Ortovox Merino Windbreaker - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Good temperature control in variable conditions, excellent hood, comfortable, good cuffs
Cons: Not overly breathable, sleeves a bit short, minimal rain protection
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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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
— Maggie Brandenburg