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Oct

19

2012

Tested: SmartWool PhD SmartLoft Divide

smartwool-phd-smartloft-divideThe Claim: SmartWool says that because they use lofted wool between the fabric layers of the PhD SmartLoft Divide, it insulates like a down piece but still provides warmth when wet.

 

The Test: The Divide entered my layer line-up in February, and I wore it skiing over the rest of winter, then as my insulation piece for summer and fall nights.

 

The Verdict: The SmartLoft holds in heat. My core stayed toasty warm under the wool insulation. And the weather-resistant nylon face fabric repelled light rain and shut out a stiff breeze. A base layer fits underneath comfortably. The back, side panels, and sleeves are cut from MerinoMax fabric—Merino wool with elastane for stretch—and add flexibility and breathability. I found that it works well for cold-weather cardio. And because the back isn’t insulated, you can carry a backpack without building up a big sweat layer. I didn’t test it in a full-on deluge, but the wool held warmth in rain showers. I didn’t expect to love it as much as a down sweater, but I was wrong. The Divide became a go-to layer for summer and fall hikes, around-town bike commuting, early morning bouldering, and the chilly ski days of my winter. $200; smartwool.com —Olivia Dwyer

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