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Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Hybrid Pullover Review

Made from a blend of merino wool and synthetic fabrics, this ¾ zip pullover is great for your morning run or as part of your frontcountry winter layering system
Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Hybrid Pullover
Photo: Smartwool
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Price:  $180 List | $180.00 at REI
Pros:  Inner merino liner, DWR outer, large pockets
Cons:  Runs large, minimal stretch, expensive, heavy
Manufacturer:   Smartwool
By Buck Yedor ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 26, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Breathability - 20% 7
  • Layering Ability - 15% 6
  • Weather resistance - 10% 7
  • Weight - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Hybrid makes a good standalone piece for when the weather is cool but not cold, and you might encounter some light precipitation. Its loose fit makes it less than ideal to put multiple layers on top but is easy to layer underneath. Too heavy for the backcountry, this piece is great for your neighborhood run or day hiking. The blended merino and synthetic fabric feels great on the skin and is easy to wear all day long.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $180.00 at REI$99.00 at Backcountry$69.26 at BackcountryCheck Price on REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$109 List
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73
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Pros Inner merino liner, DWR outer, large pocketsCozy, athletic fit, breathable, lightweightBreathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athleticsPerfect fit for most active uses, ideal weight for many conditions, great hood designLess "teched out" aesthetic, thumbloops, large chest pocket
Cons Runs large, minimal stretch, expensive, heavyPoor weather resistance, no thumb loopsNot incredibly warm, poor weather resistanceNot as warm for its weight as some high-loft modelsHeavy, poor breathability
Bottom Line This ¾ zip pullover offers a DWR coated synthetic outer, with a cozy merino wool lining that is great for all-day comfortA warmer and more comfortable version of the classic R1It is hard to beat the value of this high performing and cost effective fleeceAn ideal fleece for almost anything you can think of, you'll never want to take it offOffering a decent combination of performance and style, this fleece is a versatile option
Rating Categories Merino Sport Fleece Hybrid P... Patagonia R1 Air Vigor Full Zip Patagonia R1 Hoody Kuhl Interceptr 1/4 Zip
Warmth (20%)
7
8
7
7
8
Comfort (20%)
8
9
8
7
7
Breathability (20%)
7
9
9
9
7
Layering Ability (15%)
6
9
9
9
7
Weather Resistance (10%)
7
7
6
6
8
Weight (15%)
7
9
9
9
7
Specs Merino Sport... Patagonia R1 Air Vigor Full Zip Patagonia R1 Hoody Kuhl Interceptr...
Type Midweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight
Weight 17.4 oz 9.7 oz 12 oz 11.1 oz 14.6 oz
Main Material 54% Polyester, 38% Merino Wool, 8% Elastane; Overlay - 100% Nylon 100% recycled polyester Grid-back fleece: 94% polyester, 6% spandex 6.9-oz polartec power grid 93% recycled polyester 7% spandex with Polygiene permanent odor control ALFPACA GOLD performance fleece and KASHMIRA side panels
# of Pockets 2 1 3 1 1
Unique Features Blended Merino wool, kangaroo pouch pocket Hollow-core fabric is highly breathable for high-output activities
offset shoulder seams
Balaclava style hood, thumb loops Balaclava style hood, thumb loops, Polygiene permanent odor control, longer length to stay tucked under a harness Articulated sleeves, low bulk seem stiching
Hood Option Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


This merino fleece hybrid is nice alternative to fully synthetic...
This merino fleece hybrid is nice alternative to fully synthetic options in the same class.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Warmth


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.

While it wasn't our first choice to take on serious missions into...
While it wasn't our first choice to take on serious missions into the mountains, this hoody was great for spring time cragging and hiking.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Comfort


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.

The brushed merino liner feels great on the skin.
The brushed merino liner feels great on the skin.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Breathability


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.

The Smartwool Hoody's relaxed fit makes it a great choice for doing...
The Smartwool Hoody's relaxed fit makes it a great choice for doing chores outside.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Layering Ability


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.

The relaxed fit makes it difficult to layer over but a great...
The relaxed fit makes it difficult to layer over but a great standalone piece for hiking and jogging.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Weather Resistance


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.

All though it's only on one side, the left breast panel is...
All though it's only on one side, the left breast panel is windproof, adding some amount of weather proofing.
Photo: Buck Yedor

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.

Value


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

Conclusion


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.

The outer layer has a light DWR coating, giving you a little added...
The outer layer has a light DWR coating, giving you a little added protection from light precip.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Buck Yedor