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Ortovox Merino Windbreaker - Women's Review

An athletic-chic jacket that works well for moderate output and cooler temps
Ortovox Merino Windbreaker - Women's
Photo: Ortovox
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Price:  $200 List | $200.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Good temperature control in variable conditions, excellent hood, comfortable, good cuffs
Cons:  Not overly breathable, sleeves a bit short, minimal rain protection
Manufacturer:   Ortovox
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 8, 2020
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Wind Resistance - 30% 7
  • Breathability - 30% 5
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 10% 7
  • Water Resistance - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Orotovox Merino is one of a handful of wool blend options available and provides solid temperature control under changing conditions. The well-fitted hood and half elastic cuffs and hem keep it simple and functional while the 55% wool interior helps regulate your temperature. It's not the most breathable option for high output activities (like running), and it barely repels rain for longer than a few minutes. While we wish the sleeves were slightly longer, we really enjoy this comfortable, stylishly athletic windbreaker for casual, everyday use.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $200.00 at Amazon$169.00 at Backcountry$99.00 at Backcountry$98.95 at Amazon$159.00 at Amazon
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Pros Good temperature control in variable conditions, excellent hood, comfortable, good cuffsLightweight, very breathable, comfortable fit & feel, flexible, great cuffsHelmet compatible, lightweight, extremely packable, dries quicklyMany pockets, more waterproof, excellent wind protection, snap to allow unzipping during wearVery flexible, flattering fit, long torso, comfortable cuff
Cons Not overly breathable, sleeves a bit short, minimal rain protectionSlim fit difficult to layer, not ideal for really cold windNot the most waterproof, can see through thin fabricElastic cuffs harsh, thin fabric can be seen through, large packed sizeGets wet very easily, thicker fabric is heavier
Bottom Line A stylish, athletic option that layers well for cooler weather and moderate output activitiesA protective, packable, and very breathable jacket that keeps you on the move in just about any weatherA favorite for years, the Houdini is a staple whose modest $99 price tag belies its impressive performanceWith more features than we expected from a technical jacket, this windbreaker offers excellent protection in the outdoorsThis versatile jacket can take you on grand outdoor adventures or just around the town
Rating Categories Merino Windbreaker Houdini Air Patagonia Houdini - Women's Rab Vital Hoody - Women's Alpine Start
Wind Resistance (30%)
7
8
8
9
8
Breathability (30%)
5
8
7
6
8
Weight And Packability (20%)
8
9
10
8
6
Versatility (10%)
7
8
7
7
9
Water Resistance (10%)
5
8
7
8
5
Specs Merino Windbreaker Houdini Air Patagonia Houdini... Rab Vital Hoody -... Alpine Start
Weight (oz) 4.7 oz 3.4 oz 3.1 oz 5.0 oz 6.7 oz
Material 55% Merino wool, 45% polyamide 40604 90% nylon (51% recycled), 10% polyester double weave with DWR treatment 100% nylon ripstop with DWR (durable water repellent) treatment Hyperlite and nylon outer Schoeller® stretch-woven nylon with NanoSphere® Technology
Pockets 1 chest 1 chest 1 chest 2 hand, 1 inner zip and 2 inner open-top 1 chest
Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cuffs Half elastic Half elastic Half elastic Half elastic Elastic
Stuffs Into Pocket Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Safety Reflective Material Reflective logo (front, back and sleeve) Reflective front logo Reflective logo on front and back Reflective logo on front and back None
Fit Regular fit Slim fit Slim fit Regular fit Slim fit

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ortovox Merino Windbreaker is a full-zip jacket with a fitted hood, made of 55% merino wool and 45% polyamide 40604 (a type of nylon). It features a regular fit and a single large chest pocket on the left side.

Performance Comparison


Though not the best choice for running, we still tried anyway.
Though not the best choice for running, we still tried anyway.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Wind Resistance


The Ortovox windbreaker provides decent protection against the wind. The fabric itself is fairly protective, and a storm flap behind the zipper adds a little extra layer. Half elastic cuffs and a hem with elastic around the back help keep the garment from letting in too much breeze. The hood is also one of our absolute favorites, as it's fitted without being too tight, still has a small brim over your eyes, and is exceptionally good at staying up even in strong winds. While we appreciate the simplicity of this jacket, it lacks any sort of adjustability to be cinched even tighter when you need it or loosened to improve airflow when you don't. We also wish the sleeves could be a little bit longer, as they can't quite be stretched down to cover your hands when you're really cold.

This jacket has one of our favorite hoods of the bunch. it's not...
This jacket has one of our favorite hoods of the bunch. it's not adjustable but the combination of elastic bands, a tall chin, and top brim make it a secure and comfortable choice even in high winds.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Breathability


Despite this windbreaker being advertised as having "high breathability", we aren't impressed by it, at least not in comparison to some contenders. It's permeable enough that sweat doesn't condense on the inside, but actually will soak up your sweat during a run or intense bike ride. The cuffs are comfortable enough to push up your sleeves without leaving giant red marks on your forearms, and the fabric is soft enough to wear comfortably over bare skin. However, it lacks any specifically breathable features like vents, extra stability to unzip farther, or even simply the ability to loosen the hem to encourage a cross breeze. For low to moderate intensity activities, we think the regulatory properties of this wool-blend work very well, but when it comes to strenuous adventures, we are less excited to wear this jacket.

Unlike most windbreakers that collect condensed sweat on the inside...
Unlike most windbreakers that collect condensed sweat on the inside, the Orotovox simply soaks it up, as you can see as a dark splotch in this post-run photo
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Weight and Packability


Weighing 4.7 ounces, this coat falls in about the low-middle of the pack when it comes to weight. You can stash this jacket in its chest pocket. This pocket is impressively large, making it easy to fit the whole jacket without a struggle, but leaving you with a fairly large package at the end of the process. It also features a carabiner loop, but it's so large packed up that we don't love clipping it to the outside of our packs and would rather just stuff it in the bottom - which is very easy to do. And while it seems like a sturdy enough, well-made jacket, it's one of the few we tested that isn't comprised of ripstop material. That being said, we actually had no issues with snags or tearing during our intensive testing process.

The Ortovox easily packs into its fairly large chest pocket.
The Ortovox easily packs into its fairly large chest pocket.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Versatility


The Ortovox has fairly non-specific features that make it a great option for an everyday windbreaker that can take you just as easily through the park as it can to the store. Its wool-based composition and good coverage make it a solid choice for mild weather protection and an extra layer that's easy to toss on. We also find it comfortable and athletically stylish, with neat colors and patterns that are interesting without being too loud. It's not the perfect choice to get all sweaty in or layer over a particularly bulky sweatshirt, but we think it's a solid choice for everyday use.

Though the hood lacks any adjustability, a simple elastic band...
Though the hood lacks any adjustability, a simple elastic band around the back effectively regulates the fit.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Water Resistance


Unfortunately, this is one area where the Ortovox Merino falls short. Though it has a DWR coating, we found this makes a very small difference compared to other models we tested. While no windbreaker can replace a rain jacket in a rainstorm, this one just isn't impressive even with those low expectations. Initially, water beads on the outside of the jacket, but unless it's wiped away, that water will soak into the fabric after several minutes. Even a very light, intermittent sprinkle during one particular excursion managed to wet the arms enough to stick to our skin. If you're out for a short time in a light rain, you may be alright, but don't expect this windbreaker to keep you dry for long.

Slightly longer on the backs of your hands, the Ortovox provides...
Slightly longer on the backs of your hands, the Ortovox provides reasonable coverage.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


As much as there is to like about this casual, comfortable, athletic-chic windbreaker, it's also one of the most expensive options we tested. It's a comfortable choice for everyday wear, but we think other jackets are more versatile and offer much more, for a lower cost. If you're really into the wool movement, Ortovox also makes several other versions of similar jackets (that we have not tested) that advertise additional technical features, water protection, and even insulation.

We're pretty big fans of the athletic-chic look and comfortable fit...
We're pretty big fans of the athletic-chic look and comfortable fit of this partial-wool windbreaker.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Conclusion


For casual, everyday use, we're big fans of the fit and feel of the Orotovox Merino. It provides solid temperature regulation in changing conditions, is soft and comfortable to wear, and has one of our favorite hoods. Though it's not the most breathable model we tested, for lowkey activities, we greatly enjoy the look and experience of this wool blended windbreaker.

We enjoy wearing this windbreaker for casual, everyday activities.
We enjoy wearing this windbreaker for casual, everyday activities.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg