Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Hybrid Pullover Review
Cons: Runs large, minimal stretch, expensive, heavy
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Hybrid is a ¾ zip made from a blend of wool and polyester. With an oversized chest pocket and kangaroo-style hand pockets, this pullover gives you plenty of options to carry your phone, wallet, or a few snacks. This is a medium-weight fleece that has a light DWR coating, making it a great standalone piece for foggy morning runs, where you may encounter some light precipitation.
This pullover lands somewhere in the middle of our testing group when it comes to warmth. For its weight, we expected it to be warmer but found it ideal for chilly morning runs or a decently warm layer for early spring hiking.
All-day comfort is where this jacket excels. Between its causal fit and comfy material, this pullover is a cozy piece to put on and lounge around the house in. It also makes a great piece to jog, hike, or go to the gym in. The kangaroo waist pocket is lined with merino wool and makes for a comfy place to keep your hands out of the wind.
While this pullover isn't as breathable as some of the microgrid fleece options we reviewed, it was one of the more breathable midweight options we tested. What you lose in breathability, you gain in water and wind resistance.
This piece runs on the large side, and as a result, our size medium was baggier and looser fitting than most of the other fleeces we tested. This made layering underneath easy and comfortable. However, the fit did make it feel more restrictive when putting on an insulating and rain layer over top. Given the bulk and weight, our testers preferred to use this piece as a middle insulating layer under a shell and forego a puffy. This style of layering is good for moderately cold and wet climates but not ideal for truly cold weather.
Coated in a light DWR (durable water repellent) finish, this hybrid fleece offers some amount of protection from precipitation. It will shed light moisture better than non-treated fleece and merino, but when subjected to prolonged amounts of rain, it will soak through. Merino wool retains much of its insulating abilities when wet, so even if you do get soaked in this jacket, you will be far better off than if you had been wearing a cotton hoody of the same weight.
Our size medium weighed in at 17.4 ounces. While not horrible, its weight to warmth ratio certainly wasn't the best if you're looking for an ultralight piece to add to your backcountry layering system.
Our testers enjoyed wearing this hoody and appreciated having a blended merino option in a world of mostly fully synthetic fabrics, but we didn't find this jacket to offer an especially good value. The larger and boxier fit made it comfortable for lounging and jogging but challenging to layer over, thus greatly reducing its versatility. There are other jackets in this category that are much more versatile that are being offered at a similar or reduced price point. That being said, if you are a die-hard merino wool fan, this jacket might the mid-weight pullover you're looking for
The Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Hybrid Pullover is a comfortable and loose-fitting midweight jacket made from a blend of merino wool and synthetic fibers. With a light DWR coating, you are afforded a little bit of protection from precipitation but will still need a rain shell when the clouds really start to roll in.
— Buck Yedor
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