The Women’s Powder Hood by Icebreaker is marketed as a “ski sweater” but it makes a great mid-layer for any outdoor activity and everyday wear.
Aesthetically, the Powder Hood is pleasing to the eye. We’ve got the Onyx/Aero version so it is primarily navy with some light blue stripes on the arms. In terms of fit, the Powder Hood is fairly tight fitting although I found that the Raglan sleeves were quite roomy but this may be down to me having puny little arms. There are also little thumbholes.
The shaped hood has stretch properties providing a cosy fit while the front of the hood comes down to just above my eyebrows – a bit further down than most hooded tops. The Powder Hood also has a half zip which provides maximum warmth when zipped all the way to the top. But if the climate gets a bit warmer, it can be zipped down to cool the body. I found this to be a very useful feature. After working up a bit of a sweat walking up a hill, I felt a bit cooler once the zip came down (I actually had to take the top off completely at one point), and once my body had cooled down (helped by the high winds), the zip came back up to the top to provide extra warmth. Returning from my walk, I had a quick sniff, and there was no bad smell. A big thumbs up for the anti-odour property!
As with other Icebreaker garments. the Powder Hood is made from merino wool. Dubbed a “miracle fibre”, merino wool has a whole host of natural performance properties including anti-odour, breathability, quick drying, temperature regulation and moisture wicking. However, one of its most attractive properties is its high level of insulation.
The Powder Hood comes in a 320 g/m2 fabric weight – Icebreaker’s heaviest fabric weight offering. However, the fabric is still low-bulk. Having tested the insulation properties of the top on a short walk, I found that the top had a high warmth to thickness ratio. Considering how lightweight the top was, I was surprised at how much insulation it provided. The top is also compact and can be packed up pretty small. This, coupled with all the other performance properties, makes the top ideal for backpackers.
Overall, a great mid-layer for all activities. The only negative would be that it would have been great if two little hand pockets were incorporated into the top.
The Inca Trail test
The Icebreaker Powder Hood is a great backpacking garment for the winter climate in South America. By day, it is hot. By night, it is cold. The top also packs up pretty small considering how warm it can be.
On the Inca Trail, the Powder Hood was great. Your body cools down quickly at rest stops which meant that you needed a garment to put on to keep you warm. The Powder Hood was perfect for this with the added bonus that it didn´t weight very much. As your body begins to warm up again on the walk, the little zip at the top helps to ventilate the garment before you decide that it is too hot to keep on. At night, it also provided much needed warmth.
Another great feature was the fact that it has anit-odour properties. Given that the trail was 4 days and we had no showers, the top did not smell after the trek. Perfect!