When I first saw the Ibex Shak Full Zip at the Outdoor Retailer show this winter, I couldn't resist it. I had been looking to experiment with some mid-layer garments, and the Shak immediately made it onto my mental list of candidates. Why? The dense knit merino wool on the Shak is luscious. It is a smoother and tighter knit than any other wool product I had seen, and the weight, look and feel of the Shak were just what I was looking for. Why bother look at such a heavy mid layer? The Shak may not be the mid-layer of choice for an SUL kit, but most of us spend at least as much time on front country day trips or training runs as we do in the backcountry. So I was looking to explore some new fabrics and weights to see how they performed - and maybe find a few surprises.
The Ibex Shak Full Zip is a densely knit merino wool mid-layer. The 390 g/m2 fabric makes ths a heavy mid-layer, but it is a versatile and handsome garment when UL is not your first priority.
The smooth surface of the Shak is as comfortable to me as a merino wool base layer, and the tight knit has another benefit - it repels water like a duck. I've had my Shak out in a handful of moderate rain storms and have yet to have it absorb more than a small amount of water. It breathes very well and fits a niche similar to a good soft shell. Perhaps with more use the Shak might not be quite so water repellent, but so far I'm impressed. My sample is a men's XL and weighs 18.2 ounces and I would estimate that a men's large will weigh about 17 ounces. The construction and overall quality is superb. The locking zipper operates flawlessly and the flatlock seams are a good choice to complement the smooth finish of the Shak. It's my new favorite front-country jacket.
The Shak comes in other styles including the Shak Jersey with an 11 inch zipper, and the Shak Sport, with an 8 inch zipper and contrast colors. It is worth noting that these styles will be lighter than the Full Zip model. The Shak also comes in women's styles. The women's line includes the Shak Jersey, Shak Full Zip and Hooded Shak. The men's Shak Full Zip runs $145 retail. Not a bad price when compared with soft shells that perform a similar function.
The Shak has a moderate turtle neck and a comfortable chin guard that protects your chin from the zipper. The seams are kept off the shoulder. I found the Shak to be very comfortable and breathable when wearing a pack.
Ibex refers to the Shak fabric as dense knit merino wool. And indeed it is dense. Here you can see the tight, comfortable, weather-repelling knit and the flatlock seams.
The chest pocket is large enough for essential items and is backed with a lightweight synthetic mesh.
Features and Specifications
- Manufacturer: Ibex (www.ibexwear.com)
- Model: Shak Full Zip
- Fabric: Dense knit merino wool (390 g/m2)
- Features: Full zipper with locking pull, chest zippered pocket, interior chin guard, flatlock seams, semi-fit cut
- Weight: Approx 17 ounces for men's large (18.2 ounces (515 g) as measured for men's XL)
- MSRP: $145