ProView – Ortovox Swisswool Zebru Jacket
“One jacket to rule them all.” That’s the perfect description for the Orotovox Swisswool Zebru Jacket. Over the last couple of months, I have kayaked across the ocean, climbed in the high sierras, and rafted down the Grand Canyon. Fortunately for me, the Zebru has accompanied me on all of those adventures. The more I’ve used it, the more I’ve been impressed by its warmth, durability, and versatility.
Ortovox Swisswool Zebru Jacket
Product Description: Elastic, lightweight and with optimum insulation: Our NAKED SHEEP never has to freeze on a ski tour, even in the biting cold and in stormy weather, because our ZEBRU JACKET for men from the SWISSWOOL TEC STRETCH series stands for a whole new dimension of lightness and insulation.
Offer price: $280 MSRP
Overall, this jacket has become my go-to for any cold day situation. The combination of weight, insulation, breathability, wind and water resistance make it a layer I could no longer live without. I’m looking forward to taking it out for a walk up some frozen waterfalls and down several steep couloirs. Do yourself a favor and pick this thing up. When you’re high in the alpine, the temps are dropping, the wind is raging, and you’re toasty warm, you’ll thank yourself for buying the gear that works.
- Warm, even when wet
- Wind + Water resistant
- Doesn’t pack into itself (though may on the newer models)
At first, I was pretty skeptical that this lightweight (just over ½ lb) jacket would actually be able to keep me warm. Lifting it from the box it was mailed in, I thought, “No way can something this light insulate me in the Alaskan cold!” None-the-less, I brought it along on my next kayaking expedition. After paddling 28 miles, I stripped from my wet clothes and put on the Zebru. I was immediately impressed by how quickly it thawed me out and kept me warm despite howling winds. This jacket had some serious insulating qualities! That night I went to bed knowing that I was going to stay toasty hot for the remainder of this expedition.
A month later, I was climbing in the high alpine at the base of Cathedral Peak (~10,200’) in Yosemite National Park. The sun was bright, and the temperature hovered around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After the first pitch, the wind was whipping! I pulled on the Zebru and slipped the insulated hood over my helmet. The elastic wrist and waist cuffs completely sealed out the wind and stayed in place as I began to climb. I wasn’t sure how the fabric would hold up against the rough granite rock as I moved upward; when I reached the summit, not a stitch was out of place. This jacket was full of surprises!
On December 1st, I embarked on an 18 day trip down the Grand Canyon. I wore the Zebru every day of this trip. It literally never came off. Most days I didn’t feel that a dry-suit was warranted, so I opted to wear a hard shell with the Zebru underneath. On more than one occasion the frigid water of the mighty Colorado came pouring through the neck of my shell and soaked my clothes. I was stunned by how well the Swisswool insulated me – even when waterlogged. Despite 30 degree temperatures and a wet jacket, I remained warm while rowing the boat. At this point, I was really beginning to think there wasn’t anything this jacket couldn’t do.
Did I mention the Zebru is good for all occasions? The athletic fit and stylish color combo make this jacket great to wear out on the town. Warning: People often confuse me for a European because of the bright colors… Is that a good or bad thing? Additionally, the chest pocket is large enough to fit any size phone or other knickknacks you need to MacGyver out of any situation.
If I could do one thing to improve the design, I would make sure the jacket could be stored in its own chest pocket. The Ortovox website claims this is a feature of the Zebru, but mine did not have this capability–perhaps because it was a pre-release version.
Overall, this jacket has become my go to for any cold day situation. The combination of weight, insulation, breathability, wind and water resistance make it a layer I could no longer live without. I’m looking forward to taking it out for a walk up some frozen waterfalls and down several steep couloirs. Do yourself a favor and pick this thing up. When you’re high in the alpine, the temps are dropping, the wind is raging, and you’re toasty warm, you’ll thank yourself for buying the gear that works.
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David Hanks is a ski patroller, pilot, and photographer. When he’s not working, you’ll hardly find him in the same place for more than a few days. Most recently he’s spent his time flying planes in AK, climbing rocks and ice in the west, and playing in boats of all types. He loves to share his experiences and knowledge with friends old and new. Connect with him on Instagram @Dav1d.hanks.