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Walter Sky WS-MH01 Nuyarn Merino Zip Hoodie

Living full-time in a modestly sized van means space is at a premium, and packing light is essential. Consequently, there’s really no place for clothing that’s not multi-functional, so I rarely purchase apparel that’s not suitable for both everyday life and outdoor activities. Technical products tend to be lighter, more packable, compressible, quick-drying, warmer/cooler, and remain fresher for longer, which are all beneficial whilst living on the road. However, mountain-specific gear tends to be quite striking and often utilizes garish colour schemes that are easily spotted in a search and rescue scenario. This approach, although beneficial, has created a gap in the market for recreational/daily apparel that boasts the same mountain functionality. After all, why wouldn’t you want more performance out of your everyday clothing?

The Walter Sky clothing collection is intentionally understated, almost exclusively in black and white, showcasing simple yet clean-cut designs. Their garments are a fantastic option for those who prefer to keep a low profile while travelling and desire a wardrobe that’s basic yet functional.

According to their website, Walter Sky is “unapologetically favoring minimalism in a marketplace that rewards multiplicity”andoffers a “purposefully limited collection of everywhere apparel. Each piece, thoroughly researched and engineered, calls on new and innovative fabrics and a purposeful construct to offer you an essential skin.”

However, whilst the designs are neutral in appearance, they incorporate materials and technology more akin to the latest in outdoors-specific clothing. Over the past month, I field tested their “ultimate grab-and-go zip hoodie,” the WS-MH01.

Similar to the rest of the collection, the WS-MH01 offers a slim fit and is elongated to compensate for any shrinkage over time. The extra length is a welcome addition and ensures your lower back is protected from the elements when bending or stretching. The inclusion of YKK zippers (industry-prized for their impressive construction and reliability) and YKK antique brass stay-down zipper heads with black rubber are a quality touch and contribute to the premium feel. There are two good-sized front pockets; both are zippered, which is beneficial for travelling or daily life where your keys, phone, wallet, etc., can so easily become lost/stolen.

The hood is snug but not tight, with a drawstring cord that incorporates tasteful brass toggles and eyelets, whilst a small piece of folded brown leather is used to cinch the drawstring on the hood. It’s quite an achievement to create a piece of clothing that’s neutral at first glance that offers such attention to detail and so many discreet but high-quality touches. How the hoodie will stand up to years of punishment remains to be seen, but I’d feel confident in the long-term durability.

The WS-MH01 incorporates Nuyarn fabric (nuyarn.co.nz), which is stronger, stretchier, quicker-drying, warmer, and loftier than traditional ring-spun merino. In short, this spinning technique releases the natural performance characteristics of wool fibre twisted out by existing spinning methods. Nuyarn states that “traditional spinning twists the life out of wool by compressing natural air pockets, introducing tension, creating loops and restricting the natural movement of the fibres—essentially creating a rope-like structure that can be itchy next to the skin.”

Alternatively, Nuyarn does not twist fibres; they draft them along a high-performance filament, resulting in two-ply yarns with more volume and aeration. This technique produces 35 percent more volume, aeration, thermal retention, and elasticity, five times faster drying, 53 percent less air permeability, 50 percent greater burst strength, 120 percent stronger seams, and more abrasion resistance. Because Nuyarn is a mechanical technique, not a chemical process, the performance attributes do not wash out and remain for the life of the garment. Finally, the wool is only sourced from farmers practising ethical animal welfare and is Global Organic Textile/OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified. The inclusion of Nuyarn elevates the WS-MH01 above traditional merino counterparts, and after a month of continuous usage, without washing, I can vouch for the stated benefits.

In terms of drawbacks, there are very few. If I were being pedantic, then I’d mention that out-of-the-box merino, although excellent, did feel a little scratchier to the skin than other Nuyarn products I’ve tested, but this is often the case with new products and it has softened considerably with usage. Moreover, whilst this is undeniably a premium product, the $225 price tag is considerable and will deter some people.

The WS-MH01 is hard to fault; it’s warm, comfortable, well-made, understated, yet timeless, durable, and performs well during strenuous exercise. I love the company mission statement, which champions quality over quantity, and “doesn’t aspire to be a high-end fashion brand or a worshiped name in outdoor apparel; it is simply a fit for those who seek betterment—those who see the possibilities in a minimal wardrobe of quality pieces that fit countless environments.” The WS-MH01 is a testament to the company mission statement and is a hoodie that performs every day whilst being neutral enough for almost all scenarios.

$225 | waltersky.com

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No money in the bank, but gas in the tank. Our resident Bikepacking Editor Jack Mac is an exploration photographer and writer living full-time in his 1986 Vanagon Syncro but spends most days at the garage pondering why he didn’t buy a Land Cruiser Troopy. If he’s not watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he can be found mountaineering for Berghaus, sea kayaking for Prijon, or bikepacking for Surly Bikes. Jack most recently spent two years on various assignments in the Arctic Circle but is now back in the UK preparing for his upcoming expeditions—looking at Land Cruisers. Find him on his website, Instagram, or on Facebook under Bicycle Touring Apocalypse.