The Icebreaker Hyperia Zoned jacket was born for alpine pursuits but it’s just as comfortable on the city streets, or the windy South Coast, as Jon discovered.
Natural. Ethical. Sustainable. So says the tag on the Icebreaker Hyperia Zoned jacket, and I have to say I agree. I’ve been using Icebreaker gear for a while now, and I totally vibe with their approach to creating comfortable, durable outdoor apparel from an amazing natural material – merino wool.
The Hyperia Zoned jacket was born for alpine pursuits such as hiking, climbing and skiing – so could be the perfect choice if you’re looking to stay warm on your next winter adventure. Yet its clean and refined lines are equally at home on the aprés scene, and I reckon it would have no trouble fitting in on a cold winter’s day in the city too, or – as I was pleased to discover – a damp and windy winter on the chilled out South Coast.
So keep scrolling to discover why Icebreaker has me considering MerinoLoft as an alternative to goose down from here on in.
Let’s get right to it shall we? This jacket, with its MerinoLoft filling, is pretty amazing in terms of its main function – keeping you comfortably warm. I’ve been a fan of merino wool forever – check out my recent review of a merino sleeping bag liner if you don’t believe me.
Initially, though, I think my expectations of this jacket were a bit off – I was expecting a similar feeling and performance to goose down jackets I’ve worn in the past. Goose down is also amazing stuff, very light and warm, yet also a bit bulky – hence the term puffy jacket.
When I first saw the Icebreaker, I could see it was less bulky than I was expecting, so my immediate perception was that it would either be quite heavy due to a more dense insulation layer, or just not as warm as other puffy jackets I’ve used. WRONG! I found the warmth to weight (and bulk) ratio of the Hyperia Zoned jacket to be quite amazing, it felt comfortably toasty while feeling light and free.
Which leads me to the next difference from a standard puffer jacket. Puffers are awesome, but sometimes you just have to go with a less-warm option, otherwise you’ll quickly overheat. Well, not only is Icebreaker’s MerinoLoft warm, but it is phenomenal at regulating your temperature – keeping you nice and toasty, instead of an overcooked sweaty mess.
I consider myself an expert in providing this opinion – I have an excellent metabolism (i.e. I’m a sweaty dude!) and it doesn’t take much for me to overheat. I kept this jacket on far longer than I expected to in fluctuating temperatures, and even wore it in warmer scenarios than I normally would, simply to test this property.
In addition to the inherent breathability of the materials used, there are also 2 zippered chest vents, and the main zipper is a dualie–- meaning you can unzip from the bottom if you need to vent a bit further or fit over a harness.
The final piece in the puzzle that makes the Hyperia jacket more functional than a down puffer for me is the wet weather performance. The Hyperia Zoned jacket is wind and rain resistant, thanks to the outer shell having a PFC-free DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. This worked really well in light showers – the water beaded nicely, and the jacket also cut the wind admirably.
‘Big deal!’ I hear you say, most decent jackets have this… Agreed, but if you get caught out and really get drenched, I’d take the Icebreaker over a puffer any day – goose down hates to get wet, whereas merino wool will help continue to keep you warm even when it’s soaked.
Size and Weight
The Hyperia Zoned jacket comes in at a reasonable weight – this large-sized jacket is 600g. Can you get lighter jackets? Yep. I’m pretty sure you can even get lighter and warmer jackets. If you’re counting grams, then this jacket may not be your first choice, and you’ll probably be happy to sacrifice some of the extra functionality and comfort the Icebreaker has to offer. For me though, every time I put the jacket on I still have that momentary expectation that it should be heavier than it is, which makes it feel lighter than it actually is.
Pretty neat magic trick, Icebreaker.
Like most outdoor gear, this puppy comes with its own stuff sack. You’ll find that merino products don’t compress quite as readily as down does, but it still packs down pretty well. The resulting bundle for the large-sized jacket is about 19cm in diameter and 24cm long. It will also compress down a wee bit smaller than this if space is at a premium in your pack.
Comfort and Design
Overall, I mostly love the design and especially the comfort of this jacket. The sleeves have a lovely, soft storm cuff to stop the wind whistling up to your pits, and the pockets are lined with a luxe layer of fabric for extra comfort. There’s also an extra internal zippered chest pocket – my phone fit nicely in there.
There are a few design features that I don’t like quite as much. These are really quite minor in the overall presentation of the jacket, and could well be things which are just particular to me and my own little brand of OCD. Plus, I only noticed them after wearing the jacket for a little while, so definitely aren’t deal-breakers. But in case you’re as detail-oriented as I am, I’ll fill you in on a few of these little personal annoyances.
The hand pocket zippers and the chest vent zippers look like a continuous zipper, an aesthetic design decision that doesn’t look bad at all. But the end result is the pocket zippers need to be pulled up to open them, and it feels like this is a two-handed job – one hand to hold the bottom of the jacket down while you zip up with the other hand. If the zippers went the other way, I reckon you could unzip your pocket without putting your beer down.
And while I understand the purpose of the dual-direction main zipper (allowing you to unzip from the bottom for ventilation and harness fit), I’ve never been one to put this into practice. This dual zipper is just a tad fiddly to get started when you want to zip up.
As I said, these are pretty minor bugbears – I feel bad even raising them because overall I really am happy with the jacket! Personally, if there was no dual zipper, and the pockets zipped the other way, then this jacket would be almost perfect. What would make it absolutely perfect, I hear you ask? Well, if it had a nice MerinoLoft hood, that would be unreal… luckily there is a Hyperia jacket which does come hooded.
Can you tell I’m just a little bit in love with the Hyperia Zoned Jacket? I’m a huge fan of Icebreaker as a company, with their highly sustainable values and products. I’ve tried to be as unbiased as possible, and the only surprise I did receive was to discover how impressive MerinoLoft is as an insulator. The incredible warmth to weight ratio and temperature regulation blew me away. When combined with merino wool’s other fantastic performance and sustainable properties, I’m now going to be looking towards Icebreaker for alternatives to any future goose down products I need.
Despite a few minor design flaws (which may not bother you at all), my overall impression of this Icebreaker jacket is that it is a fantastic purchase that should last many years. Sure, the price tag is up there with other premium products, but you’re getting a superb quality jacket and the knowledge that you’re supporting a sustainable company with great values.