartt Rain Defender hoodies are made this way (mine pictured below).
Another water-resistant hoodie material is nylon. It’s not completely waterproof as some people may think, but it takes a while to absorb moisture. That’s why nylon hoodies are ideal for rainy weather.
How to Add Warmth to a Cotton Hoodie?
We’ve already discussed the idea of choosing a cotton hoodie that uses a heavyweight cotton. But here are a few other things that will add warmth to a cotton hoodie:
- Insulation – Some types of hoodies (especially zip-up hoodies) will have a lining or insulation to add warmth. Common lining materials are Sherpa fleece, flannel, and synthetic insulation like 3M Thinsulate.
- Layered Hood – Some types of cotton hoodies may use extra layering on the hood to add warmth and help trap heat.
- Zip to Chin – If you are buying a zip-front hoodie, choosing one that zips all the way to the chin can help trap heat around the neck. These are sometimes referred to as “scuba” hoods. Here is a look at the zip-to-chin hoodie I own:
Cotton hoodies can keep you warm in mild winter weather. However, as previously discussed, cotton isn’t always the best at trapping heat and can actually do the opposite in wet weather.
As a result, in the coldest winter conditions, a cotton hoodie may not provide the amount of warmth you need. Here are a couple alternative options that may provide more warmth than 100% cotton.
While cotton provides better insulation than wool, wool clothing is typically much thicker. As a result, a thick wool hoodie can provide more warmth than a regular cotton hoodie.
Hoodies made from Merino wool are exceptionally warmer than cotton hoodies without overheating you. They’re also softer, lighter, and more breathable.
In fact, Merino wool is well-known for its excellent breathability, which is why it’s not as sweat-inducing as other types of wool.
Fleece is designed to mimic the properties of wool, which means it’s made to provide warmth in cold weather. As a result, clothing made from fleece is warmer than clothing made from cotton.
In general, fleece hoodies are warmer and more water-resistant than cotton. They also stay warm when wet and wick perspiration better.