Icebreaker is a cheeky brand. It has the temerity to call some of its merino woolen products “Realfleece,” because it argues that somewhere along the way the outdoor-gear buyer got conned into believing that vests and shirts and coats made of miraculously warm polyester were made of something called “fleece.” Actual fleece, of course, is made of wool, like this cozy Sierra Long Sleeve Zip jacket.
Icebreaker has a point. Several, actually.
The Sierra, in its fairly substantially, 260-gram, midweight material, drapes a lot more fluidly than any synthetic. It’s too heavy for all but the coldest runs, but on hikes and for mountain biking or under a shell for skiing it provides substantial warmth and because of that drape it doesn’t bunch under pack straps or restrict movement. Also, the saving grace of wool: no stink. I’ve rarely even had to wash mine.
Also, it happens to look better, style-wise, than a lot of polyester fleece. Mine has pilled here and there at major rub points, but the effect is of a broken-in sweater, not a broken-down synthetic fleece that’s starting to ossify.
It’s very soft and cozy, and it breathes extremely well. The only downside? Its heft. Synthetics can be very light, while wool at sweater density is not.