Ideal body-mapping means insulation where it matters and ventilation where it’s needed.
GEAR INSTITUTE RATINGS
Relaxed fit allows for versatility
Short in the waist
Moisture builds up in chest pocket
The Smartwool Corbet is very breathable and is the most versatile of all the jackets in the test. Its relaxed fit allows the cyclist to add layers for colder days or to use as a midlayer with a shell, without feeling bulky. However its shorter cut in the waist means a cyclist has more rear exposure when in the aggressive riding position.
The Smartwool Corbet 120 is constructed with 120 grams of SmartLoft insulation and heavyweight merino wool. On rides in the high-twenties to mid-thirties it did well at blocking cold gusty wind. Although it is not waterproof, it has a DWR coating that we found worked well at repelling snow and sleet. Although fast rides through melt puddles caused the sleeves and back to become quite wet, the heavy-weight merino wool lining did a good job keeping us comfortable in inclement weather. Of all the jackets in the test, the Smartwool Corbet dried the fastest.
Lab-born synthetic tech fabrics may “automatically” sense your body temperature and regulate it, but merino wool, the original tech fabric, wicks moisture, dries quickly and repels odor naturally. We found the breathable merino wool of the sides, arms, neck and back, as well as the merino wool liner under the SmartLoft insulation panel, easily transferred the extra heat that built up under the insulated front panel. It also increased the comfort level when the merino wool didn’t trap moisture when wearing a hydration pack. While we still experienced sweat, the Smartwool Corbet managed sweat better than all of the jackets in the test, both cycling-specific and non-specific active. However, condensation did build up significantly on the nylon side of the chest pocket on high-exertion days, causing our MP3 players to get soaked.
Insulated with 120 grams of SmartLoft core insulation in the front and constructed with heavy-weight merino wool everywhere else, the Smartwool Corbet proved to be a warm jacket for cycling in temperatures ranging from the high-twenties to the low-forties. Its relaxed fit is a key component of its warmth because it allowed us to wear a heavy-weight merino wool base layer which kept us comfortable in temperatures down to the high-twenties. Thumb loops in the sleeves prevented any cold drafts sneaking between cuff and glove.
When riding in temperatures in the high teens to high-twenties with very low or no wind-chill, the Corbet’s relaxed fit accommodated a mid-weight merino wool baselayer and a lightweight outer shell, both long-sleeved and vest. The fact that the Corbet’s construction and cut makes it useable as both a mid-layer and outer-layer impressed us the most because it increased the jacket’s versatility as a multi-use active jacket.
However, the Corbet is shorter in the waist than all the jackets in the test, causing our (size small) testers to be more exposed in the back when in the aggressive cycling position. Conversely, the shorter length did not cause the same bunching in the front like the other non-cycling jackets and we did not have to adjust the waist strap on an hydration pack.
Of all the jackets in the test, the Smartwool Corbet is the jacket that we would not want to wear in a crash. Although the Corbet is a well-constructed, quality jacket with tight seams and sturdy zippers, and on its own has the ability to last a cyclist through many years of rides and washing machine cycles, the soft merino wool in the arms, sides and back will likely tear in a high speed impact on trails not covered in snow.
The Smartwool Corbet is a lightweight and very packable jacket with three pockets: A zippered internal chest pocket with a cord port and two zippered hand pockets. However we found that the chest pocket retained moisture during high-exertion rides causing MP3 players to get wet. Cyclists should consider enclosing their devices in plastic bags or cases to protect them.
Zipper pulls on the hand pockets are glove-friendly only when wearing mid-weight gloves. Thicker insulated winter gloves will likely need to be removed. The zipper on the internal chest pocket is glove friendly only with lightweight gloves.
Although it has no reflective elements, we simply added stick-on reflective strips to increase visibility when commuting in the dark.
While the Smartwool Corbet is a minimalistic non-cycling-specific jacket, its greatest feature beyond its outstanding breathability is its versatility. We found that because of its relaxed fit and stretch, it can be a midlayer and outer layer, making it an outstanding multisport jacket for cold weather.
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HOW WE TESTED
All cycling jackets were tested on six-plus mile commutes to work each way on designated urban bike paths and bike lanes, as well as fatbike rides up to eighteen miles. The test period ran from early January to mid-February in temperatures that ranged twenty degrees below zero with wind chills to twenty-five degrees above zero with gusty wind, as well as rides in falling snow.