AH, the Smartwool Corbet 120 ($200). Just feeling the words roll off my tongue makes me warm. Wool, as you know, is the original tech fabric. Humans were summiting 8,000-meter peaks and tending goats in January on the Steppes of Mongolia while wearing wool long before any lab-born textiles were a even a remote idea in someone’s head.
Let’s talk about remote ideas in one’s head for a moment. Cycling-specific jackets, I have found, aren’t exactly known for their warmth. Oh there are a few cycling-specific brands that make jackets for cycling in cold weather (Pearl Izumi nailed it in the Versa Quilted Hoodie, for example) but I live and ride in Minnesota. Our version of cold is single-digits and well below zero.
I set out this winter to test jackets that were traditional cycling jackets and jackets that were geared towards general active pursuits in cold weather. So how did the Smartwool Corbet 120 hold up on the frigid Minnesota bike trails?
What I liked
- Not the most weather-resistant but it still delivers warmth. The Smartwool Corbet 120 is constructed with 120 grams of SmartLoft insulation and heavyweight merino wool. On rides in the low-twenties to low-thirties it did well at blocking cold gusty wind. It is not waterproof but does have a DWR coating that I found worked well at repelling snow and sleet. Although fast rides through melt puddles caused the sleeves and back to become quite wet, I thought the heavyweight merino wool lining did a good job keeping me comfortable in inclement weather. And when it did get wet it dried really fast.
- Breathability is stellar. I’ll come clean here. I hate lab-born synthetics. I really do. While lab-born synthetic tech fabrics may “automatically” sense body temperature and regulate it, merino wool, the original tech fabric, wicks moisture, dries quickly and repels odor naturally. I found that the breathable merino wool of the sides, arms, neck and back, as well as the merino wool liner under the SmartLoft insulation panel, easily transferred the extra heat that built up under the insulated front panel. It also increased my comfort level when the merino wool didn’t trap moisture when wearing a hydration pack. While I still experienced sweat, the Smartwool Corbet managed sweat better than most cycling-specific jackets I tested, like the Pearl Izumi Versa Quilted Hoodie.
- Warm! Insulated with 120 grams of SmartLoft core insulation in the front and constructed with heavy-weight merino wool everywhere else, the Smartwool Corbet proved to be a warm jacket for cycling in temperatures ranging from the low-twenties to low-thirties. Its relaxed fit is a key component of its warmth because it allowed me to wear a heavy-weight merino wool base layer which kept me comfortable in temperatures down to the high-twenties. Thumb loops in the sleeves prevented any cold drafts sneaking in between our tester’s gloves. When riding in temperatures in the low-twenties to low-thirties with very low or no wind-chill, its relaxed fit accommodated a mid-weight merino wool baselayer and a lightweight outer shell, both long-sleeved and vest.
- Versatile. The fact that the Corbet’s construction and cut makes it useable as both a mid-layer and an outer-layer impressed me because it increased the jacket’s versatility as a multi-use active jacket. Hey, I wore it under a Patagonia Adze jacket while snowshoeing on a -20 degree day in Northern Minnesota and didn’t bitch once about my core being cold. This is an outstanding multisport jacket for cold weather.
What I didn’t love so much
- The chest pocket. Condensation did build up significantly on the nylon side of the chest pocket on high-exertion days, causing my iPod to get soaked. It wasn’t damaged because it’s in a case, but if you don’t have a case, and want to ride with your tunes, you should get a case.
- It’s short in the waist when worn as a cycling jacket. I struggled whether or not to mention this, as it’s not the fault of the Corbet. Not everyone is going to use it as a cycling jacket. But if you do, know that it’s shorter in the waist than a standard cycling jacket. While it fully covered my back, it didn’t cover my butt when when in the aggressive cycling position.
While the Smartwool Corbet can very much be used as a minimalistic non-cycling-specific jacket, its greatest feature beyond its outstanding breathability and warmth is its versatility. Because of its relaxed fit and stretch, it can be a midlayer and outer layer, making it an outstanding multisport jacket for cold weather. Oh, the wool construction? Primo.
The Smartwool Corbet 120 is a Gear Gals Piece of Recommended Gear.
SmartwoolCorbet 120 Vest$118.98
SmartWoolSmartWool Corbet 120 Skirt - After layering and bundling for a perfect day in the snow, The SmartWool Corbet 120 Short Skirt allows you minimize your warm apparel, while you still retain cozy warmth and enhance your adorable -fashionable look. Filled with 120g SmartLoft insulation, this SmartWool Corbet Skirt is the ideal cover-up over baselayers or tights. Pull it on for a quick extra layer of backside-warmth while running in the cold as it manages moisture and regulates temperature while a DWR-finished nylon front offers protection against the elements. This zip-up Corbet Short Skirt is an easy essential to wear for cold weather outing and apres-ski adventures around town. . Material: Polyester, Low Rise: No, Warranty: One Year, Waist: Other, Material: Synthetic, Hem Length: Mid-Thigh, Model Year: 2016, Product ID: 403905, Model Number: SP246-001-S, GTIN: 0605284970164$120.00
SmartwoolWith a soft Merino lining, toasty 120g SmartLoft insulation, and water-and-wind-resistant nylon exterior, the Corbet 120 Jacket warms you from the inside out. Knit lining concentrates Merino against the skin and nylon/elastane against the elements. 2 secure zip hand pockets and chest pocket with media cord routing. Merino-lined front panel and collar for sweat and odor management. Integrated thumbhole opening for optional coverage. Center front zipper with draft flap and chin guard. Front Panel: 100% Polyester; Sleeves & Back: 48% Merino Wool, 44% Polyester, 8% Elastane; Lining: 56% Merino Wool, 44% Polyester; Fill: 75% Wool, 25% Polyester.$199.95
SmartWoolSmartWool Corbet 120 Mens Jacket - The SmartWool Corbet 120 Mens Jacket will cover a lot of ground in cold weather conditions. The Corbet 120 starts with Merino Wool softness next to skin, adds heavyweight 120g SmartLoft insulation for ultimate warmth, and is topped off with a DWR-finished nylon facing to help repel water from fabric surface. When used as an insulator under a jacket, The Corbert 120 Jacket delivers generous warmth -a warmer weight of insulation that stands up to your alpine endeavors in cold temperatures - to extreme conditions. The sleek formed-fit is snug, yet, delivers unlimited mobility and protects from the elements. . Wind Protection: Yes, Warmth Factor: Warm, How Does This Fit?: True To Size, Model Year: 2016, Product ID: 403919, Model Number: SP643-031-M, GTIN: 0605284971611, Waterproof Zippers: No, Breathability: Not Specified, Waterproof: Water Resistant (< 5,000mm) , Insulation Type: Wool, Length: Short, Jacket Fit: Slim / Regular, Type: Softshell, Race: No, Battery Heated: No, Breathability Rating: N/S, Waterproof Rating: 5,000mm, Taped Seams: None, Insulation Weight: 120 Grams, Exterior Material: 100% Polyester$200.00
SMARTWOOLWhen a stroll to the coffee shop turns into a more serious adventure, youll be glad you took the Corbet 120 Printed Vest with you. Made with merino wool and SmartLoft wool insulation, this stylish vest features the comfort and performance you need to make the most of Fall outings. Front: 100% polyester. Back: 48% merino wool, 44% polyester, 8% elastane. Lining: 56% merino wool, 44% polyester. Fill: 75% wool, 25% polyester. SmartLoft wool insulation on front. DWR treatment. Wind-resistant. Semi-form fit back of vest concentrates Merino against skin and nylon/elastane against the elements. Two zip hand pockets. Center front zipper with daft flap and chin guard. Internal secure zip chest pocket with media cord routing. Imported.$90.00