Rating: 4 / 5
This is the perfect base layer for downhill skiing. The versatility of a hoody with thumb sleeves is unmatched.
The fabric weight is 390 g/m2 of dense ponte-knit 18.5 micron Merino wool. The fabric shows no sign of pilling or other wear after 4 months of frequent use. The workmanship is excellent. The bindings around the sleeve openings, thumb holes, hood, and the zipper chin guard fabric are all made with very soft 17.5 micron Merino wool. The 11 inch front zipper provides plenty of ventilation and does not irritate the skin. When fully zipped the zipper chin guard fabric works well. The length of the sleeves and of the torso with its drop trail is perfect. The total weight of my size large is 20 ounces or 570 grams on my scale. I'm 6'4" and 210 lbs.
I want to make special mention of the thumbhole sleeves because this is a fairly rare feature and I hope to encourage its use in all base layers. Heat loss though the wrists is not insignificant, just look at all the blood vessels visible there. Thumbhole sleeves seal your sleeves from drafts and snow, and keep your hands warmer while performing fine motor skills with your fingers. They can eliminate the need for a liner glove or make it useable over a wider temperature range. They make the warmth of my gloves adjustable. Gloves often have room in the palms for a layer but not in the fingers. They don't ride up when you put gloves or another layer on. Maybe manufacturers don't included them more for some fashion sense but their functionality is unmatched and shouldn't be ignored.
I also want to make special mention of the hood because it is also a rare feature in a base layer. A hood makes adjusting to changing conditions so easy and protects your neck better then a hat can. In the minute or two it takes me to walk from a building to my car I will use my hood when a hat would be more bother than it was worth, assuming I was carrying one. Unlike a hat, a proper hood will stop the bellows effect if so desired. In short, a hood provides more warmth for its weight then a hat and you can't loose it and you don't need a place to store it. The hood on the Hooded Shak fits perfect. It comes around my face without being in the way no matter how I turn my head.
Now for a concern that has turned out not to be a problem but I will monitor this and change my review if it becomes an issue. The seam that runs down the sleeve ends just off center in the palm off my hand. I was initially concerned that this would lead to some irritation with prolonged use of poles, but after spending 3 nonconsecutive days of alpine skiing and a day of nordic skiing I felt no irritation. I was wearing gloves in every case. The seam could be an issue without gloves though I think it won't be.
I hate to end on a negative note but the pocket is a mistake. I would hazard a guess that anyone who has considered this piece for winter activities involving a pack as been immediately turn away by this "feature". In practice the pocket has not been a problem while wearing my pack but I haven't spent much time testing that. The pocket is obviously useless when wearing a pack and while I did use it once to hold a car key I think its utility as a pocket is not worth its drawbacks. I suppose you could argue that it would make a good MP3 player pocket. The pocket makes this a 4 out of 5.