7 months ago, Smartwool sent me this jacket to test. 6 and a half months ago it became too warm to wear it, and I’ve only just gotten around to re-testing it now that the nights are getting cooler. Sorry Smartwool!
Made from Smartwool’s heaviest grade of wool, knitted in what’s called a Ponte weave which is very dense and more wind-resistant than your average woolen garment, the Heavy Full Zip Jacket is an alternative to a thick fleece.
It looks smarter than a fleece. I’d readily wear it on an evening out as a coat, as much as I’d wear it on a chilly hike. And it feels heavier and better quality than a fleece too. The design, all in black with a subtle red trim behind the zips, is very sophisticated which makes this jacket a true crossover from outdoor to mainstream markets.
Styled in a form-fitting shape, it isn’t snug, but it is flattering and turns your torso into a chiselled shape without much effort. A slim waist and long arms mean that it’s pretty effective when you’re moving fast and thumb loops help to keep your hands warm.
The 3 zippered pockets work very well for storing things, and are toasty warm for your fingers. It’s not a rigid material though, so lots of weight in the pocket will result in the jacket getting baggy.
The high neck works very well to keep draughts out, and the zip doesn’t chafe.
As heavy as the jacket is, since it’s made of wool it breathes excellently and works to channel any sweat away from your body. Unless there’s been a strong wind blowing, I’ve found this to be one of the warmest mid-layers I’ve ever worn, so have had the zipper undone most of the time.
Since it’s taken me so long to write this review, Smartwool have changed the design slightly and whilst you’ll still find this version in retailers and online, the newer version has a slightly more ‘jacket’ look to it, which should be noted. There’s a link to the old version here.
SUMMARY: This is a gorgeous jacket which would keep you very warm indeed through Spring and Autumn. Coupled with a wind/rainproof outer layer it would suffice well into winter too. It’s smart enough to wear ‘into town’ and functional enough to wear on the slopes or on a hike. It’s much more expensive than a fleece though, and I found it too hot for Summer use.
Price: $220 (Smartwool’s is a US site)