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Ortovox Merino Windbreaker Review

All of the advantages of Merino, blended into a wind and weather resistant outerlayer
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Ortovox Merino Windbreaker Review
Credit: Ortovox
Price:  $185 List
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Manufacturer:   Ortovox
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 9, 2023
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 8
  • Wind Resistance - 30% 9.0
  • Breathability and Venting - 30% 7.0
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 5.0
  • Fit and Functionality - 10% 6.0
  • Water Resistance - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you could rock your beloved Merino baselayer on the outside of your kit? Enter the Ortovox Merino windbreaker, a revolutionary jacket that blends Merino wool and nylon into a single, weather-resistant outer layer. We found that this proprietary blend offers incredible wind-stopping power for its lightweight texture. This jacket benefits from the addition of wool fibers when it comes to moisture-wicking and breathability, as well as the all-natural hydrophobia supported by a DWR finish. Thoughtful design points — like an oversized chest pocket — are almost hidden from plain sight in this enigma of a jacket. While there is space for improvement in fit, particularly with regard to torso length, we love the Merino windbreaker as a lightweight alpine option.
REASONS TO BUY
Futuristic Merino/nylon weave
Wind resistance-to-weight ratio
Size of chest pocket
REASONS TO AVOID
Awkward fit
Oversized packed-parcel
Expensive
Editor's Note: We updated this review on May 9, 2023 to share info on the updated version of this wind jacket.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $185 List
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$109.00 at REI
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Bottom Line The benefits you love from you Merino baselayer, re-designed as an alpine outerlayerOur Editor’s Choice for its simplicity, price, and solid performance in a lightweight packageMade for the mountains, this ultralight jacket will help you push your limitsUnique Diamond Fuse fabric adds extra durability and longevity to this clean, technical shellA solid balance of wind resistance and breathability, all offered at an unbeatable price point
Rating Categories Ortovox Merino Wind... Patagonia Houdini -... Black Diamond Dista... Outdoor Research He... Rab Vital Hoody - M...
Wind Resistance (30%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Breathability and Venting (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Weight and Packability (20%)
5.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Fit and Functionality (10%)
6.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Water Resistance (10%)
7.0
8.0
3.0
5.0
8.0
Specs Ortovox Merino Wind... Patagonia Houdini -... Black Diamond Dista... Outdoor Research He... Rab Vital Hoody - M...
Measured Weight (size M) 5.5 oz 3.9 oz (size L) 3.5 oz 5.0 oz 4.8 oz
Material 55% Merino wool / 45% polyamide, DWR coating 100% nylon ripstop, DWR finish 100% nylon ripstop, woven w/ DWR treatment (Green Theme Technology) 100% Pertex Diamond Fuse (100% nylon ripstop) 20D Atmos woven nylon with fluorocarbon-free DWR
Pockets 1 zip chest 1 zip chest 1 zip chest 1 zip chest 2 zip hand
Safety Reflective Material Yes, reflective logos on chest, right arm, and upper left back No (company states reflective logo on left chest, too small to really be visible) No Yes, reflective logo Yes, reflective logo on chest
Stowable Pocket Yes: chest pocket Yes: chest pocket Yes: chest pocket Yes: chest pocket No; included stuff sack
Cuff Style Half Elastic Half Elastic Elastic Half Elastic Half Elastic
Helmet Compatible Hood No Yes Yes Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ortovox Windbreaker we tested is pictured on the left, and the updated model is shown on the right.
Jacket Updated — May 2023
Since our test cycle, Ortovox has updated this jacket with a new look. We've yet to test the updated version, so be aware that our review pertains to the previous model. However, our affiliate links point to the updated Ortovox Windbreaker.

We've been excited to get our hands on this jacket since it was first previewed out Outdoor Retailer in the summer of 2018. The Ortovox Merino windbreaker is designed with proprietary “Merino Protect” — a revolutionary weave that incorporates Merino wool and nylon in a single layer. While this new technology didn't quite transform the category in the way that we once expected it might, this Merino windbreaker does shake things up when it comes to redefining expectations of a weight-to-wind resistance ratio.

Performance Comparison


ortovox merino windbreaker - weather resistant enough to break trail in an early season storm...
Weather resistant enough to break trail in an early season storm, warm and breathable enough to wear as your only outerlayer over a lightweight Merino baselayer.
Credit: Jill Rice

Wind Resistance


Even though it weighs in at only an ounce more than our lightest jacket, the Merino windbreaker feels much more substantial than many of the other wind jackets we tested — and, as a result, does a great job in blocking the wind. In our lab testing, this new material was by far the hardest to force air through, and this showed in the field. Standing on an alpine ridgeline during a ski tour, this thick-feeling jacket kept us warm and protected against a cold, strong winter wind.

ortovox merino windbreaker - this jacket incorporates simple features to help keep you protected...
This jacket incorporates simple features to help keep you protected from even a strong winter wind.
Credit: Jill Rice

The sturdy zipper is reinforced with a storm flap, and every hem and cuff is supported by a thick elastic, even the front of the hood. We particularly appreciate this thoughtful addition, as many hoods — even when cinched down — struggle to stay attached to your forehead in a strong wind. The elastic hem around the waist could benefit from the support of a cinch, as this single barricade didn't keep the wind from blowing up into our core as much as we had hoped.

ortovox merino windbreaker - we love the elastic strap around the forehead, which does a...
We love the elastic strap around the forehead, which does a particularly good job of keeping our hat on when the wind picks up.
Credit: Jill Rice

Breathability and Venting


The Merino windbreaker feels a bit heavy to grab before heading out on your next run, but we were happily impressed by the breathability of this new fabric. This jacket does not include any vents, so there is some heat pooling, particularly around the upper armpits and shoulder blades. But there is an unexpected airiness in the chest and core, and although it's sticky while actively sweating, the jacket quickly dries off on your body.

ortovox merino windbreaker - warm and breathable, this jacket works well when training in cold...
Warm and breathable, this jacket works well when training in cold weather, but is definitely designed for the alpine over the city.
Credit: Jill Rice

A particularly interesting observation we noticed during an extended uphill run is that while the fabric gets damp during high-output activity, there are no moisture droplets visible on the inside. Just like a Merino wool baselayer, the blended fabric of the Merino baselayer works to actively wick up and evaporate sweat, leaving you dry and comfortable to keep pushing your limits.

Weight and Packability


The Merino Windbreaker feels much heavier than many other competitors when you first pick it up. But weigh and compare them all side-by-side, and this jacket tips the scales at only half an ounce more than most other models.

ortovox merino windbreaker - more packable than it looks, we found that this parcel could easily...
More packable than it looks, we found that this parcel could easily be compressed into a much smaller package.
Credit: Jill Rice

The jacket packs into its own massive chest pocket, resulting in a parcel that is thin but much larger than it needs to be — the packed pocket could be easily downsized without losing any function. In fact, while you would think that an extra-large pocket would make packing easier, we noticed that the bunched material often needs to be held in place to ensure that it doesn't get caught up in the zipper. To their credit, the designers did include a storm flap that both hides the chest pocket and helps prevent zipper catch when inverted, a very thoughtful design point.

ortovox merino windbreaker - a blessing and a curse... this oversized pocket is able to fit so...
A blessing and a curse... this oversized pocket is able to fit so much more than a cellphone, but we often found our items fell out when we went to open it back up.
Credit: Jill Rice

Fit and Functionality


A lot of thought was put into material research and design, but we feel the Merino Windbreaker has room for improvement when it comes to fit. We expected a classically tighter fitting, Euro-styled cut to this jacket, but it has a very short torso and a snug elastic waistband that we were constantly adjusting to try and pull down over our waistline.

ortovox merino windbreaker - an awkwardly short torso that rides up every time we lifted our...
An awkwardly short torso that rides up every time we lifted our arms, despite an elastic band designed to help hold the hem in place.
Credit: Jill Rice

As mentioned above, this jacket includes many features to improve wind resistance — a storm flap behind the zipper, a fully elastic hem, half-elastic cuffs with an extension to help cover the back of the hand, a slight drop seat, and most importantly, an elastic band in front and back to lock down the hood. Initially, we thought the huge chest pocket — tall enough to fit a full-size UTM map (!) — was an awesome break from the norm, only to find our phone and gloves constantly falling out as we tried to zip it up.

ortovox merino windbreaker - if you were wondering, there is merino spliced into this jacket, and...
If you were wondering, there IS Merino spliced into this jacket, and all of the benefits that come from incorporating this magical material.
Credit: Jill Rice

Water Resistance


All of the benefits we know and love of Merino wool — the unmatched thermoregulation and insulation when wet — come through in this jacket, thanks to the revolutionary blend of 55% Merino wool and 45% nylon into a single-layer fabric. This magic material is backed by a DWR coating, which makes the Merino windbreaker feel more substantial than its weight suggests.

ortovox merino windbreaker - a perfect option when the snow fell last night, but the sun is out...
A perfect option when the snow fell last night, but the sun is out and shining today.
Credit: Jill Rice

In a light rain down low, and heavy snowfall up high, this jacket proved its worth as a lightweight alternative to a rain jacket. We noticed in our lab testing that while the Merino Protect material is visibly dampened by water running down the outside, underneath our clothes stayed completely dry.

ortovox merino windbreaker - dry on the outside, a little damp through the middle, but completely...
Dry on the outside, a little damp through the middle, but completely dry on the inside. Exactly what we would expect from a Merino wool layer.
Credit: Jill Rice

Value


If you strive to be the kid on the block with the newest and coolest technology, then the Merino windbreaker is justifiable. But otherwise, we find it difficult to reconcile the steep price tag attached to this innovative piece of technical outerwear, especially when compared directly to other, better-performing jackets in this category.

ortovox merino windbreaker - awesome in the alpine, but this jacket will cost you about as much...
Awesome in the alpine, but this jacket will cost you about as much as a lift ticket to a major ski resort.
Credit: Jill Rice

Conclusion


The Ortovox Merino windbreaker is an example of material technology that may well be a revolution for lightweight, technical outerwear. While it may benefit from some design adjustments — and a healthy dose of market competition to help lower the price tag — we're excited to see how this piece influences the future of wind jackets.

Aaron Rice