Ibex Aire WI Sweater ReviewNovember 4, 2012
- Green cred: recycled nylon shell, wool interior
- Slim, attractive fit
- Machine washable
- Wool insulation is warm when wet and naturally moisture wicking away from the body
- Made in Canada, eh!
- Fairly heavy for the category
- Not as compressible as down or synthetic
- Less "puffy" than other jackets tested
The Aire ditches the bulging insulation in a your typical down sweater for a slimmer profile. But it still packs the same warmth as its down brethren and layers well under a shell and over baselayers. If you like the idea of a down puffy, but don't want to look like Pop-Eye, this is your best choice in the test.
With a windproof, recycled nylon shell we found this jacket’s warmth comparable to other down sweaters. But the Aire, like the Smartwool PhD SmartLoft Full Zip Jacket [LINK], excels in moist climates where the wool insulation loses nothing to wetness.
We should note Ibex’s WoolLoft a different from SmartWool’s. Australian merino wool fibers are worked into layers—like a cake—with Ingeo (a corn starch derivative) holding the fibers in place so they don’t settle or bunch. Much like synthetic insulation, the layers create dead air space, a key to effective insulation.
More casual and street worthy than the puffier options, this jacket has baffles that are low profile and wide. It fits fairly trimly, with enough room to layer a baselayer and thin fleece under it, and is low profile enough to comfortably layer under a shell or heavier down jacket. The fit is true to size.
With a bit of effort you can pack the Aire into its mesh interior zip pocket—about the size of a foam football. In other words, it’s compressibility is better than the SmartWool, but not as good as the down options.
At just shy of a pound it is on the heavier side for this test, but not obese by any measure—definitely worthy for a multi-day trip.
To paraphrase Gordon Gecko, green is good. We like that this jacket sports a recycled shell. It also comes in a hooded version.
Price and performance are middle of the road, head-to-head with the other sweaters we looked at.