Choosing the Best Custom Hoodies: 9 Expert Tips

Choosing the Best Custom Hoodies: 9 Expert Tips

 Choosing the Best Custom Hoodies: 9 Expert Tips   


When it comes to picking a hoodie, style might be everything -- although not in the way you think.

Different hoodie styles have different traits so the best custom hoodies will vary dramatically person-to-person depending on their needs. A great athletic hoodie, for instance, will usually be lousy when you want something for warmth. And something super-stylish might not be terribly comfortable (particularly if you're looking for a baggy style).

Girl lounging on the boardwalk in a comfy hooded sweatshirt


What to look for in a hoodie   

Given that hoodies serve so many different purposes, the first question worth thinking about is why you're considering custom hoodies. Your goal will likely drive most of your decisions.
Couple wearing hooded sweatshirts

 The two biggest factors in hoodie composition   

Oftentimes, the biggest distinguishing characteristic between hoodies is the weight and fabric type. However, there's a certain amount of overlap between the two because the fabric choice can impact the weight.

A tale of two hoodies

 -The impact of hoodie weight   

How heavy are the hoodies in your closet? Have you given much -- or any -- thought to their weight?

Although it might seem like a meaningless measurement (because it's a difference of ounces), weight has a substantial impact on how a hoodie does (or doesn't) meet people's needs.

Lighter-weight hoodies won't keep you as warm as heavier hoodies. Whether this is a benefit or drawback comes down to how you plan to use your hoodie. For general use during cold weather, you obviously want to stay warm. However, if you're wearing a hoodie during a chilly morning jog, you don't have to worry as much about being too cold.

Additionally, the fabric weight can affect the style. Fashionable hoodies tend to have much thinner material.

Pink hoodies and bubbles, oh my!

-Fabric type  

The other major factor is how much cotton is used in the hoodie.

Greater cotton use typically means the hoodie will be both warmer and a bit heavier. It's a benefit if you're spending a lot of time outdoors in the cold, particularly if you're a bit less active.

Conversely, a heavier polyester use is great if you're planning on being more active. Having more of it in the fabric blend will make the hoodie more breathable and adds moisture-wicking qualities.

-Fabric type  

The other major factor is how much cotton is used in the hoodie.

Greater cotton use typically means the hoodie will be both warmer and a bit heavier. It's a benefit if you're spending a lot of time outdoors in the cold, particularly if you're a bit less active.

Conversely, a heavier polyester use is great if you're planning on being more active. Having more of it in the fabric blend will make the hoodie more breathable and adds moisture-wicking qualities.

 9 Tips for choosing the best custom hoodie   

Although picking custom hoodies might seem hard, there are a number of considerations that can make the process a lot easier.

A hooded sweatshirt is great to wear while lake-watching (Remember -- blink and you might miss the lake!)

#1 - Consider how your custom hoodies will be used  

Who will be receiving your custom hoodies and how will they be used?

Your decisions will vary greatly depending if you're looking to start selling custom hoodies, outfitting your employees, supplying a team, or giving them away (either as gifts or a promotional item).

Ultimately, the "best" hoodie is one that specifically meets your needs the closest. That's why there's no such thing as a perfect hoodie.

#2 - Cost  

Hoodies are an impressive promotional item, but they can get expensive quickly. If you're planning to sell custom hoodies, you can pass that expense along to customers (and maybe justify it as a premium option). Otherwise, you might find yourself staring at the price tag.

Although the price might seem daunting, compare the cost of hoodies against each other. No matter what, hoodies will be more expensive than other custom apparel. And you likely have a very good reason for wanting a custom hoodie. So, instead of just looking at the expense -- or comparing it to ordering a custom t-shirt -- think of it in terms of the cost vs value between the various options.

Hoodie guy staring into water

And there are certainly benefits to going with a more expensive hoodie. For starters, it's going to make a far greater impression if the superior quality is self-evident. Not to mention the hoodie will be something they're more likely to keep and use.

However, it doesn't always make sense to go with the most expensive option. If you're outfitting your employees and the custom hoodies are likely to get ruined -- such as if you employ tradesmen who work in dirty conditions -- you probably don't want to spend a ton on personalized hoodies.

The style, material, and other elements on this list will all impact your cost. Some options are more affordable while others may cost more, but offer a benefit that justifies the added price.

#3 - Warmth  

Do you expect the wearer will be outdoors a lot? If you're giving custom hoodies to a scout brigade, for instance, the sweatshirts might be taken camping or hiking. In a case like that, warmth might matter a bit more than it would to sports fans huddled closely together watching a local team play. (By the way, custom clothing can be a great way to raise money for local teams. Not only are fans able to contribute to their favorite team, but they're able to show their affection for that team... and, in the process, bring more attention to it!)

A hooded sweatshirt can you keep cozy even in the cold

However, as mentioned, if the hoodies are being used for athletics, warmth is less of a concern -- after all, people will get a bit warmer working out anyway.

When it comes to warmth, you're going to consider the fabric choice and weight. Cotton provides warmth while polyester is good for performance. Likewise, a thicker garment will usually be warmer than a thinner one.

#4 - Breathability  

Does the hoodie need to breathe? Does it need to wick moisture?

Girl jogging in a hooded sweatshirt

As mentioned, polyester helps with a lot of these performance issues. However, just going with a thinner cotton may also help.

#5 - Fashion  

While function is important, you may also want to consider how your custom hoodie looks.

When it comes to fashion vs function, there are usually some tradeoffs. Stylish hoodies tend to use thinner fabric and go for a tighter fit -- or, in other words, you're often sacrificing warmth, athletic performance, and everything else (which may even include comfort).

Male models wearing stylish hoodies

The other challenge with fashion is the fit itself. Because fashion tends to be geared closely to how a garment fits a particular person, it's harder to get it right as a giveaway. In fact, you may need to order a specific size for each person or let people choose.

If you plan to sell custom hoodies, style might be all-important. Just keep in mind that a successful online business will need to factor in a certain number of returns. (And, over time, you'll be able to estimate the return rate based on the number of orders shipped.)

#6 - Comfort  

Like fashion, comfort can be more subjective. The traits that make a hoodie comfortable for one person may completely turn off another.

A puppy in a soft hoodie on what's hopefully an equally soft rug

What are some things that commonly make a hoodie comfortable? The first thing that might jump into your mind is whether the hoodie is soft. The feel of the material against a person's skin tends to be a pretty consistent comfort factor. Others vary person-to-person.

Although a lot of people like baggy hoodies because they're roomy, other people prefer a snug fit. (This preference can come down to the way a hoodie rubs against a shirt or a person's skin.)

Generally speaking, the more cotton in the hoodie, the softer that hoodie will be. Polyester and other materials aren't going to be as soft as cotton and, if the fabric is a blend, the non-cottons will likely make the hoodie less soft.

#7 - Ease of cleaning  

Polyester is one of the easier fabrics to clean because stains don't soak in the fabric.

However, cleaning shouldn't be a major issue -- just make sure to follow the washing instructions (which usually includes turning a custom hoodie inside-out to ensure the design lasts longer).

Turn your clothes inside out to ensure print designs last longer on sweatshirts

However, if cleanliness is a big issue -- particularly if the hoodie is used for something where it gets messed up pretty frequently -- this can be a sticking point (or, depending what you get on it, a sticky point). But keep in mind some kinds of stains won't come out.

#8 - Zipper or no zipper?  

Zip-up hoodies can be a lot more expensive than their normal hoodie counterparts. For a lot of uses, adding a zipper won't be practical given the added cost. However, if you're providing people with higher-end custom hoodies, a detail like this can be a big deal.

Green Gildan 18600-E

For example, the Gildan 18600 (pictured above, in one of its 17 colors) has a decidedly high-end look. However, it's also very affordable, as far as zip-ups go.

While zippers are a fantastic option -- and make somebody more likely to wear a custom hoodie -- there's a slight downside. Because you have a zipper running down the front, the design space is broken up. Depending on your usage, that could be a deal-breaker or -- if you're just placing something on the left chest -- it might be a non-issue.

#9 - Sleeves?  

Some people are surprised to learn sleeveless hoodies exist. After all, if hoodies are intended to keep a person warm, how well can they work without sleeves?

A sleeveless hooded sweatshirt can be a cozy option

While the idea of a sleeveless hoodie seems counterintuitive, there are some benefits. The obvious one might be fashion -- these hoodies can have a cool look. The less obvious is the level of warmth it provides. If you're wearing a long-sleeve shirt, your arms are already covered. Effectively, it's a bit cooler -- and more breathable -- than a traditional hoodie.

But is it a good choice for a custom hoodie? Considering it tends to be a somewhat fringe option, you'll probably want a specific reason for going without sleeves.


 Best custom hoodie brands   

After you've figured out what kind of a hoodie you want, the question becomes what brand will you go with.

There are a LOT of high-quality hoodie brands out there, although some are better for specific functions than others.


When it comes to an all-around value, you can't go wrong with Gildan. Among the company's other benefits is an incredible level of consistency. Because Gildan is so vertically integrated (meaning it controls its supply chain), the company is able to produce garments where the color, fit, and everything else is kept extremely close.

Gildan is known for producing consistent quality hoodies and sweatshirts

Gildan's 18500 is a top-seller. It's very soft, durable, and available in 43 colors. In short, there's a LOT to like about it, which has made it a top pick.

Independent Trading Company  

The Independent Trading Company manufactures a lot of incredible hoodies, sweatshirts, and other apparel at often very-reasonable prices. While more expensive than some brands, their hoodies are still a great value.

Independent Trading Company is one of the most impressive brands, with great apparel like the SS4500

Independent Trading Company's SS4500 is a mid-weight hooded sweatshirt available in 32 colors and an absolute top-quality choice (and beloved by some of Bolt Printing's staff).

However, the company produces some of the absolute best custom hoodies, so there are a lot of amazing-quality hoodies to pick from.


For anybody looking to customize athletic apparel, Sport-Tek is often the go-to brand. Their clothes are designed for performance, generally with moisture-wicking qualities and breathability.

The ST235BL sweatshirt is a great option for a print design (but remember you can't do a direct-to-garment print on sweatshirts)

The ST235BL is a stylish fleece hooded sweatshirt available in 5 colors. The stripes and lining give it a cool, eye-catching look. Don't like the stripe color options? Sport-Tek has other striped hoodies. Don't like stripes at all? Sport-Tek also has plain hoodies, like the F244 (available in 13 colors).


If Cornerstone is known for one thing, it's durability. The company's apparel is amazingly durable which makes it great for the outdoors and industrial work settings.

Cornerstone fleece hoodies are sure to last and can be worn with confidence under tough conditions

Cornerstone's CS620 features a thermal lining. Although a more expensive option, CS620 fleece hoodies are designed to last. They're a superb choice if you're outfitting a group.


A household name known for its athletic clothing, Champion has been around for over a hundred years. Although it's had a few different owners during that time (as of 2006, it's owned by Hanes, who also own Alternative Apparel), what hasn't changed is Champion's mainstream appeal and highly-respected quality. And, for many people, they're buying it mostly for the brand.

The S700 Double Dry Eco Fleece. Champion's branding has made teh company popular.

Champion's S700 Double Dry Eco Fleece Hoodie is a popular option available in 12 colors.


Interested in looking good while saving the planet? District may have the hooded sweatshirt for you.

Friends of the environment may love the DT8100

The DT8100 uses fabric made from recycled plastic, meaning it uses sustainable materials. If you're promoting an environmental-friendly cause or charity, it might be your best choice.

Port & Company  

Port & Company is a respected brand and its hooded sweatshirts stack up well against the competition.

Port & Company PC850H

The PC850H is available in 12 colors. It uses ring-spun cotton (meaning it's on the softer side) and is a bit warmer than some of the most fashionable brands.

Other options  

Looking for a great deal? You may want to consider the BDH80.

The BDH80, one of the most popular hooded sweatshirts on our website, is great for print designs

Available in a whopping 45 colors, the BDH80 is a solid value and among Bolt Printing's best deals. If you're looking to customize your own hoodie, it's an incredible value which gets even better when buying in bulk (and, in general, you'll notice some volume discounts as you move from a small run to a bulk order -- just going from ordering 12 to 24 offers a substantial discount on a per-unit basis).

And, of course, if you don't actually need a hood, you could check out our wide selection of sweatshirts.

Our BDC80 crewneck sweatshirt is an incredible value.

BDC80 Crewneck Sweatshirts are directly comparable to the BDH80 and are only lacking the hood. If you're just looking for a higher-end promotional item that can keep people ward off the cold, a crewneck sweatshirt works just as well. More importantly, it substantially brings the price down.

That said, going with crewneck sweatshirts instead won't be an option for everybody. And while it's a very small difference, sometimes that hood (even if it's not actually used) can mean the difference between whether or not somebody wears a sweatshirt.


 Tips for customizing your hoodie   

Once you've chosen the perfect hoodie, it's time to customize it. And, just like the usage helped to determine which custom hoodie works best for your needs, that usage will decide the best way to implement a design.

Design placement  

In many cases, the type of hoodie will help determine your design options. For instance, if you have a zipper running down the front, you're limited to where a design can go on the front. However, even without a zipper, your design area tends to be limited because most hoodies have a front pouch. (As for the ones that don't, they often have a zipper.)

The left chest is a great spot for a printed business logo

Remember that you have more design placement options than just the front. Even if you're just doing a company logo, you could always have a smaller version of the logo in the left-chest spot on the front and then a larger version -- or your company name -- on the back.

Want to get a big less conventional (and possibly eye-catching) with your placement? Try using the sleeve.


Color choice  

You'll also want to consider color combinations. Depending on the hoodie color, your design could be either stand out or possibly be missed.

A white print design will pop on a black sweatshirt

A design whose color strongly contrasts its garment is usually far more likely to grab somebody's attention than a larger image that blends with the apparel. In the case of text, it's usually also going to be easier to read.

Print vs embroidery  

While print is the preferred option for custom t-shirts and embroidery is only practical option for custom beanies, you have more of a choice when it comes to hoodies. You can choose to customize a hoodie with either option.

Comparison of a print logo vs an embroidered business logo -- both are excellent branding!

If you're completely unfamiliar with the terms, a print customization uses ink whereas embroidery uses thread.

The benefit of printing  

With print, you don't have to worry as much about your design size. Or, more specifically, you don't have to worry about printing adding a lot to your cost when you customize a hoodie. You're able to get a much larger design at the same price as a smaller one.

However, the more colors you use in your design, the more expensive it'll be.

The benefit of going with embroidery  

Where print offers a larger design without increasing the price, embroidery gives you the choice of more colors.

Because the cost of embroidery is determined by the thread count, choosing a larger design for a custom sweatshirt will cost more.

[Note: Bolt Printing's hoodie embroidery prices factor in a count of up to 5k threads. Custom hoodies using more than that in their design will need a special quote.]


 Don't be afraid to play around with designs   

When it comes to the quality of your printed sweatshirt, Bolt won't roll over or play dead

Few people find the perfect design on their first try. You'll likely need to experiment with font choices, text layout, and different graphic options.

Above everything else, don't be afraid to have fun -- at least, not when you're just playing around with a design. Oftentimes goofing around can lead to an interesting idea that might work incredibly well on a custom hoodie.


 Why not create a custom hoodie today?   

If you've been considering custom hoodies or sweatshirts, now is a great time to look into making them and there's no better place than Bolt Printing's online design studio.

Whether you want to print or embroider a custom sweatshirt, the design studio on our website can help

Bolt Printing's online design studio has an incredible number of free design resources. And, best of all, you don't need to be a designer or have some deep graphic design experience to use it.

Already have art? Perfect! You can upload your design right into the studio.

Our studio was designed to make things as easy as possible for our customers. Not ready to order today? That's fine, you can save your design for later. And, if you're not feeling confident about your design, keep in mind our team of experts reviews customer designs to make sure there aren't any problems.

A worn fleece hoodie has been known to create feelings of happiness and attract friends

Above all else, we want to create customized apparel you're happy with -- the best custom hoodies you can get.

Note -- Bolt Printing's minimum order quantity for custom hoodies is 12. Because digital printing (a.k.a. direct-to-garment printing) isn't available for hoodies, we're unable to sell small quantities.

 Bolt Printing stands by its quality

Bolt Printing isn't just a website -- we have a whole production facility, all in the USA

Our customization is done in the USA, right at our own facility in sunny Brookfield, CT. This means when you call us, you're talking to people who will work on your customization. (Unlike other companies who have their call centers in one place, rely on a separate production facility, and then might have fulfillment centers somewhere else.)

Bolt's product selection is as incredible as its prices -- our business wants to help your business (or charity, etc)

Bolt Printing offers a wide selection of custom hoodies, custom sweatshirts, and other clothing at affordable prices. Whether you need printed t-shirts, embroidered sweaters, sweatpants, or even a custom hat, we have you covered.

Want more? What if I told you we offer free shipping on most orders to a single address? And if our free shipping isn't fast enough for you, there are a number of express options, too. (Although you can avoid unnecessary shipping costs by ordering well in advance.)

So, what are you waiting for?