simms1                              Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD

My usual “middle layer” before I adopted the ABC (anything but cotton) philosophy when choosing cold weather layers was a hooded sweatshirt. A well broken in hoody is as comfortable as a pair of old blue jeans, as rugged, but wedged between an E.C.W.C.S. base layer and the Clam Ice Armor parka I wear everyday I’m fishing the Great Lakes from March to May, I needed something else.

So when Simms – an industry leader in the fishing wear industry – came out with their own version of the hoody, called the Exstream BiComp, I had to try one out.

It’s called Exstream, I guess, because it’s extremely good looking, extremely warm, well made and extremely comfortable. It’s called BiComp because, well, I don’t know other than it’s a catchy Simms word.

The “Bi” part could be because the designer used two types of materials and construction. The top part of the body, the hood and the sleeves are made with low bulk, quilted fabric encasing PrimaLoft Gold insulation. The lower half of the shirt – the part which would be inside a pair of waders or under the “bib” part of my Ice Armor outer bibs – is made from a stretchy, fleece material – less insulation and bulk where less doesn’t matter or isn’t wanted.

Unlike a traditional hoody, it doesn’t have a kangaroo pouch on the belly – a feature nearly useless when wearing with waders or bibs – but it does have a deep, zippered, easily accessible chest pocket, perfect for a smartphone or point and shoot camera.

Did I mention light weight? It’s about half the weight of a good cotton hoody with twice (or more) the warmth. The only downside is they don’t come with your favorite team logo emblazoned across the chest. No biggy, after all, it’s a middle layer.

The BiComp Hoody and other Simms quality products are available in select outlets (primarily fly-fishing oriented retailers) as well as online direct from

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