New for winter technology uses wool instead of down or synthetic down fillings.
We have a sort of inate respect for Smartwool's mission to adapt merino wool to pretty much any clothing use and their latest creation is something called SmartLoft, a technology that uses wool fibres in place of either down or synthetic insulation fibres.
PhD Divide - Hybrid Design
Due out in the UK this autumn, so any time soon, the PhD Divide (pictured) adapts the latest vogue for hybrid insulation pieces with an insulated front core area filled with the merino fibre mixed with sleeves, back and side areas made from pure merino wool. The result, says Smartwool is 'incredibly lightweight' and 'packs down to minimal proportions'.
We're trying to find out just how incredibly light and get some other more specific details, but the claim is that as with other merino wool garments, breathability and moisture management, plus the ability to stay comfortable even when wet gives SmartLoft a performance advantage over the alternatives, particularly down, which collapses when damp.
In essence, you're looking at a warm mid-layer top with a windproof element to it over the core areas plus breathable wool fabric elsewhere. Judging from the images, it's cut sleek and close as well, which should suit fast-moving mountain athletes and thin people particularly, we suspect, in cold,high-mountain conditions and offer a natural alternative to synthetic fills that's still capable of working when wet.
There are also more conventional quilted/baffled insulated jackets made completely from SmartLoft housed in a Nylon shell fabric like the PhD SmartLoft Full Zip Jacket.
We can make out handy pockets for handwarming and wallet storage plus thumb-loops for people who love thumb-loops. And speaking of wallets, the damage isn't inconsiderable with the PhD SmartLoft Divide Full Zip (left) set to sell for £139.99 and the PhD SmartLoft Full Zip for £159.99. Both designs are available for men and women.
More SmartWool information at www.smartwool.com. UK stockist details from 01753 497190.