SmartWool PhD Propulsion 60 Hoody Sport jacket
On test is the new SmartWool PhD Propulsion 60 Hoody Sport jacket.
How do you improve on a SmartWool merino baselayer? You add SmartLoft, of course! SmartWool has expanded its range of mid-layer apparel with jackets that combine merino wool and SmartLoft, an insulation created from 80% merino wool and 20% polyester as a binding agent.
SmartWool reckons this is twice as warm as down and remains warm when wet.
The SmartWool PhD Propulsion 60 Hoody Sport is a women’s-specific design that makes use of the brand’s “best of our Body Mapped Technology”.
This means there is more SmartLoft 60 (60 refers to 60g weight) insulation at the front of the jacket to keep you warmer in inclement conditions and a breathable, stretchy HyFi fabric at the back, where we tend to sweat the most.
A lightweight Merino inner layer has been fitted inside the jacket in areas where temperature (and odour) management are required, such as the torso.
In addition, there are wind-resistant panels at the front, lower back and arms to keep the chill out and a DWR treatment to make the jacket water resistant.
- A “performance-fit” hood with wind-resistant panels. It can be used beneath a helmet if required.
- There are two zipped hand pockets and zipped chest pocket on the outside.
- Wrist warming inserts with thumb loops.
On test: SmartWool PhD Propulsion 60 Hoody Sport jacket
The jacket has lots of features and it makes a change to be trying a mid-layer that is not made of down, hydrophobic down or a fully synthetic insulator. The wool insulation is lightweight but it is also very warming. I have been really impressed with the weight-to-warmth ratio of this jacket.
The jacket is light to wear and the medium size is quite roomy for me. I think as a UK10 I’d be better in a small. This would certainly give a neater fit. That said, the torso and arm length are good for me and it’s great to be able to make use of the thumb loops without cutting off my circulation.
The combination of insulation and stretchy fabric in one jacket – usually called a hybrid – is fairly common these days. I like the set up because it makes the jacket more versatile. Wear it as an outer jacket on dry and cool days or as a mid-layer on cold and wet days.
The features such as wrist warmers, thump loops, a neat fitting hood, a fabric cover for the top of the zip (to stop the zip rubbing on the chin) and a merino inner fabric make this jacket a good choice.
In windy and damp weather the jacket worked a treat. The outer fabric of the jacket kept the wind and drizzle out. Although I was working hard walking uphill I didn’t feel any dampness from sweat. And at higher altitude I remained warm and protected from the weather. I felt that SmartWool’s body mapping technology worked well for me.
When the rain became a little heavier I added my normal slim-fitting waterproof jacket on top of the SmartWool jacket for better protection.
I also like the extra long wrists with thumb loops, like mini gloves. This works well when adding full gloves because there is an extra buffer from the cold at the wrist area.
I do have a few small criticisms, however. The outer fabric is quite shiny and noisy! It rustles quite a lot when wearing the jacket and this might annoy some people. However, the fabric is water and wind-resistant and feels durable so maybe the rustling noise is worth it for the weather protection.
I am also not too keen on the colour that I have been testing. It’s a dull mauve and I’d much prefer something brighter. There is a “sunglow” (a dull-ish yellow) and a “black” version but I like bright blues, reds and greens. This is a personal thing though. (The men’s blue jacket, for example, looks a lot brighter.)
And £180 (this is the UK price I’ve mostly spotted on-line) is high. SmartWool products have a great reputation so they can command higher prices but this is pricey for a mid-layer jacket in my opinion. However, I have seen it sold by Snow + Rock for around half price and that seems like quite a bargain. Also check out DealsDaddy.
See SmartWool jacket for more details. Search on-line for UK retailers.