The Kaipara MERINO HOODY SWEAT JACKET 270 is a 100% merino woolen midlayer that’s “Born in New Zealand. Made in Germany” – so their slogan.
Who is Kaipara?
Kaipara, translated from the Maori language in New Zealand – means “sports competition”. The message behind this label is to create sustainable sportswear for sporty environmentalists, mountaineers and outdoor individuals alike. Frank Selter, is the man behind the small, yet sympathetic brand in Allmannshofen, south of Germany. Being a climber and mountaineer himself with a long background in the fashion industry, Frank understands what’s relevant in sport garments when it comes to functionality and design.
Kaipara’s merino wool from New Zealand is MAPP and ZQ-Merino certified which stands for the highest standards in terms of fiber quality, environmental sustainability, animal welfare standards, and social responsibility. These standards prohibit the barbaric and painful procedure called “mulesing” of the free-range animals.
Why Merino ?
Merino wool plays an important part in terms of functionality – unlike contemporary wool, merino feels smooth to the skin and doesn’t itch. Wool warms much better than any other fabric, it absorbs perspiration, transports this away from the body and continues insulating. If you use a cotton tee, let’s say on a hiking tour, after hours of sweating uphill, the change of dropping temperatures in altitude and a wet shirt will make you feel cold. A merino shirt would still warm you in that situation.
My favorite garments for sports are either in polyester or wool. Polyester, because it absorbs perspiration and disperses it quickly – it’s great for hot summerly days. Merino wool, because it does all that too and warms at the same time. You can read my earlier experience with merino in summer here. Cotton shirts are reserved for anything after the exercises. Gone are the days when I would use cotton for any sports activity. A further advantage of wool is, it doesn’t “stink”.
There was a slim fit and a regular fit sizing. Their size tables go exactly according to the measurements of your body, so it’s best if you check them here. Everything was saying that I should take the regular fit in xs. Knowing that I would usually wear a long-sleeved t-shirt under the sweater, I finally chose the bigger size (S) so that I wouldn’t end up looking like a stuffed sausage. (I usually wear size EU 36) When the sweater came, it was exactly like how I thought it would be. Perfect!
Design and features
The jacket has a thumb loop at the cuffs that covers and warms the wrists. The sweater goes a little longer over the hips to keep the cold air from blowing in. There are 2 front zip pockets and the front 2-way zipper goes right up till the chin into the zipper garage. The hoodie keeps any draft away from the neck on windy days and when it’s all zipped up. The inside of the jacket are ruffled up for more warmth
Kaipara’s design is kept straight forward – no frills. There’s nothing more than what you essentially need on the go. The cutting for ladies is generally figure-hugging, but not too tight.
Their apparels come in different fabric quality – 150g/m, 200g/m2 and the thickest with 270g / m2 as the thickest and warmest insulation
Performance and the test
With all this at the back of my mind, my new sweater from Kaipara was packed in for our road trip. We left to spend the winter in warmer regions of the European continent, climbing as we go. What we didn’t know was how long we were going to be traveling. And that was why it was an important choice for me to take as many merino clothing along as possible. Laundry washing was going to be a foreign word. And Merino is one of the reliable fabrics that stays “unstinkable” for a longer time.
For the next 2 months, I wore the jacket each day to the cliffs and then during the cold evenings in the tent (!) The sweater, once combined with an outer windproof jacket, was unbeatable. Having a woolen sweater with me at all times was priceless because it insulates also while you’re not moving.
What fascinated me most was when we once went out for dinner and came back from that location smelling like we came out from the kitchen. Desperate, I left the Kaipara jacket overnight to air. The next morning, most of the smell was gone. 2 more days of airing and the jacket was neutral again. No airing in the world helped get the fatty smell away from my cotton jeans and T-shirt. They had to be washed. Nothing worse than having fatty smells for breakfast. Yikes!
So after 2 months of sweat accumulation, dust and dirt, cliffs and sea salt, fireplaces, the jacket smelt surprisingly neutral. Thank goodness I had chosen the jacket in black so I didn’t have to see how dirty it was. There were no signs of peeling even though I had the jacket numerous times under a heavy backpack with loads of friction. Thumbs up for that.
Finally, when we reached home, the jacket saw the washing machine for the first time. 40°c in the usual wash without using any fabric softener, made it come out looking brand new. The jacket stayed in shape.
It’s now my favorite midlayer jacket not only for the outdoors but on the couch too.
Things I liked:
- insulates during inactivity
- absorbs and disperses perspiration as you go and thus keeping the body ventilated
- No pilling
- Good fitting, pockets were placed well and were not too small.
- Designed in Allgäu and sewn in Unterfranken making all Labels from Kaipara a true “Made in Germany” product.
- Dries quickly even though it’s fairly thick 270g/m2 material – 100% wool, no other materials involved.
- Perfect for autumn and winter, long trips when regular laundry is a problem
What could be better:
- The cuffs could be a wee bit tighter and softer than the sleeves so that cold air doesn’t get in.
- The 2 way Zipper at the front starts above the seam. (i.e. about 2 cm above the rim) I found this quite unusual, as all other jackets I own starts always at the very bottom. (see image example) For me, it was quite fumbly to bring the 2-way zippers together.
The Kaipara HOODY SWEAT JACKET 270 is a Mid-Layer and costs 220 € EUR. All their products are available exclusively in their online store. Their product line ranges from sportswear to urban wear. Corinna from Outdoormädchen.de reviewed her experiences in german with the Urban wear from Kaipara here.
*Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.