Smartwool Corbet review, hybrid Merino mid-layer

We tried the Smartwool Corbet in a previous iteration and liked the concept but the execution didn’t quite hit the mark, specially due to zipper problems. The new version for 2016 solves those issues and promises to be a one of the best mid-layers this year.

Smartwool Corbet review: Front

Smartwool Corbet review: specs

If you are not familiar with what Smartwool has been doing lately, the spec for the Corbet read as follows: Insulated and DWR treated front panel lined with Merino for next-to-skin comfort. Sleeve and back use heavy weight Merino, 120g, in Merino-Polyester-Elastane blend (48%, 44%, 8% respectively). Full length front zip with flap and chin guard, two zippered handwarmer pockets and one zippered inner chest pocket. Thumbs hoops. The woman’s size M weighs 344g / 12 oz which is in the average for this type of gear.

Smartwool Corbet review: Back

The Smartwool Corbet 120 has been designed for stop-and-go activities and in our tests it works wonderfully for running, cycling and any other fast-paced pursuits. The core protection provided by the front panel is perfect, fending off the wind while the back and the arms can perspire freely.

A versatile mid-layer

I have used the Corbet as an outer layer mainly for trail running, during our mild winter and cold spring this year. Paired with a short sleeve Merino base layer, that’s all I needed for temperatures in the 5°C to 10°C. If the wind picked up I would add a light softshell, like the Patagonia Traverse jacket.

Smartwool Corbet review: Thumbs hoops

But the Smartwool Corbet is also a great piece when layered under a Hardshell or a heavier insulated jacket. Used on most if the hikes we did with the guys this winter, I specially like the fact that the back is not insulated. When using a backpack I feel I sweat a lot less. And the insulated front means I can zip down my shell to get some airflow going while not getting cold. Even in light rain, the DWR treatment of the front panel means I can keep the hardshell opened.

Refined hybrid construction

Hybrid jackets have come a long way and I feel that they are finally getting the perfect balance. Insulation where it matters, great performance fabric on other areas. And of course when you pair a hybrid construction like this one with the great properties of Merino wool, you make a jacket that excels outdoors. You can wear the Corbet for multi-days hikes and not be bothered by the smell. It dries quickly too.

The improvements made to the 2016 Corbet are notably the use of a different zip. The previous version was getting jammed very frequently. Plus the two handwarmer pocket are now zippered too which feels a lot more secure.

Smartwool Corbet review: Inner pocket

The semi-form fit is also perfect. The Smartwool Corbet is snug, covers well the lower back and does not ride up. It doesn’t feel bulky either. And it comes in great colours, or at least mine did – purple and pink – which is not on Smartwool’s website anymore. I wouldn’t wear it around town due to its very sporty looks but it’s perfect to go to the gym.

Smartwool Corbet review: final words

The real issue with this jacket, and most Merino garment, is the price. At $200 for the Smartwool Corbet, this is very much premium gear territory. You could get great hybrid fleece midlayer like the Rab Firebrand for almost half the price of the Smartwool Corbet. But again, you’d miss on the performance of Merino. Keep you eyes open, there are Smartwool Corbet jacket on offer sometimes, for very attractive prices.