A warm and low-profile insulating layer for active…
Source: received it as a personal gift
A warm and low-profile insulating layer for active pursuits. It has the benefits of the warmth, versatility, and odor resistance of merino wool, for those looking for an all-natural mid-insulating layer that can deal with moisture. (It does not wick moisture as well as synthetics, though). The hood and other features are welcome in this jacket.
Fit might be an issue for some. This runs narrow and can be at risk of shrinkage after laundering.
- Warm, but handles wide temperature range
- Fine for handling sweat and moisture
- Love the zippered pockets, hood, and full zip
- Wool absorbs more moisture and does not wick as well as synthetics
- Slender fit could be an issue
- It's quite expensive
You can thank Ibex for this 100% merino full-zip hoody. It feels great and functions well. I wear this a lot when the weather cools off.
Fit/Comfort: I wear size XL in most fuzzy insulating layers, 46 men's suit size. I'm pretty fit, but by no means thin. While this jacket fits, it's on the slender side of the spectrum. I can wear a t-shirt or very thin base layer underneath it, but that's it.
Sleeves are average length and have thumb loops, so your sleeves won't ride up if you layer over it. Another fit issue to keep in mind is that this jacket is prone to a little shrinkage when laundered, though it stretches back out with wear. You definitely have to line dry this jacket.
The fabric is awesome to wear, relatively thick (285 gm/meters squared, so it's significantly thicker than most heavy merino wool base layers), medium densely-woven merino wool similar to a merino wool sweater, but with a much denser weave and smoother outer face.
It has some stretch to it, but a fair bit less than Polartec fleece or a wool sweater. Enough so I'm comfortable in it and don't mind a close-fitting insulating layer when I'm active. It's ideal for layering, no excess fabric, and the smoother outer face is much less likely to snag or catch than a wool sweater or knit base layer.
Range of motion is very good in this jacket. However, comparable synthetic insulating layers have a tad more 'give' and stretch a little more.
The sleeves are about average length; the hood is very fitted, not a lot of extra fabric and no adjustments. It's comfortable and provides a good boost in warmth when it's cold.
Function and Features: A pretty basic design for an insulating layer — features you can and will use, but spare in its overall design. There is no way to adjust the hem, hood, or cuffs, but you don't need that on a garment this close-fitting.
In addition to the full length coil zipper at the front, it has two hand warmer zippered pockets and one very small zippered pocket, left upper arm. The zippers slide easily and have proved to be durable. The jacket weighs 21 ounces in size XL; by comparison, The North Face's Denali fleece jacket weighs nearly 28 ounces. The cuffs have thumb loops so the sleeve can partially cover your hands, and that also help when putting on and taking off top layers.
Zippered pocket pictured above; thumb loop below.
I love the versatility of this jacket in terms of handling temperature changes. Zipped all the way up and wearing the hood, this is a mid-layer I can use to hike in when it's really cold, under a shell and maybe another layer like a fleece vest.
Because it allows wind to pass through easily and zips all the way up the front, it can also serve as an outer layer — think light full-zip hoody sweatshirt — into the 40s and even 50s in a pinch — cool summer nights, spring/fall, all winter.
As with any merino wool layer, this handles moisture reasonably well; it can get damp from wearing it while working extremely hard. At the same time, I think synthetic layers do a better job handling moisture than this jacket in that they absorb less moisture, do a better job wicking, and dry faster.
"Testing Conditions:" I used a generous REI gift certificate to purchase this a year ago, so I have had a lot of opportunities to wear this in a very wide variety of conditions. I intentionally wore it on a couple of rainy hikes to see how it would handle rain, with or without a shell.
I took it out on cool summer mornings with mist rolling off ponds I hiked around, bitter cold blustery iron-gray winter days where I donned the hood and zipped it all the way up under another insulating layer or a hard shell. I also wore it under other layers while watching plenty of soccer games or to keep myself warm at halftime in late-season games I refereed. I also wore it cycling in colder weather under a shell.
This isn't a base layer. You need to wear at least a t-shirt underneath, and that is how I generally used this jacket when I wore it as an outer layer in the 35-50 degree range. The thing is, worn with a wool t-shirt on walks or hikes when i was working pretty hard, that's all I needed for 35 degrees or warmer. It's surprisingly warm given its relatively low bulk.
Very common for me to start out wearing this with a very light synthetic or wool short sleeved shirt, then either unzip if it's warmer or put on a wind-blocking layer or light rain jacket (Patagonia's Houdini comes to mind) if the weather trends the other way.
I do not reach for this if I expect very wet conditions or a ton of sweat because I prefer synthetic mid-layers in those conditions. Synthetics handle moisture better and dry faster than this (or anything else made of wool, in my experience). Expect this jacket to absorb a fair bit of moisture, though it will still keep you fairly warm when it's damp. Also expect it will take longer to dry than a comparable synthetic layer (like Patagonia's Capilene 4). But....like most wool things, this does a whole lot better at resisting stink if you can't launder your layers for a while.
Cost/quality: You get a lot, but you pay a lot. The full retail price of nearly $170 is very hard to swallow. Look for a discount or sale, hope for a gift certificate, or be happy you can pay for something like this. On the plus side, this is a very well done piece of gear. High quality construction, nothing loose, and it looks virtually unscathed after a year's use. Made in the USA of imported fabric.
Buy this jacket for its versatility, its warmth, a high-quality jacket, and the fact you're getting all the benefits of comfy merino wool. It's better-suited to cooler conditions, and people with a heavier or broader build might not like the fit.
Love that cozy merino and great fit, but zipper really…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $85
Love that cozy merino and great fit, but zipper really sucks.
- Merino wool cozy softness
- Great fitting hood
- Wool tough
- Not itchy, just comfy
- Zipper really sucks
I love merino wool hoodies. I have an Ibex Nomad, a Smartwool Phd, a Minus33 Kodiak, and an Ibex Aire. My favorites are the Ibex Nomad and the Ibex Aire. I haven't come across an Icebeaker model that suits me at a decent price point (all my others are ebay or sale purchases).
Each has its own particular use. For backpacking it has to be the Nomad. I particularly enjoy the non-itchy, warm, comfy feel of the brushed merino wool close fitting hood on those chilly days.
When it turns winter out, believe me in MT it gets to be winter, I resort to my Ibex Aire with the same close fitting hood that makes a super layer under my shell or for use alone while XC skiing.
The only thing I REALLY despise about Ibex is the teensy weensy zippers on both the Nomad and Aire, WTF were these folks thinking, or not? That is why I only rate it four stars instead of five. I suppose their return for a busted zipper policy helps offset this flaw. As for the most part they have been good on returned screwed up zippers on Ibex products.
As for the competitors, the Smartwool is a blend of wool and nylon, so it is my wear around the house and garage hoody for spilling food, grease from the garage, and throw it in the washer. The hood fits great and the zipper is the best of the lot. All in all, not much of a merino wool item, but an excellent use it like you stole it hoody.
Right now I am wearing the Minus 33 as I type this, because it is well below zero outside and chilly inside. I like the extra thick Minus 33 and it doesn't itch, but it is made in China...= yucky! I like the thickness, but the zipper is on the wrong side (cuz it comes from the wrong side of the world?) and the hood fits like a monk's frock. So, the Minus 33 is also a "like I don't care what happens" garment. I think I also owned an Icebreaker from STP once upon a time, but it was way too baggy for my liking.