Fabric: 100% merino wool, 200 g/m2
Length: 19 in.
Width: 9-3/4 in.
Color: Gulf Ripple
Test Location: Alta Ski Area; Elsewhere in the Great Outdoors, as well as Indoors
Days Skied: 15
I have to admit, I have always been a user of fleece neck gators. I’ve loved them because they keep my neck warm—well, until they become wet from breath condensation, snot, sleet, or snow.
And there was always the dilemma of wanting to protect my nose and/or mouth from the frigid cold or gusting winds, but also wanting to see out of un-fogged goggles.
Still, despite their drawbacks, I love neck gators and have used them for the past fifteen years, so I was interested to see what the Icebreaker Flexi Chute would be like. It’s longer than most neck gators, which makes it a little more versatile, while the material is both warm and incredibly thin and breathable.
Warmth / Breathability
I tend to be a very optimistic person, but I was a little pessimistic when I first felt the Flexi Chute. It seemed excessively long (more on that in a minute) and entirely too thin and lightweight, so I was a little concerned my first day wearing it—the high temperature was a balmy 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind was gusting up to 60 mph.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find that in addition to being warm, the Flexi Chute is also unbelievably breathable. I could pull the Flexi Chute over my nose and mouth without feeling like I was suffocating; on other cold and windy days, I could tuck the top of the Flexi Chute under the very bottom of my goggles for maximum protection, and no matter how hard I skied, I couldn’t get my goggles to fog up.
A big reason for this is the material. The Flexi Chute is made of 100% merino wool and lightweight 200 g/m2 yarn, so even though the Flexi Chute is extremely thin and breathable, it blocks wind and retains warmth. (Icebreaker also makes the Chute neck warmer with 320 g/m2 yarn.) The other nice thing about the merino wool used to make the Flexi Chute is that unlike most wool, it is both soft and not itchy.
Unfortunately, just because you are wearing a Flexi Chute does not mean you are no longer susceptible to the same moisture that terrorizes fleece neck gator users. With enough condensation, sleet, or snow, the Flexi Chute does become wet. But unlike fleece neck gators, which become cold when they are wet, the Flexi Chute remains warm.
The Flexi Chute’s merino wool dries quickly, and has not absorbed the typical ski gear funk smell. Also despite getting wet and drying countless times the past several weeks, the Flexi Chute has not gotten the crisp/crunchy texture most clothing gets after going through this pattern several times.