Hands-on Gear Review

Ibex Zepher Review

The Ibex Zepher
Price:  $115 List
Pros:  Comfortable, warm.
Cons:  Expensive.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Ibex

Our Verdict

Wool has come a long way in recent years, from its thick-fibered, scratchy beginnings. Perhaps no baselayer represents this better than the Ibex Zepher. It provides the warmth of a Christmas sweater in a thin, sleek, comfortable package. It has the finest texture of the baselayers we tested. It was our favorite choice for lounging around or casual hiking.

The Zepher is a comfortable but expensive baselayer. If you are buying on a budget, try the Capilene 3 for another lounge-worthy layer. If you are looking for something with a bit more performance in the same price range, the Icebreaker GT is a nice alternative.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Atherton Phleger

Last Updated:
Saturday
June 1, 2013

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Ibex's misspelling of "zephyr" is not indicative of a systemic inattention to detail, at least as far as their products are concerned. The Zepher is well made, with tight seams, consistent stitching and excellent craftsmanship. We loved the Zepher for its decadent comfort and warmth, but we felt that the range of potential applications was smaller than with many other baselayers we tested.

Product Comparison


Warmth


The Zepher is warm. Almost too warm. The Zepher can function as a solo layer in nearly any temperature, and we often overheated when we tried to layer it. This wasn't really a problem, but it did mean that the Zepher would typically stay in our pack until the temperature dropped below zero. Essentially, the Zepher functions better as an insulation layer than a base layer.

Comfort/Fit


I imagine the sensation of being smothered by chinchillas is somewhat similar to wearing the Ibex Zepher. I'm not sure how Ibex creates the Zepher's supple texture, but its results are remarkable. The Zepher has the loosest fit of the baselayers we tested. This allowed us to layer it over tighter shirts, like the Icebreaker Oasis or GT, very easily. The loose fit drew the Zepher away from classic baselayer uses. We found it more useful as a sweater than a base.

Wicking


The Zepher didn't wick very well. This is, in part, due to its thickness, and in part due to the material. Wool does not wick as well as synthetic. Additionally, the Zepher is a thicker fabric than the Icebreaker GT and similar shirts, which impedes wicking. But the Zepher weathers the muggyness like a champ, staying suede-soft through the entire ordeal.

Value


The Zepher is expensive; the most expensive layer we tested. You certainly will not regret owning the Zepher, but the dead air in your wallet may sour the tasty microclimate that the zepher would otherwise create. The choice is yours. The Aepher is a very high-quality baselayer, but there are definitely cheaper options.



Best Application


The Zepher straddles an uncomfortable gray area between true base layer and a thicker insulation layer. Except in very cold or very low-movement activities, we usually prefer using the Zepher as insulation over a tight-fitting baselayer (the Icebreaker Oasis, for example). The Zepher has the peculiar difficulty of being just too warm to work as the absolute base in most instances.

Consequently, the Zepher has a useful range slightly less than that of the Icebreaker GT or Capilene 3. The Zepher is great as a secondary layer during winter activities. We'll typically keep it in our pack until the barometer drops and flakes start falling, or until we're cozying up with a mug by a fire. (The Zepher is definitely the best for lounging). We also found kayaking to be a perfect application. If you use a drytop rather than a wetsuit, the Zepher is great insulation. If you end up swimming, the Zepher will feel warm and dry long after a thinner layer would have thrown up its sleeves in despair.

Atherton Phleger


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Most recent review: March 18, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Skier

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   Mar 18, 2015 - 03:47am
Gustav · Skier · Lakes Region, New Hampshire

I purchased the zepher about 3 years ago. I also bought patagonia merino 3 and smartwool midweight tops. The ibex zepher is the best of that bunch. Fit is fantastic (semi-fit), hand of the fabric is exceptional, and the sleeve length is spot on. (I'm 5'7" and wear a 33/34" sleeve.) The zepher is a beautiful base layer as well as a stand alone garment capable of being in worn in any social setting. Smartwool tops are similar, yet of a thinner fabric. Patagonia's merino 3 is very nice, but arm length on most of their products fit as if you are a mid 20s climber with no body fat and gangly arms.

I wear the zepher as a base layer under an r1 or cap 4 zip t-neck. It's just as well suited for a night on the town. If you're looking for short sleeves, try the Ibex 17.5 I also have an icebreaker zipneck. It is nice, but the fit and quality does not compare to either Ibex or Smartwool.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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