SmartWool recently sent us some of their outstanding new PhD apparel. We are talking the cool combo jacket-vest called the PhD SmartLoft Divide. Phd is SmartWool’s most technical line of both apparel and socks and we feel they hit a home run with the SmartLoft, giving it that sort of European appeal. When you put the jacket on and walk around town, people are going to think your some European athlete on tour and ask for autographs. It looks that legit. Heck you may even be mistaken for a super model. Ok maybe not, but you’ll sort of feel like one. The jacket is classy with the perfect amount of accents and detail. It reminds us of Rapha’s apparel in it’s styling and flair.
Anyone who enjoys high output activities including trail running, snow shoeing, cross country skiing or cycling, will love this jacket. Since the bulk of the jacket is on the front, it keeps your core warm, yet allows for heat to dissipate out the back and shoulders. We were fortunate to have colder temps here in Austin (Not normal for this time of year) and could really put the jacket through it’s paces. We found you could run very hard, generating lots of body heat and still remain comfortable while wearing it. In a traditional jacket setup, you would be hard pressed not to over heat.
The merino wool in the SmartWool products of course helps wick and insulate even when wet. The merino also helps with ventilation and breathability, allowing your skin to breath easier as you workout. Another huge benefit to wool is the smell factor and lets face it, if you sweat a lot, your cloths will stink, even if you think you smell like roses. For us this is a huge motivation to get wool products and SmartWool doesn’t disappoint. The fact that you can rinse them off in “The Shower” and then wear them again and again without that shower washed smell. Well let’s just say people will not call you stinky any more.
SmartWool has 3 types of fittings for their apparel. Form Fit, Semi-Form Fit and Relaxed Fit. The PhD SmartLoft Divide is classed as Semi-Formed Fit, meaning it fits on loose, but not too loose and is designed more for the athletic build. We were sent 2 jackets, a women’s small and a men’s large. We felt that the jackets were true to size, but since these are mid-layer garments, they allow ample room for base layering underneath.
We consider this jacket to be a medium-weight mid-layer with the addition of a front DWR panel to block wind, add a little rain protection and provide extra warmth. It would comparable to an Icebreaker’s 240-260 weighted wool top and a more breathable mid-weight vest.
- Semi-Form Fit
- SmartLoft Wool insulated quilted nylon with DWR front panel
- Merino Max Double Jersey knit sides and back panel; Merino wool jersey lining on front panel and inside collar
- Center front zipper with a full draft flap and chin guard
- Secure angled zip pocket at left chest with media cord routing
- Knit in Vietnam
Color Selection – Men
- Red/Black (Bright Red)
- Black/Black (Black)
- Teal/Black (Deep Sea)
- Grey/Black (Graphite)
- Green/Green (Pesto)
Color Selection – Women
- Maroon/Pink (Berry)
- Teal/Light Blue (Clear Water)
- Black/Black (Black)
- Purple/Purple (Imperial Purple)
- Grey/White (Natural)
Do we like this jacket? That would be a big fat YES! The color selection is outstanding and the fit is right on.
The jacket sports a nice flip-down lockable zipper that really works. Zip it all the way up to fit snugly into a padded chin guard for warmth or zip it down, lock it to control temperature. For colder days and windy conditions, the full draft flap and the DWR are a huge help in keeping your core warm.
The Jacket has a secure angled zip pocket at left chest with media cord routing, but honestly who wants a wire when you can go wireless free with products like RedFox Wireless headsets. Still it’s a nice touch for those old timers needing their cords.
For those that are penny pinchers, at $200 the Divide doesn’t come cheap, but in or opinion it’s money well spent for a killer workout jacket.
Let’s face it, if you want to stand out and look great doing it, the PhD Smart Divide will help you get there. The jacket is fantastic at moisture management. Get too hot, just unzip to adjust the temperature. If that doesn’t work and you are still too hot, you can easily wear it around your waist. The ends of the sleeves have tumb holes that are super convenient when the temps drop. As an added benefit the sleeves are doubled up right where your knuckles are, providing some additional warmth. The inner lining and collar are really soft and don’t irritate the skin.
When wearing the PHD SmartLoft Divide, it almost feels like your not wearing a jacket. There is absolutely no restriction of movement and it feel fantastic on. The DWR (Durable Water Repellent) paneled front provides a great wind barrier and needed extra warmth in the core area. Prior to the Divide, I would wear a base layer + mid layer + a vest. Now with the Divide, I just need a good base layer, since it acts as both a mid-layer and a vest.
The main drawback to the SmartLoft Divide is you may not want to get it dirty. Yes, it just looks that good. Yep, sometimes looks can work against you and you may opt for another garment if it is nasty outside instead of using the SmartLoft Divide. The side pockets are nice, but I am not sure they are very secure, since there is no way to zip them up. Temperature judgement calls can be a little iffy for this jacket. If you are looking to wear it around town, your arms could get cold if you misjudge the temps outside. Unfortunately like almost all wool products I own, they are not hair resistant. This means the garment will attract hair and soon you will be wearing a fur coat. For those who have wondering eyes and are in relationships, wool doesn’t discriminate, animal or human hair is equally attracted to it. So be warned!
I would modify the jacket just a bit for the next years version. First as far as I can tell, there is no reflective piping or any other type of reflective material. Adding some would greatly improve visibility at night. I would beef up the side pockets and add zippers. There is no draw string around the waist and on really cold days, having the ability to draw the jacket close to you would prevent cold air from drifting up into the jacket.
Check out SmartWool’s website to find out more about PhD SmartLoft Divide Jacket and their great socks and apparel.