Thursday, February 16, 2006


Okay my current obsession is wool gear from IBEX or Woolistic. I recently purchased several wool SIR club jerseys and for X-Mas hubby gave me a wool vest from IBEX and a jersey - and the wool just keeps on coming. We just celebrated our first Valentines day together as hubby and spouse and an IBEX jacket came my way.

Today in the paper there was an article on wool sportswear and how popular it is becoming - you could have just asked me - I think I'm keeping those folks in business.

Scratch those old woolens for lightweight high-tech fibers
By Dan A. Nelson
Special to the Seattle Times

Wool enjoys a well-earned reputation for warmth --whether wet or dry - and durability. But wool dropped in popularity with the advent of technical synthetic fibers that can be used to make fabrics that wick moisture while still insulating.
Wool teetered on the edge of oblivion in the technical outdoor market, until the entrance of Ibex Outdoor Clothing. Ibex created a line of clothing using new generations of wool that are softer, lighter and more comfortable (i.e., NO itch) than traditional wool. From simple long-sleeve T-shirt designs to wool jackets, the apparel made by the small company based in Woodstock, Vt., proves comfortable for trail or town.
But as fine as their general merchandise is, the best of their line boasts a new highly technical fabric made by the Swiss firm Schoeller Textiles, whose North American base is right here in Seattle.
Dubbed Skifans by Schoeller, the new fabric features a blend of soft, warm wool with the newest generation of four-way stretch synthetics (such as their DrySkin Extreme, used by Cloudveil - See Get in Gear, Aug. 10, 2000). The result is a fabric that offers the warmth and comfort of wool, with the wicking, flexibility and strength of modern synthetics.
Ibex forms the new Skifans into several outerwear pieces. The most versatile are the men's Icefall and women's Cirque jackets. These jackets (essentially the same piece, with slightly different styling and tailoring for each gender) can be used as a straight replacements for standard fleece insulation layers.
But there's a bonus - several actually. The Ibex jackets insulate as well as a midweight fleece jacket but weigh a few ounces less (average weight is 15 ounces) and are far less bulky. The Ibex jackets take up less than half the space in your pack when you have to stash the garment.
The Skifans fabric blocks out wind far better than fleece, and it also is highly water-resistant, meaning you can wear it in a light rain shower or through heavy mist/fog and not worry about getting wet (nor do you have to tug on a less-breathable rain shell in these conditions, meaning you can often leave the shells at home, saving even more weight in your backpack!).
For those days when you are enjoying a highly aerobic activity such as snowshoeing or skiing, the jacket may be too warm. What you need is something to keep your torso protected from the elements. The Glacier/Glade vests (i.e., men's/women's version) do just that.
These Skifans vests follow the same pattern as the jackets, so they fit and perform just as well. Or, for the anorak fans, Ibex offers the Randonee Pullover. All are ideal for classic Northwest weather, no matter the season. They wick away sweat, seal in warmth, block out wind and repel light rain. What more could anyone ask for?
The jackets sell for $225 for the men's Icefall, $198 for the women's Cirque. The vests run $130 and the pullover costs $235.
For more information, contact Ibex Outdoor Clothing, 802-457-9900 or visit
Dan A. Nelson is publications editor and gear specialist for Washington Trails Association.

1 comment:

-ben said...

Blends of wool are very popular for technical wear over at New Zealand. When I was there in 2003, I was amazed at the selection available as well as the design and engineering that went into them. They managed to get merino wool fibers into very thin and consistant diameters, and then utilizing the specific thickness for the proper function.