Ibex Journey Short Sleeve T-Shirt Review
Many people have some reason to harbor a grudge against wool. Typically viewed as a warm material suitable for winter use, whether it be an ugly sweater from Grandma or a thick pair of socks in leather boots, most of us have sweated it out while wearing this natural fiber. So who in their right mind would wear a wool shirt in the summer? Apparently, the smart people at Ibex realized that wool can be used year-round, as long as it’s made just right.
The Ibex Journey T-shirt is a summer-weight wool top designed for moisture control and layering. Ibex is known for their variety of wool-based apparel, and this shirt differentiates itself with a unique nylon core construction to increase durability and maintain its shape longer than a typical, all-wool garment.
Ibex Journey Short Sleeve Crew At-a-Glance
Weight: Men’s 5.5oz (size Large, after several washes), Women’s 4.2oz
Fabric Weight: 150 gsm (grams per square meter)
Materials: 89% merino wool, 11% nylon
Dimensions: 26″ collar to hem (men’s Large)
The Journey Crew is a short sleeve, summer-weight T-shirt, that is suitable on its own in warm weather. As a baselayer in colder conditions, it can keep clingy tech fabrics both away from your skin and sweat-free.
Circumstance of Review
Ibex dropped this shirt in my mailbox mid-spring. In Colorado, this means it’s seen a full range of conditions from snow storms to blazing 80°F sun. The Journey Crew joined me on many ski tours, day hikes, climbs, and backpacking trips. It also made several appearances at my office job, where it garnered compliments on the color and neatly stitched Ibex logo on the arm.
Ibex Journey Short Sleeve Crew Features
Summer-Weight: While most people think of wool as a winter-only material, this lightweight take on a winter classic is actually a great choice in summer. This model’s fabric weighs in at 150gsm, which is remarkably light. Most materials bottom out around 100gsm, beyond which durability becomes a significant concern, while 250+ weights are insulating enough to be reserved for cold weather use.
Short Sleeve: Matching the weight of the fabric, this short sleeve shirt is primed for summer use. It also layers well when night comes or that cool breeze rips over the hills. If a long sleeve is more your vibe, the Journey also comes as a long sleeve crew. Unfortunately, there’s no sun hoody yet.
Core Spun Nylon-Wool: The wool in this shirt is spun around a core of nylon, kind of like guitar string construction. The nylon skeleton helps the garment keep shape while the wool remains next to the skin. In practice, I found that the nylon did not take away from the wooly advantages of the shirt. Furthermore, it was more dimensionally stable than most wool garments that I’ve tried.
Ibex Journey Short Sleeve Crew Pros
Sized Generously: I’m thin but quite tall, and often order a large just for some extra torso length. When I first popped it on, I was surprised by how much room I had, and how comfortably long the torso was. The extra volume was nice to keep air moving through and sweat-wicking away.
It’s possible that Ibex upsized the garment to account for some shrinkage, something for which wool is notorious. That said, I washed (and accidentally machine dried) this shirt about 10 times, and did not notice any significant size change. Perhaps that’s the nylon core doing its thing.
Comfortably Cool, Even when Sweaty: Compared to my inventory of synthetic workout apparel, I thought that this wool shirt did a great job of keeping me comfortable. It regulated temps better, had nice next-to-skin comfort, was less clingy when damp, and released moisture efficiently. This was my first experience wearing wool in summer, and the performance left me pleasantly surprised.
Funk Management: While training for my upcoming Wind River High Route attempt, I have been mixing days at the gym with backpacking trips. And the results are in. I can say with certainty that my synthetic shirt is nastier after 40 minutes on the Stairmaster than this shirt after 72 hours on trail. I verified this with my partner after a long weekend trip just to double-check and got the all-clear.
Ibex Journey Short Sleeve Crew Cons
Quick Wear and Tear: My first journey with the Journey T-shirt was a 5-mile ski tour while hauling my camera in a CTUG front pack. At the top, I was a little disappointed to see that the stomach area of the shirt was pilling from friction with the bag. The lumbar region has also shown some concentrated wear from where it interfaces with my backpack. Despite the rest of the shirt eventually pilling to match, that area still catches my eye.
Dubious Sun Protection: This shirt is not UPF rated, although I did not notice any sunburn under my shirt even after long days in the high-altitude sunshine. More importantly, however, is that the short sleeve configuration leaves a lot of skin exposed. Typically I prefer the extra protection of a sun hoody despite the reduced breathability.
Nips are Poppin’: Pulling on this shirt for the first time, I noticed right away that my nipples were at least a little visible in the mirror. It likely didn’t help that I picked one of the lightest colors available, but I immediately wondered how much ‘around-town’ use it would get. I don’t expect the situation to improve with the rigors of use and time.
While I appreciated the fabric performance of this shirt, I wish it came in my preferred sun hoody cut. T-shirt lovers will enjoy a high-quality wool shirt that has a do-it-all attitude.
However, after demonstrating less durability than its synthetic peers, the $88 price tag is a little tough to swallow. The dirtbags out there will probably continue to get by with the $5 thrift store special, while those looking for a more premium product will enjoy the high overall performance of Ibex Journey Crew.
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