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With fall right around the corner, it is time to prepare for the change in temperatures so that you can continue to enjoy the activities that you love, even if the weather isn’t perfect. The Smartwool PhD Run Divide Jacket is a piece that every runner should check out. I tested the jacket for about 3 months last winter/spring and am looking forward to donning the jacket again this fall.
The Smartwool PhD Run Divide Jacket is available in both men’s and women’s models and sizing. The comments and particulars of this review will focus on the women’s model. However, many of the same features and especially the fabric qualities, apply to both.
The Smartwool PhD Run Divide Jacket features a combination of Elastane (16%), Nylon (45%), and Merino Wool (39%). Smartwool has mixed these fabrics throughout the jacket to provide protection, breathability, and stretch where you need it most.
For starters, the Smartwool PhD Run Divide Jacket features windproof, and water resistant, panels on the front of the jacket and on the top, or outer portion of the arms. These panels are composed of nylon and Elastane to help keep you protected, while also remaining pliable and moving with you. Underneath these panels is a layer of merino wool to add insulation, moisture wicking, and softness. The back panel and underarms are light weight and composed of polyester, making them breathable in the areas of greatest heat production. The entire collar of the jacket also features merino wool lining. The transition between the various fabrics is mostly flat lock seams in the high friction areas, such as under the arms, along the shoulders. This feature is important to prevent bulging of the fabric painful seams if the wearer has a pack on.
The Smartwool PhD Run Divide Jacket ran true to size with a semi formed fit. The jacket is available in XS to XL. It was easy to place a baselayer, or two, underneath the jacket without feeling restricted or tight in the arms or shoulders. The arm length is very generous as it allows you to take advantage of the integrated flip mitt (detailed below), without feeling as if your arms are cramped or held at an odd angle while running. The jackets’ collar is 3 inches high and is the perfect degree of tightness as it keeps out snow and wind, without feeling restrictive. The center back length is 27″ for a size medium, a full 2″ longer than the front of the jacket which allows the jacket to keep you well covered from cold breezes. The jackets material is heavier than a nylon jacket, which helps to keep the jacket from billowing up with gusts of wind and does not require a cinch or drawstring along the hem.
Features of the Smartwool Run Divide Jacket
This jacket features many bonuses that are not apparent to the naked eye. For instance, each sleeve is equipped with a soft merino cuff that has an integrated flip mitt or flap of fabric that can be pulled over for added warm to your hands. There is also integrated thumb holes within the mitt. I have been testing a prototype model and did not have the integrated thumb loop and apologize for not being able to comment more specifically on the function of the loop.****
There is a small pocket on the left chest for media storage with a small opening for routing your earphone cord. This pocket can fit a smartphone, however the back of this pocket is merino wool and larger devices bounce up and down quite easily. I typically used this pocket for my gym card and house key only, because this is the only pocket on this jacket.
Smartwool has incorporated small hits of reflectivity along the left chest pocket, on each hip, and a rear Smartwool reflective logo. This jacket will help you be seen, but is by no means engineered or classified as a high visibility jacket. Next time I would like to see some reflective hits along the sleeves to help with visibility from the side profile.
Smartwool PhD Run Divide Jacket Performance
Testing the Smartwool PhD Run Divide Jacket in cold damp temperatures allowed the jacket to shine. Placing the windproof material in areas where you need it most was the key to excellence with this jacket. Many times, winter running jackets are windproof and waterproof everywhere and this leads to a build up heat and ultimately a soggy-wet and eventually cold run because there is no place for the heat to escape. Placing breathable panels in the back panels of this jacket helps to avoid this problem. I also didn’t find that the back panel was too thin or inadequate for protection when running with the wind at my back. This jacket was my go to for temperatures between 10F and 40F. I did continue to wear the jacket with colder temps but found that adding a second baselayer was key to continued comfort.
A traditional nylon or polyester jacket often becomes odor-ific or smelly after a few wears. The addition of merino wool to the lining of this jacket helps to combat this problem, as merino wool is known to be naturally odor resistant.