Product Deep Dive: KUHL Aktivator Hoody Jacket

We’re all looking for the perfect jacket. The quiver killer. The do-it-all, space-saving jacket you can throw in your suitcase or backpack for any trip.

The KUHL Aktivator Hoody can be that jacket for you. It’s stuffed with synthetic insulation that has the warmth of down, and it feels softer than fleece against your skin. This jacket can be the only adventure hoody you need for years to come.

KUHL Aktivator hike

Meet the KUHL Aktivator Jacket.

The Aktivator is different in that it contains 3 different weights of stretchy insulation and melds multiple styles of protection into one versatile jacket. It has thermal mapping technology to keep you warm where you need it and cool where you don’t — all within a lightweight, packable, and flexible package. Plus, it’s available with or without a hood.

See the men's KUHL Aktivator Hoody See the women's KUHL Aktivator Hoody

KUHL Aktivator Hoody Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 17 oz Lightweight for something as durable, stretchy, and versatile as this.
Type Hoody Made for shoulder season and colder situations
Material Mix of Polyester and Nylon, with 3 different synthetic insulation weights Adaptive while allowing freedom of movement.
Zippers YKK coated metal. Industry-standard means the zippers won’t get stuck.
Pockets 5 Secure mesh pockets with fabric top flaps
Pocket Placement 2 chest pockets, 2 hand pockets, 1 interior pocket Everything can be exactly where you need it when you need it.
Windproof Yes The jacket is windproof, which is great for retaining warmth.
Waterproof No The jacket is water-resistant, meaning it would function well as a softshell-type layer, but you’ll want a rain shell for very wet days.
Fit Right on Order your regular size.
Breathability Excellent Underarm AEROKNIT panels offer great ventilation and stretch.
Manufacturer Warranty KUHL  guarantees the quality and performance of its products. KUHL guarantees all of its products to be free of defects in both materials and workmanship.
Retail Price $239.00 Competitive against similar synthetic and down-insulated jackets.

See the men's KUHL Aktivator Hoody See the women's KUHL Aktivator Hoody

The KUHL Aktivator is available with or without a hood in multiple designs for men and women.

Unique Features of KUHL Aktivator Hoody

What’s unique about the KUHL Aktivator Jacket and Hoody is the hyperfocus on temperature regulation and mobility in its design. The synthetic insulation that keeps you warm has also been engineered to stretch with you, to move as you move. This stretchy insulation offers excellent mobility so that you don’t feel restrained during your active outdoor pursuits.

KUHL Aktivator two

That’s two KUHL jackets right there.

Thermal Mapping Technology

The most unique feature of the Aktivator Hoody is that it has 3 different weights of synthetic insulation. The garment seems to sense where you need warmth and where you don’t — the thermal mapping technology incorporated into the garment is not to be overlooked. Without a doubt, this jacket will keep you warm when you need it but allow you to cool down and dry out once you start to build up a sweat on a hard uphill hike.


The KUHL Aktivator is a good option to replace your aging jacket. It is packable and light yet more comfortable and stylish than most other insulated jackets. The softness of the garment serves well where others fail. It can function as a casual garment or a hiking hoody.


I found it useful hiking in the Wasatch, climbing in the shade, and even for more casual dog walks. So far, it has stood up to dog claws and rubbing against granite, and still recieved compliments on date night. It’s served great during capricious fall weather, and I’m curious to see how it does in the winter. 

How the KUHL Aktivator Hoody Compares to other Jackets

The category of synthetic insulated jackets is quite expansive, though there are a few standouts. Here’s how the KUHL Aktivator compares to the top of the pack.

KUHL Aktivator Hoody vs. Patagonia Micro Puff

These jackets have two different goals in mind: the Micro Puff is a fine choice for ultralight backpacking, while the Aktivator is a better all-around jacket for everyday life — it’s softer and has more versatility going from forest to city. The choice is pretty clear, depending on what you want in a jacket. If every ounce counts, go with the Micro Puff, but if comfort, warmth, practicality, and style are more important, the KUHL Aktivator is the clear winner.

KUHL Aktivator Hoody vs. The North Face ThermoBall Super Insulated Hoodie

Similar to the Micro Puff, The North Face ThermoBall is a supremely packable, ultralightweight hoodie with synthetic insulation. It’s a great choice if you’re wanting to go as lightweight as possible, but it’s far less durable than the KUHL Aktivator Hoody, and it’s not nearly as versatile. The KUHL Aktivator will keep you warmer, protect you from wind and light rain, and can hold its own when brushed up against a reaching tree branch — the Thermoball falls short in all of these categories, and it doesn’t look as slick, either.

KUHL Aktivator Hoody vs. Arc’teryx Atom LT Insulated Hoodie

The Arc’teryx Atom is the closest competitor to the KUHL Aktivator on this list. On the surface, the designs are fairly similar. The Atom has decent insulation, a water-resistant and durable exterior, and good overall styling — just like the KUHL Aktivator. However, the Arc’teryx Atom costs more, doesn’t have as many useful pockets, and only utilizes a single weight of insulation as opposed to the KUHL Aktivator’s 3 different weights that comprise its body mapping technology. You simply get more for your money with KUHL.

See the men's KUHL Aktivator Hoody See the women's KUHL Aktivator Hoody

Who is KUHL?

KUHL is a clothing brand that began in 1983 and is based in Salt Lake City. Its mission is to make high-quality outdoor clothing that combines the best of science and style. The Aktivator is evidence of the brand’s continued commitment to making well-thought-out products that fit in at the office and on the mountain.

KUHL Aktivator hoody uphill

This is KUHL.

See the KUHL Aktivator Hoody and learn more about KUHL.

KUHL sponsors this post. Affiliate Policy: This article may contain affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.

Charles Miller

Charles Miller is a writer, digital marketer, and outdoor enthusiast. He's led trips in Tennessee and worked at outdoor education places in Utah and North Carolina. He's originally from San Antonio, but currently lives in Salt Lake City for the hiking, climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing, and skiing. He is a perpetual optimist who loves thinking about the role of public lands in America and the writings of Wendell Berry.

2 responses to “Product Deep Dive: KUHL Aktivator Hoody Jacket

  1. Is the garment weight truly 27oz? I’m finding references on third party sites with 16oz and 17oz, and can’t get Kuhl to respond.

    1. Hi Dan. The approximate weight is 17 ounces, however that varies depending on the fit size of the jacket and whether you get the Hoody version or the standard Aktivator jacket.

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