The SmartWool PhD SmartLoft Divide Hoody Sport has…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by SmartWool for testing and review)
The SmartWool PhD SmartLoft Divide Hoody Sport has been within arm’s reach of me all winter. It's one of the best insulating layers I have used for resort skiing, ski touring, snowshoeing, and around town.
I highly recommend this jacket for anyone looking for a well-rounded insulating layer that is different from the traditional down or synthetic options.
- Warm when wet
- Well placed insulation
- Overall functionality
- No way to compress into itself
I have had this jacket with me for every activity I participated in all winter. Whether it was backcountry skiing, resort skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, or just walking around town. This jacket fits in anywhere.
At 5’ 10” and 170 pounds I fit perfectly in the men’s medium. I was able to wear a base layer underneath and a hard shell on top without feeling stuffed or uncomfortable. The torso length was perfect and the jacket fell just below my pack line preventing it from riding up while moving. The arms had a little extra length accompanied with a snug cuff which allowed for full arm extensions without creating a gap between gloves and jacket.
When fully zipped with the hood up my face was nicely framed and kept warm with the insulated hood. The hood is also low profile enough to fit under a ski helmet for the extremely cold days on the mountain.
SmartWool included some great features with the PhD SmartLoft Divide Hoody Sport. Most importantly the insulation is a mixture of wool and polyester. Upon my initial inspection of the jacket I was skeptical of how much warmth the insulation would provide because felt thin compared to other insulating jackets. This skepticism was quickly overcome during my first test when I wore a short sleeve base layer underneath the jacket on a snowshoe hike in 10 degree weather. My body stayed perfectly regulated and this jacket earned its place in my pack.
The other important aspect of the insulation is that it is wool based. This allows it to get wet and maintain its warmth. I tested this during a hike in heavy rain with temperatures in the upper 30s. I stayed warm because of the insulation but also dry because of the DWR finish on the outer layer of the jacket.
SmartWool designed this jacket to prevent overheating during high aerobic activities. They included breathable stretch fabric under the arms and along the center line of the jacket from the top the hood to the middle of the back. They also did not include insulation in the back panel knowing that this jacket would often be worn under a pack. As someone who often struggles with overheating, these features were a huge plus for me and I love that SmartWool integrated this into their design.
The wrist cuff is unique in that it has two parts. The inner cuff contains the same stretch fabric that appears elsewhere on the jacket and it is attached to an insulted sleeve that is sewn to the inside of the main sleeve. This stretch fabric fits snugly to the wrist and wraps nicely around gloves preventing a gap from forming here, exposing the skin to chilly air.
There is an outer cuff that is insulated that comes down around the inner cuff that provides the stretch cuff protection from snow and rain. The outer cuff also fits well over gloves adding additional barriers to the elements.
There are two large pockets on both front halves of the inside of the jacket. These are large enough to fit a wallet, sunglasses, map and compass, or a liter sized water bottle. This is a nice feature to have in cold environments to help prevent your water from freezing.
On the outside of the jacket there are two front hand pockets as well as a chest pocket. The front hand pockets are separated from the inside pocket by a mesh lining.
The chest pocket is large enough for sunglasses, but I typically used it for my iPhone and took advantage of the headphone wire hole that leads to the inside of the jacket. This allowed me easy access to my phone as well as keeping my headphone cord inside the jacket free from getting snagged in the woods.
As you can see from the first picture above, the outer layer fabric of the chest pocket is very thin and you can see the contents of your pocket from the outside.
The color of the material as well as reflective lettering makes this jacket highly visible. When I first opened the box and saw the color I was shocked. It is not typically a color I wear. Over time, however, I grew to like it and appreciate how easy it is to spot at a distance.
One of the only cons I had with this jacket was its compressibility. It does not pack down as tightly as other insulating layers I have as you can see in the picture.
However, this is not really a fair comparison because the other jackets are a 600 fill down vest and an 800 fill down jacket. I would have liked SmartWool to have included a way to stuff the jacket into a pocket though. My system has been to stuff everything in to the hood which works well but I think it could compress more than this allows.
This jacket ended up replacing my down vest and down jacket as my mid-layer insulation. It provided the perfect amount of warmth during high aerobic activities like ski touring, snowshoeing, and hiking.
Paired with a long sleeve wool base layer I was able to wear this jacket comfortably in temperatures hovering around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
When I felt I needed a little more protection from either the elements or the sticks and branches I would throw on a hard shell which fit nicely over this layer of insulation.
As the temperatures have warmed I have comfortably matched this jacket with a short sleeve base layer. This is a nice combination for spring ski touring here in the White Mountains.
I have found that as the temperatures hit the mid-40s this becomes too much jacket for me. Others may be able to wear this jacket into the 50s but I tend to run hot.
In addition to wearing this jacket during outdoor activities I have used it in the mornings around the house while I wait for the fire to warm up as well as around town as my go to winter jacket. It just works for everything.
The SmartWool PhD SmartLoft Divide Hoody Sport is great for a wide range of aerobic outdoor activities as well as for around the house and around town. Prior to testing this jacket I was not aware of SmartWool’s line of insulated jackets, but now I would absolutely buy one in the future.
I look forward to continuing to test this jacket during the rest of the year because I predict it will be a great insulating layer during above tree line hikes in the White Mountains as well as warmth around camp during my up-coming backpacking trips.