Warmth / Breathability
The Carve has proved to be a very good insulator that also adds some useful variability when layering. My current favorite combination is the Carve and the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody. I wear this combo everywhere: around the house, on errands, driving, walking around outside, and even under my North Face down jacket on super cold days at Alta.
A couple days ago, for example, it was about 25 degrees, slightly windy, and Alta was covered with soft chop leftover from a powder weekend. Wearing just a baselayer and my down North Face jacket, I got super hot from navigating through the chop. I swapped out the down jacket for my Arc’teryx Atom Hoody but was then slightly chilly until I added the Carve. Afterward, I was warm throughout the entire run and chairlift ride, yet never got too hot.
The Carve is also very breathable. It has kept me very warm, yet, unless I am completely overdressed, I rarely get too hot, regardless of what layers I wear over it.
Touring the past few days, it’s been in the twenties with high winds around 50-60 mph. When walking uphill, I stripped down to a base layer and the Carve. I was plenty warm but never broke a sweat, which was essential once I got to the top of Patsy Marley at sundown. Neither my base layer nor the Carve was damp from sweating, so I didn’t instantly freeze when I stopped to take off my skins as the horizontal snow being blown off the ridge. For the ride down, all I did was add the Arc’teryx LT Atom Hoody, and I was plenty warm.
The Carve has not gotten damp from me sweating, thanks to its breathability. But I have noticed that when the Carve does get wet (from walking around in the snow, for example) the merino wool feels damp but not cold. The nice thing about the Carve is that it is relatively thick, so it takes a lot of water to soak it all the way through. Plus, even if the Carve does get slightly wet, it seems to dry quickly.
Washing / Care Information
Soaking wet out of the wash, it tends to takes a few hours for the Carve to dry completely. This can be a drawback to merino wool: it should air dry instead of go in the drier, as air drying prevents the clothing from shrinking and helps preserve the resilience of the merino wool. I personally don’t find that to be a big inconvenience, and the Carve resists odor and stains so well that I don’t have to wash it super often.
The Carve is equipped with two hand pockets that are large enough to accommodate a cell phone, keys, or other small objects. There is also an upper chest pocket located on the left side of the zipper that is just slightly smaller than the hand pockets. All of these pockets are lined with the same GT320 merino wool.
I have worn the Carve almost every single day since I got it in December, and it has held up wonderfully. There are no tears, and all the seams are intact. The only difference I have noticed in the Carve’s appearance is on the inside near the front and bottom. This is from when I wear the Carve untucked over my SCOTT Rockell pant, and the Velcro from the waist adjustments has rubbed and caused the material to pill a little. Unfortunately I’ve let this happen for the past two and a half months, so it is understandable that it has taken a little toll on the material’s sleek appearance. There are no other wear spots on the rest of the garment, so my advice is just to not go roll around in a bunch of Velcro.
I have also been seriously testing the Carve’s ability to stay clean and spotless by clumsily spilling a variety of food and beverages down the front of it. Fortunately, all of these stains have been easily removed by rubbing out with water or by throwing it in the wash. In fact, I noticed on a day that I was supposed to be dressed up nice that there was a bunch of coffee spilt all along the edge of the zipper. I was bummed, but luckily, all it took was a wet cloth and the mess was gone.
I also want to point out again how resistant the Carve’s merino wool is to odor. I have been super active in the Carve over long periods of time, and it is remarkable how long I can wear it while it still smells fresh.
The Icebreaker Carve Full-Zip Top is a great mid-layer because it is warm and breathable and can be worn for a variety of activities, as well as an everyday, casual piece. I find the neck opening to feel a little restrictive when the Carve is fully zipped, but I would still recommend the Carve to anyone who gets cold easily and is looking for a versatile layer—it is a good option under a shell, as a sole layer while touring, or as a casual outer layer.