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REVIEW

The Ibex Indie Merino Wool Hoodie

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Feb 18, 2022
Reading time

One Shirt To Rule Them All

A lot of my riding gear does double duty as my daily dress as well. It's been that way for over a decade now, and when I'm buying new clothing it's certainly something I think about. There are exceptions; I love my tan & navy Leatt DH pants but you won't see me walking around town in them. My Kitsbow Haskells, on the other hand, are my go-to almost anytime I'm reaching for a pair of shorts. Unless they're hung up to dry, they're in use for commuting, cruising, and chilling out. Which reminds me, I need to get a punched-out pocket fixed before the weather warms up too much.

I started out riding in a Merino wool top ten years ago and my first few pieces were cut as dedicated bike wear. Yes, on a hot day I look like a sea lion in a wet t-shirt contest, but I'm super-comfortable compared to being in a synthetic shirt. Like many riders, I started easily down the path with a pair of socks but the shirts took a bit more convincing. Apparently I was really into super-bright colours, cool graphics and patterns, and the less sweaty look. Even if I was bathing in my own saltwater tank on a sunny day.

Merino balanced the promise of a more comfortable riding experience against a higher cost and less durability and I'll give all the credit to my friend Matt Smith at Obsession:Bikes for pushing my discovery of shorn shirts. It took a couple years after that but, Merino being Merino, I started wearing it for general life as well. Traveling with my family in 2014, I went for an entire month with two long sleeve and two short sleeve Merino shirts. Sometimes with laundry, sometimes washing them in a sink, and sometimes testing all those claims about how many days you can wear wool in a row before folks start noticing.

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Riding my #1FG Kona Honzo in 2014, wearing my favourite long-sleeve Ibex jersey (RIP). I had picked up the jersey at Obsession:Bikes a few years earlier and it was my first choice riding shirt for years after this but eventually wore out. Photo: JacAttack

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I had some amazing days in the forest in December and January this year. With the right gear, and mentality, I'm up for a ride in almost any weather but between some beautiful snowy days and some bright grey mornings this is the nicest new year I can recall. Photo: JacAttack

Since I was wearing Merino all the time, and it's not a great material for jersey pockets anyways, I significantly streamlined my wardrobe by buying casual cuts that I could wear them for riding and life. To this day, I'm generally wearing lighter weight 150 gm2 garments, or blends, in the summer months and as base layers years round. The other three seasons something in a slightly heavier 200 gm2 weight on its own or with a base layer underneath as needed. I'm diligent about washing on cold, hang drying, and never letting anything with Velcro near my Merino stuff, but otherwise I wouldn't say I'm particularly nice to any of my gear. As holes start to develop, and they do, the garments become more for riding and less for daily use, but I certainly make my stuff last for years and years.

I've been wearing this latest love more than any garment I own since it arrived at the end of December. Ibex made some of the first wool pieces that Matt talked me into, and this 185 gm2 Indie Hoodie represents the same double & triple stitched quality as the first pieces I bought. The hood does fit under my helmet, but its presence is actually more of a nod to the universal usage of the piece. I love having a hood for quick layering changes when I'm out and about and this one fits over my head, a hat, or a toque perfectly. I like to wear long sleeves shirts for the same reason. I tend to push them up to my elbows 90% of the time when I'm riding or walking but when I'm waiting for a friend to plug her flat tire, or these days for a bus to arrive, it's nice to pull them down. I know everyone's forearms are different sizes, but for me the Indie sleeves stay put through any activity until I want them to slide down to my wrists.

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I've been wearing this quarter-zipIbex Indie hoodie frequently since January. A couple of days off the bike, then a ride or sometimes two, then wash, hang dry, and repeat. Photo: JacAttack

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Manufacturing quality is tops. I do use the hood when I'm out and about, and I love hoods in general, but I may forgo it if this was going to be strictly a mountain biking piece. Photo: JacAttack

The fabric for the Indie originates in Australia and the sewing is performed in Vietnam in WRAP certified facilities. Ibex actually has quite a developed mission statement when it comes to manufacturing quality and both social and environmental responsibilities and I think they do a good job of clearly listing their commitments on their website. I've heard some folks opine that companies should actually list all their vendors by name so customers can take a more active role in vetting each step of the process but personally, I think Ibex goes farther than most when it comes to accountability while selling product at a competitive price with other high end Merino gear. Check out their write up about their supply chain, environmental and quality accreditations, and other environmental and social actions and let me know what you think.


We Care What You Wear. We believe in actions, not just active wear. That’s why we’re committed to leading the charge for ethical apparel and amplifying the message to buy less but better. Ibex has close relationships with all suppliers and know exactly where our garments are being made taking responsibility for the whole ecosystem." - Ibex
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I wore this piece on almost every ride between when it arrived and the day I ruptured my Achilles. Now I wear it at least a few times a week, taking my daughter to school or running errands. It gets worn a lot, and washed a lot, and it's still like new.

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Stitching quality is top notch throughout and it's all comfy flatlock, which is nice as I do often wear the Indie against bare skin. I'm not the thumb holes type but I understand many runners like them, and this is a very versatile piece.

I'm privileged to have a fair amount of comfortable gear in usable condition and, with in-suite laundry and room to hang dry my stuff, the capacity to look after it. Quality stuff lasts long enough for me that I can justify investing in nice gear when I am due to replace a piece or two. But I'll admit, since much of my gear looks battered and I consider myself something of a minimalist, I occasionally fantasize about having the means and motivation to just replace everything with a small collection of new gear. With smart layering, my daily uniform would absolutely include a pair of Indie Hoodies. Merino t-shirts for summer and as an underlayer for colder rides. Add in my 7Mesh weatherproof vest and jacket for precipitation, plus a couple pairs of Kitsbow Haskell shorts so one's always clean enough. Really the only thing missing is pants that are great for riding in and for casual life. Suggestions?

There's no end to the options for premium gear on the market. Even in the world of 100% Merino wool, choices seem close to countless. If you have a favourite piece from a favourite company that you would just buy again and again without seeking anything else out, that sounds like my perfect scenario. Even factoring in how much I wear it, what I perceive as added value from Ibex's social and environmental goals, and the fact that I'm the sort of person that would rather own a few nice things than a lot of stuff, 170 USD | 215 CAD is a pile of money up front. I'll come back to it in a few years and if it's still meeting my expectations, and getting a similar amount of usage, then I'll declare the Indie Hoodie a solid value in addition to being a really nice piece to wear.

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Comments

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Damn. The level of Blue Steel in that first photo should come with a trigger warning.

I love when I realize I've been wearing something steady for 5+ years and it's really stood the test of time both for performance and durability. But, then I usually get very sad when I realize I can't buy another of the same item. It's either been discontinued or "improved" in a way that's not going to work for me.

I hope you get lucky with this hoodie.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

Ha, thanks Vik. My photographer / 7-year-old was beyond bored at that point so the fact most of my head made it into the photo was a win. 

Yep, I’ve been burned so many times. Especially with gear I love that really lasts. It’s almost like it’s too good so it gets killed off. The worst though is when an unannounced factory change or product tweak changes the fit of a favourite garment without it being broadcast. I’ve had favourite pieces jump a full size or more on the chart or generally exhibit a bit quality drop.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I thought I was so cunning when I found some RF Stage shorts on sale a few years after getting my first pair and loving them...particularly the long inseam. Only to find out they "improved" them by making the inseam shorter without saying anything. **sigh**

BTW - I have a few pieces of Ibex gear from the company's previous incarnation. Definitely the nicest wool gear I have ever owned and very durable.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

Gloves are the worst for that! 

.

My wife still has a couple pieces that are kicking after a decade. I wore mine, and washed mine, so much they eventually died but certainly I'd call them a great value many times over. 

I think this Indie Hoodie is the nicest Merino piece I've owned from anyone - including Smartwool and Icebreaker - but anyway it's worthy of a look.

Reply

HughJass
HughJass
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

You mentioned pants so here is chance for a plug all my friends are tired of hearing! Golf pants from target. $30 USD or so from Target. They are light, breathable, stretchy enough for pads, and dry quickly. They are perfect for cooler days. I have even crashed in them a few times. I tore my Flylow tech flannel but the pants survived despite taking a hit to the knee with g form pads beneath. They fit me like they were tailored for me which is a plus. 

If I knew how to post a photo in here I would!

Reply

4Runner1
4Runner1
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Those look good. And three pairs for the price of my Fox pants. That’s just embarrassing.

Reply

rolly
rolly
3 months, 2 weeks ago
0

After not receiving a reply to my questions regarding pads/chamois, I ordered these. Well, they don't fit over knee pads. I suppose they might fit over really slim ones like Sam Hill Lites, but they didn't over my VPD's. Too bad. They otherwise seem like a good option.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 1 week ago
0

HAHAHAHA. Those actually look really good but when I saw "Wrangler" and "Convertible" I was imagining jeans that zip-off into short-shorts. Figured you must be trolling because no one needs to experience the inner-thigh vs. saddle chaffing of wearing short-shorts on a wet day (speaking from experience).

Reply

rolly
rolly
4 months ago
0

How is the fit? Do they fit over knee pads? Do you wear a chamois? What about leg length? These look interesting.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 1 week ago
0

Sounds like a potential min-max win as long as they aren't covered in golfing logos! 

My daughter has some awesome Adidas pants she rides in and when I'm back on the bike I'm considering acquiring a pair for myself to try.

Reply

mnihiser
mnihiser
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I bought a pair of those Adidas pants from a close-out store for $15.Wear them on cooler days when we are dock jumping the dog. (You will get wet.)  They're great!

Reply

morgan-heater
Morgan Heater
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have one of those from about 2009, and it's been one of my favorite shirts since then. Still works fine even though the sleeves are a bit tattered and it's got lots of stains from messing around with bikes.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 1 week ago
0

It's weird how wool pieces will get holes or a bit tattered and then survive another five years without getting any worse.

Reply

4Runner1
4Runner1
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I just noticed a hole in my merino jersey the other day. Was a sad moment. Hope to get a few years out of it yet. It’s still the best $100 I’ve spent on a piece of kit. It gets worn more than any other piece due to its versatility.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
4 months, 1 week ago
+3 4Runner1 Andrew Major Greg Bly

The good news is those small holes are usually easy to repair and don't impact the performance of the garment. Unless it's something you intend to wear when you need to look good. I have several base layers with holes in 'em and they also don't spread or get larger if I'm careful.

Reply

cyclotoine
cyclotoine
4 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have a few merino sugoi jerseys from over 10 years ago that I live in in winter. They’re getting pretty haggard. 

Last year I bought arc’teryx gamma sl pants because they come in a long version. These are perfect riding pants but since I went medium long (I’m over 6’3” and 190lbs, large we’re too big in the waist.) they are pretty tight. As a result They aren’t the best causal pants. The lefroy pant is a good option too but a little big around the leg opening for riding. I had them taken in and they can also double as casual pants, and are equally good for hiking, trail works, etc.

Reply

rolly
rolly
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I still have my Sugoi merino from over ten years ago as well. Such a comfortable piece of kit.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

I bought a fair amount of Sugoi merino stuff right when they were getting out of merino (just before the merino craze hit) and right when they were getting out of Canadian manufacturing (when people started to care again where stuff was made). 

In hindsight, it's the best, and most interesting stuff they ever made and pretty much straight down from there? The stuff I had was very nicely made and the cuts were great. A couple long sleeves (one I turned into a vest) and a bunch of socks.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 1 week ago
0

Do they clear kneepads okay? Any experience with crashing in them? 

One of the reasons I really like the Royal DH pants is the material is bomb-proof. Not super light and not the most breathable, but close enough to other products while also being prepared to withstand a beating. 

I'd love to have some pants that were great for riding and life - the way my Haskell shorts are - but durability is always a question mark.

Reply

cyclotoine
cyclotoine
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Both pants fit my first generation Dainese trail skins which aren't the most streamlined. They are a bit tight though but it works. I also wear 661 protective shorts pretty much all the time under my pants. 

I haven't been able to test them thoroughly but the lefroy pants were $80 on sale and I would say they are a lot better quality than some of the more expensive MTB specific pants. The material seems like it should stand up just as well as most MTB clothing. 

I would have bought MTB specific pants but I can't find anything that fits. Everything is way too short for me.  I have a pair of ONEAL pants and I'm not impressed with the durability. They're on the short side but better than a lot of others I tried.

Reply

MyfriendscallmeKozak
MyfriendscallmeKozak
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks for the write up Andrew! I'm of the same clan where I really like functional clothing that serves a double purpose. I do the same where clothing goes from casual/riding to riding to working under the car clothes. You asked for a suggestion for pants. I'm a HUGE fan of the Mountain Hardware AP pant. I don't work for them but spent many years in outdoor clothing and sports and recommend them to anyone looking for a versatile pant. Cheers and keep up the great work! 

- Andy

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Cheers Andy!

Haven't owned much Mountain Hardware stuff, but it looks like great quality.

Reply

bushtrucker
bushtrucker
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

All clothes are doin double duty here too! It’s really the only way to go if you mix your riding in with other activities. For me that means mostly riding in drill work shorts, leather boots and old t-shirts but I’m a huge fan of Merino base layers such as socks, boxer shorts and lightweight tops. Great for day-to-day but where that stuff really shines is long distance touring. Smitten in Tassie is my go to brand. Got 10,000km out of a couple of their long sleeve shirts and even more out of a pair of boxers. Just rinse them out every few days if I can and they’ve been odour free to as far as I can tell haha.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

May I ask what boots you use? Been curious lately about some more supportive footwear.

Reply

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