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Review: Wool-Based ‘Active Jacket’

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In Minnesota, my home state, it’s getting chilly outside though full-on winter has not yet arrived. Each year at about this time I face the “what do I wear on my run” conundrum. With temps between 20 and 40 degrees, it’s too cool for a long-sleeve running shirt yet warm enough that my winter jackets will not work.

For these in-between fall and early-winter days, when I am active outdoors I have found a solution in a piece from Ibex Outdoor Clothing. The Breakaway 2 jacket is a thin nylon and merino wool piece that’s billed as “not too warm but protecting from the cold.”

Breathable, wool-based jacket for “not-so-cold” active days

What does that seemingly contradictory description mean? Basically, the jacket insulates minimally but it will block wind and “breathe” as you sweat. The front of the jacket is a nylon-based material that wind bounces off; on back, a thin ply of merino wool lets air move freely through the fabric, venting sweat moisture in the process.

Even on winter days, I often overheat and sweat through my base layers, creating a wet and clammy environment. A jacket like the Breakaway, with its thin, non-waterproof fabric, helps manage the sweat but also keeps me warm enough if the winds pick up.

Breakaway 2 jacket from Ibex

The Breakaway has a streamlined, hood-less design perfect for running or XC skiing. There’s a big zipper pocket on back reminiscent of something seen on a bike jersey. That rear pouch is made for stashing gloves and a hat as you heat up on a run, and it’s a nice, if unusual, touch.

A small chest pocket will hold your keys and energy gels. There’s a large reflective strip on the left sleeve to keep you visible at night when car headlights grace the coat. Overall, the Breakaway fits close, and its high waist and articulated elbows are perfect for a body on the move.

Rear view: Note bike jersey zip pocket

I wear a single base-layer top under the Breakaway when running outdoors in temps down to about 25 degrees. Below that, the jacket will work with more layers, though its tight fit precludes a lot of extra internal layered bulk.

The Ibex jacket, made in Canada, is not cheap, retailing for $275 msrp. But online I have seen it for $100 less than that price tag. Worth the money? If you’re an aerobic type looking for an outerwear solution on those not-so-cold days, the Breakaway might be your ideal active outdoors coat.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

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