We here at Outside are suckers for merino wool. We’ve written many (many) reviews detailing the natural fiber’s myriad wonderful qualities, such as superb moisture-wicking, breathability, and stretch. But we’ve never seen it used this way in a windbreaker, as Ortovox debuted this week at Outdoor Retailer.
The new jacket is named, fittingly, the Merino Windbreaker. Ortovox dubbed its new tech Beta-Spun: it’s a strand of Tasmanian merino fiber with 19-micron-thin nylon running around it for reinforcement (the final combo is reminiscent of a candy cane), which is then mixed with straight nylon fibers to make up the jacket. All in all, the windbreaker is 50/50 merino and nylon.
Because of that new spinning technique, Ortovox claims the fabric is 70 percent more tear- and abrasion-resistant than uncut merino. When we tried the Windbreaker on at Ortovox’s booth at the show, we were surprised there was any merino in it at all. It feels mostly like nylon, but a nylon that’s less slick and less likely to clam up when you sweat underneath it. And as in other merino-nylon hybrid jackets, the wool affords exceptional temperature regulation and stink resistance.
The Merino Windbreaker is completely windproof and water-resistant, and we’re looking forward to getting some actual time in it. At first blush, it feels like an excellent shoulder-season piece, something to keep in your pack when you’re moving fast-and-light and bust out once the weather picks up. And the smooth feel could mean it’ll be more comfortable to keep on in a wider range of conditions and temperatures.
Merino-synthetic fabric blends aren’t new to the industry—and we’ve even seen fully waterproof wool brought to market in the last several years by Voormi. But we still can’t help but get excited about this iteration and Ortovox’s interesting take on combining the two materials. For its niche, the Merino Windbreaker could be an ideal outer layer on warm days and in mostly dry climates. A men’s medium tips the scales at under six ounces, and a women’s medium at less than five.
Look for the Merino Windbreaker on shelves next spring with a $200 price tag.