Thursday, March 19, 2009

Women's Wednesday (on Thursday): The Perfect Sweater...Found!

I wrote earlier about my quest for the perfect wool sweater. Partly to keep warm and partly to look less ghetto on our bike tours, I decided that a wool sweater was a needed item. I tried the Ibex Shak Full Zip and the Icebreaker Glider. And, then, in a stubborn, I’m-not-giving-in sort of maneuver, I ordered a Smartwool Hahn’s Peak.

The Smartwool arrived and I was instantly in love. Jackpot! It’s made of a thick, densely-knit wool that’s warm without being overly bulky. It has a ribbed neckline and quarter zip that give it a classy finish, and a nice easy shape that doesn’t look too boxy. This sweater hits at the hips, which I consider the perfect length for this type of garment – long enough to keep you warm without being so long that you get lost inside. The sweater is loose enough that you can layer several items underneath and still move your arms and torso enough to load up a touring bike and head out onto the road.

I took this sweater on our recent trip to the desert, where it got down to 30 degrees at night, and I was thoroughly delighted. At 30 degrees, you obviously need a few layers, so this sweater isn’t the end-all-be-all, like a down coat might be. But, at 45 degrees, this sweater plus a long-sleeve wool shirt was incredibly toasty. It’s not wind-proof, but the knit is dense enough that it keeps out more wind than the Icebreaker Glider.

The tag says “dry-clean only,” but I have to believe that if you wash your wool responsibly and don’t throw it in a machine, you can forego the expensive and environmentally-un-friendly trip to the cleaners.

Added bonus, if you act now (and wear a size medium), they’re still on sale at Rock/Creek


cyclotourist said...

I find Smartwool products to pretty consistently be great stuff!

Dottie said...

At 30 degrees, I think just this sweater would work perfectly! You said the magic word I was waiting for - sale. Still pricey, though not not for good quality wooliness, let alone the perfect sweater.

Lesli Larson said...

Thanks for the recommendation. always good to see a blog reviewing woolens for women. I usually go for Ibex over Smartwool due to durability/pilling issues with the Smartwool. Keep us posted on how the new sweater holds up over time. That Shak material is hard to beat (my full zip is still in circulation three years after initial purchase).

kps said...

on your recommendation, i ordered the smartwool sweater from rock creek. i ordered the large, and i love fit and style. i have the ibex shak hoody too. i can see, though (lesli) what you mean about the pilling with the smartwool....the charcoal color of the smartwool sweater. the cat hair won't show quite as much on the SW sweater as it does on my (black) ibex shak!