If you’re reading this review, you’re probably looking for a shoulder season/layering piece that can withstand variable temperatures and conditions. Now, I don’t like to toot my own horn, but my layering game is solid. In fact, I’m fairly confident that I’ve all but mastered my season-by-season approach to layering. On a hot summer day, I start off with a tank top and a light moisture-wicking button down for sun protection. On a cold winter day, I work my way up from a long sleeve synthetic or natural fiber base layer to a vest and hardshell for added warmth and wind/weather protection. And on a chilly spring or cool fall day, you’ll likely find me in a light baselayer, vest and softshell. In the end, whatever the season, I always bring multiple layers. Weather variability in the Rockies runs the gamut and the likelihood of wind, precipitation, and warm hot sunshine all in the same day is relatively high, so it just makes sense to prepare yourself to handle it all. For me, this time of year, that means having a solid mid/outer layer. If it’s not dumping snow I want to be able to have a jacket that can keep me warm without being bulky. So when Stio released their Women’s Kita Fleece Hooded Jacket, I was stoked to check it out.
Pros: The Kita is considered a technical midlayer fleece, and thanks to its construction – featuring 100 percent Polyester Karushi HD Fleece – it’s not only lightweight (weighing in at 21 ounces), it also seals in body heat and blocks light precipitation and wind really, really well. I appreciated the arm zip to stash a small snack (chocolate-covered espresso beans) and lip balm as well as the breathable mesh backing on the full zip pockets. The thumb holes are also a great feature. Unlike a sleeve with a simple hemmed slit, Stio took the Kita to the next level by overlapping the main sleeve fabric over the thumb hole. This ensures that you can use your thumb to its full potential while still having protection from the elements. And the fit? Spot on. Standing 5’4” and weighing around 135 pounds, I tend to be somewhere between a women’s size small or medium, which I affectionately refer to as “ssmmedium”, but the medium fit perfectly, and it has room to spare, but still allows me to wear it as a midlayer under a down jacket or shell.
Cons: For those of you looking for a fully adjustable fleece/midlayer/cool weather outer layer, you may want to keep looking. Though the fit is great, the jacket lacks fine-tuning options like an adjustable hem, hood, or sleeves/wrists.
Where I took it: I put the Kita to the test around southern Colorado. I wore it while mountain biking on an incredibly windy day on trails near Poncha Pass (8000+ feet) and on a bluebird but breezy day while hiking trails in Penitente Canyon.