Fall doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, but already an autumn trend is taking shape. Merino wool appears to be the new black when it comes to jacket insulation. Minus33 launched its Thermerino jacket a few weeks ago, and now Icebreaker has taken the wraps off its MerinoLOFT jackets.
Icebreaker’s MerinoLOFT jackets come in three styles each for men and women. Both men and women get a Stratus and Helix version, the Stratus being shown above. By comparison, the Helix looks more like a standard hoodie. The third women’s jacket is called the Nomad Jacket and resembles a short trenchcoat. The third men’s jacket, called the Departure jacket, has a similar length to the Stratus, but isn’t as puffy and has sweatshirt-like sleeves.
The Stratus MerinoLOFT jackets are billed as delivering “extreme warmth,” with the most-insulated panels being around the core. The arms have slightly less insulation, but they still do have some. The major difference between the men’s and women’s versions is the cut. The women’s version is “tailored and shaped for a feminine silhouette from the hood to the hem.”
The Helix jacket is lighter weight and can act as a midlayer on cold days or an insulating outer layer when the temperatures aren’t as biting.
Both the women’s Nomad and men’s Departure jackets try to blend backcountry and barrio. Icebreaker calls them a “hybrid” approach, though the “peak to pub” fashion sense isn’t exactly new to the world of outdoor apparel.
The secret sauce of the MerinoLOFT jackets is their use of merino wool for insulation rather than down. Icebreaker’s long been a wool proponent, and these new jackets continue that tradition. Merino offers a solid warmth to weight ratio, and it’s both moisture regulating and odor resistant. Most important, it stays warm when wet, doesn’t deform, and is machine washable.
All six versions of the MerinoLOFT jackets have merino insulation under their water-repellent shell. You can read more about them here.