We’re living in a golden age of athleisure, and even among the best athleisure brands in the world, Champion is a crowd favorite for its soft fabrics, universal good fit and super-affordable prices. We’re seeing Champion everywhere in 2022, from fancy collabs with Todd Snyder to everyday t-shirts and sweats.
If you’re shopping for Champion hoodies and sweatshirts, then you’ll notice the brand now offers two different types of fabrics in its hoodies: Reverse Weave and Powerblend.
At first glance, these fabrics might look the same, so how do you know which option is best for you? As a Champion fan, I put these two fabrics head-to-head, and I’ve got a full breakdown for you below.
How Champion Became Such an Iconic Brand
Though they’re mostly thought of as a casualwear brand today, Champion is one of the most important innovators in the history of athletics. The brand created the nylon mesh jersey, a breathable staple that’s ubiquitous in football, basketball, and track and field, and though they didn’t invent it, they played a role in distributing the first sports bra. But the innovation Champion is best known for is the hoodie, first introduced in the 1930s.
The hoodie was designed as a warm-up garment for athletes during practice or on the sidelines. By 1938, Champion developed Reverse Weave. Reverse Weave fabric is cut on the cross-grain to resist shrinkage in the washing machine (at that time, the domestic washing machine was brand new technology). It’s no surprise that the hoodie quickly made its way off the field, given its comfort and warmth.
The hoodie continues to be Champion’s bread and butter, and the brand continues to make some of the best hoodies. Because it’s such a staple for Champion, there are many different styles to choose from; two of the brand’s most popular styles are Powerblend and the aforementioned Reverse Weave. Both are available for men and women and both come in many of the same colors. And if you’re shopping online, it can be frankly pretty difficult to tell the two apart. The difference matters, given the fact that the Reverse Weave is nearly 25% more expensive.
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Champion Reverse Weave vs Powerblend, What’s the Difference? Comparing Fabric & Weight
Champion’s Reverse Weave hoodie retails for $65 at full price, while their Powerblend hoodie goes for $50 (but is often on sale for $25 or less). We got our hands on both styles (Size M, color Oxford Grey) to determine whether the Reverse Weave is really the more premium hoodie or whether you’re better off sticking with the more affordable Powerblend.
The differences between the hoodies become immediately apparent even before you put them on. The Reverse Weave hoodie is 12 oz, while the Powerblend is 9 oz. A 3 oz difference on paper might sound minor, but it’s important to remember that fabric is weighted in ounces per yard, not by garment. The result is that the Reverse Weave sweatshirt is substantially heavier and thicker than the Powerblend hoodie. The Reverse Weave is a true heavyweight sweatshirt, while the Powerblend is a midweight sweatshirt.
Likewise, the sweatshirts are made from different fabrics. While both are fleece (as opposed to more traditional cotton terry), the composition varies. The Reverse Weave is 84% cotton and 16% polyester, while Powerblend is 50/50 cotton/poly. In terms of staying warm, the Reverse Weave is the clear winner, but if you want something to go for a jog in, you might opt for the lighter weight Powerblend.
Champion Reverse Weave vs. Powerblend: Construction
Beside the weight of the fabric, the sweatshirts have notable differences in terms of design, especially the ribbing. The Reverse Weave hoodie has longer cuffs and a longer hem than the Powerblend. The Reverse Weave hoodie also has ribbed panels on the sides of the sweatshirt, creating more give and movement. On the Powerblend hoodie, the front and back are simply sewn together. Throughout, the Reverse Weave has double stitching on the edges, while the Powerblend hoodie has a single stitch.
The pocket of the Reverse Weave hoodie sits higher on the chest, while the Powerblend pocket is slightly smaller. The hood of the Reverse Weave hoodie is roomier, while the smaller Powerblend hoodie might be less comfortable for those with bigger heads.
Because of the higher polyester content and thinner fabric, the Powerblend hoodie is more stretchy, which can work to its advantage for anyone wearing it to the gym.
Reverse Weave vs. Powerblend: Aesthetics
The design differences are more subtle, but the sweatshirts do vary in color, logo, and other details. The Oxford Grey Reverse Weave is a slightly lighter color than Powerblend. On the Reverse Weave, the “C” Champion logo on the chest is white and red regardless of which color you choose. The “C” chest logo on the Powerblend is tonal, meaning it’s the same color as the sweatshirt.
On both, the hood has metal eyelets for the drawstring. The Powerblend hoodie has aglets on the end, while the Reverse Weave hoodie is simply tied at the end. The differences here are largely cosmetic, with the Reverse Weave having a more retro look and the Powerblend a more streamlined, modern design.
One notable design difference is the hood; on the Powerblend, the inside of the hood is a contrasting color. The Oxford Grey Powerblend hoodie is black on the inside. Other colors of the Powerblend hoodie have gray on the inside. On the Reverse Weave, the hood is the same as the body. The contrasting color of the hood arguably detracts from the design of the Powerblend, but this is largely a personal preference.
Which Style has the Better Fit?
The fit of the Reverse Weave and Powerblend hoodies not too different. They both have a boxy fit, although the Reverse Weave is boxier, owing to the different fabric compositions. Both are true to size, and are similar in sleeve and body length.
The heavy weight and high-cotton content of the Reverse Weave make the hood protrude substantially, whereas the hood of the Powerblend hood sits more flush with the back of the sweatshirt. The Reverse Weave hoodie is a great option given the trend toward boxier fits, but those who prefer a more slim fit might like the Powerblend more.
How Do They Hold Up in the Wash?
Both sweatshirts survived a trip through the washer and dryer (cold wash, low heat) without signs of shrinkage, which isn’t surprising given that resisting shrinkage is why Reverse Weave was invented. The higher polyester content of the Powerblend hoodie likely helps prevent shrinkage from the cotton. Following the recommended washing instructions, you can wash both sweatshirts without much worry. However, the Powerblend hoodie did pill somewhat after coming out of the dryer. And since both are fleece, they shed a considerable amount on the first wash.
Reverse Weave vs Powerblend: Who’s The Champion?
Champion invented the hooded sweatshirt, and they’re still the ruler of their domain. Whichever you choose, you can count on a stylish, comfortable hoodie that’s well-priced. But is the Reverse Weave the better hoodie, or does value put Powerblend over the top?
Though that may be a personal preference, it’s clear that you’re getting a lot more hoodie for the money by splurging on the Reverse Weave. The fabric is much heavier, and you’re a getting more considered design, including longer, thicker cuffs and reinforced ribbing on the sides of the sweatshirt.
The lighter color and traditional details of the Reverse Weave makes for a more classic, retro-inspired hoodie, so the Reverse Weave arguably ekes out the win in the style department, too.
That said, there’s still a lot to be said for the Powerblend hoodie. That price point is hard to argue with, and the lighter weight fabric, stretchy fabric and higher polyester content make it the better choice for working out or wearing in warmer weather.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that Reverse Weave takes the title, but both sweatshirts are well worth adding to the rotation.