Sunday, February 19, 2023

Best Winter/Spring 2023 Run, Hike, Nordic Jackets Reviews: Ibex Wool-Aire Hoodie, Inov-8 Stormshell, Rossignol Poursuite Jacket

Article by Sam Winebaum

We're in the middle of winter here in Park City. So lots of opportunity to test these three jackets, each different in purpose and all outstanding. We’ll go in order from a multi purpose Merino wool insulated “puffy” the Ibex Wool-Aire Hoodie, to a wind resistant soft shell the Rossignol Poursuite, to a super light, wind and water proof running jacket the Inov-8 Stormshell

Ibex Wool-Aire Hoodie ($285)

Ibex founded in 1997 and I go way back to their origins in Vermont about the same time as Smartwool and Icebreaker started. While Smartwool initially focused on socks and Icebreaker base layers, Ibex in the deep cold of Vermont focused on heavier layers, hats and outwear for alpine and nordic skiing as well as running. I still have several OG pieces that I still run and nordic ski in.  They disappeared for a while only recently re launching.  We are also now testing their summer weight Merino/Tencel blend Springbok Tee and Shorts .

Of course if they were going to create a “puffy” they had to bring wool into the mix.

The Wool Aire is a stuffable puffy with a proprietary merino wool insulation. Ibex says:. “The wind and water resistant face fabric is completely PFC-free, with Bluesign Certified materials, Oeko-tex Certified dyes, and renewable raw material for insulation”.

Very light, my men’s medium weighs 12 oz /339g . it is constructed of 20 denier featherweight face fabric and a 80 gram proprietary insulating fill, made from 80% premium merino wool, 20% polyester.

The Wool-Aire has 2 big side zip pockets, a chest pocket into which the puffy stuffs (although I was not able to quite zip it closed stuffed), an elastic snorkel hood, and elastic cuffs and hems.

The fit is generous and easy and light with not only plenty of room for layers but more importantly room for air to circulate and dissipate moisture on the go with the elastic cuffs all around keeping any wind and chill out, and that is what I found.

I have tested the Wool-Aire on the run including temps around 20 F with breezes, a temp when I am usually wearing far less and was never overheated and for sure warm enough. Most pleasant to be warm dry and not sweating through with the insulation only lightly damp at the back when done. It dried incredibly quickly.

I also gave it multiple “indoor track” tests in cold temperatures. By this I mean I walked the ⅓ of a mile to the nearby indoor track with just a t- shirt underneath, ran 5 miles on the quite warm track (jacket off of course) and walked home. Never was I chilled there either with what I noticed on the runs and skis outside as well,  a pleasant sensation of warmth, quick heat dissipation  and plenty of wind resistance. 

Of course it makes a great option around town and  for all winter pursuits. True to its Vermont origins, the Wool-Aire is versatile, light, stylish, comfortable,and with strong sustainability features in the mix..

Poursuite Jacket ($200 some colors now on sale $140)

The Poursuite, a nordic (and run) thin softshell with wind resistant front and highly breathable back, surprised me.  Rossignol is of course a legendary French ski brand both Alpine and Nordic. I have a pair of their nordic tights I got on sale years ago and skate skis but never any other apparel. As a rule for winter running I find Nordic apparel brands's products outperform pure run brands given the demands of Nordic skiing high output on the uphills, cold and wind on the downhills.

The Poursuite is quite the sharp looking jacket all in blue with the iconic Rossignol rooster and “Bleu, Blanc, Rouge” French flag bands all on one sleeve. 

The back has grayish light and smooth highly breathable, moisture evaporating fabric with enough density to be smooth and not a mesh or jersey.

The fit is true to my usual medium with a “tailored fit” so snug but unlike most such fitted jackets with plenty of stretch so not in any way a straight jacket as some are.

We have a massive 5 pockets on board with 2 side zip with inside behind drop in for gloves, hats, and as I found ideal my Insta360 with selfie stick. The snug fit kept it from moving around. Outback is a very large lower back zip pocket. All pockets neatly integrated without taking away from the sleek look.  The zipper pulls are big enough to work with gloves on, a pet peeve in many other jackets and there is reflective strip alongside the front zipper.

The front and sleeves are lined (laminated to outer soft shell) with a breathable, wind and water resistant membrane, the combination along with the back having plenty of stretch. 

The membrane is rated 10,000/25,000 Waterproof/Breathable so on the light side as far as water resistance and very strong on breathability.  

Further the Poursuite incorporates 37.5 Technology described as follows: “37.5 Technology’s microporous particles diffuse water vapor (read: sweat) out of your apparel and into the air, making more efficient the evaporation process that your body naturally initiates. This evaporative effect cools you down and also keeps you dry, which is important to maintaining warmth while stationary…

The 37.5 active particles are infused into the polyester fabric threads. Given this jacket is 100% polyester, the thermoregulation particles are infused throughout the entirety of the jacket. “

I have had garments with 37.5 before and here along with the water resistant breathable membrane and the breathable back The Poursuite is at another level in terms of performance,  as is the “stink” resistance. 5 straight days of hard exercise and no smell of any kind. 

During my runs and nordic skis at around 20 F in the sun I was always just warm enough and never overheated with just a thin base layer underneath. 

I was very surprised how temperature regulating the 37.5 treatment is especially in a jacket with a water resistant breathable membrane.

I might compare it to the Tracksmith Downeaster with the Tracksmith with its Schoeller laminated inner wool and stouter, more water resistant upper heavier and less stretchy on the go. In really nasty wetter New England weather it is a bit more protective but its weight and stiffness is much more felt than in the svelte Poursuite which on the warmth front is surprisingly almost as equally as warm.

Inov-8 Stormshell ($230)

The Stormshell is a super light, stretchy wind and water resistant shell designed pack down to next to no weight or space, so the ideal companion on any run where the weather may be iffy and as a UTMB spec shell.

It has a Waterproofing 20000 HH  Breathability 20000 B-1 rating so 2 x the waterproofing of the Rossignol and a bit less breathability. If memory serves the UTMB spec is 10000 / 10000. The Pertex Shield membranes have always been high performing and here with the soft stretchy outer face fabric we have an exceptional soft, stretchy, light and smooth fitting run and hike jacket.

The fit is on the snug side in my medium and a bit short. I have been able to put a mid layer underneath but that is about it. I prefer a bit more room underneath for air circulation and layers so I might have sized up as heat did tend to build up on the go due to the tight fit. That said at the same 20F / -7 C run temps as with the other jackets here I was comfortable and well wind protected. 

It weighs a remarkable 171 g / 6.03 oz in my medium and packs down small enough to put in just about any pocket: vest, shorts, or pants. 

The Stormshell has one chest pocket into which the jacket stuffs. I particularly like the sealed zippers, discrete yet copious reflectivity, snap at upper chest to keep jacket on while most un-zipped, thumbs holes so the sleeves can cover a good part of the hands  and adjustable hood with bendable wire hood bill (unbent above!).  

Need an ultra light weather resistant breathable jacket that is easy to pack away and provides very solid weather protection? Stormshell is a fine choice. 

Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range, if he is very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run or nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

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