Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Ibex Vim and Ibex Dash Hybrid

The Ibex Vim Hybrid. A nice jacket, but not the cycling-specific
holy grail that the Dash Hybrid (or Breakaway) was.

I’ve written a number of times (here, here, and here) about the Ibex Dash Hybrid jacket. The jacket has a soft-shell wind and water resistant front made from “Climawool.” Climawool is a herringbone woven fabric that has many of the same qualities of Schoeller. The back of the jacket is made of a woven wool and spandex blend. So the front keeps the wind and moisture out, while the back of the jacket lets the heat escape while keeping you happy and warm.

I forever pledged my allegiance to the Dash Hybrid on a rainy 80 mile ride last fall where the average temperature was 38 degrees. I was damp but warm the entire time. No other jacket has ever performed like that for me.

The Dash Hybrid is a great jacket, so I was bummed when it fell out of the Ibex lineup a year ago. I wrote to Ibex and asked why they dumped the jacket. The response was that a new and better version was on the way in 2009. So, a couple months ago, when the 2009 Vim Hybrid was introduced, I wrote again to Ibex and asked if they would send me a jacket to review.

I’ve been using the jacket for a month or so and here’s the skinny. The Vim Hybrid ($195) is a great 3-season, all purpose jacket. Like all things Ibex, the jacket is extremely well-made, looks nice, and is super comfortable.

Dash Hybrid.
Soaked after a fall in a frozen puddle. Although wet, I'm still warm.

Unfortunately however, it’s not an improvement on the Dash Hybrid. The Vim Hybrid is a much thinner jacket than the Dash; I can’t get it to keep me warm in temperatures under 30 F without adding too many layers under it. For a cycling jacket, I want a form-fitting jacket that feels good with one or two thin layers underneath. With the Vim, to stay warm in the cold, I have to add too much bulk. The Dash, on the other hand, is weighted for colder weather. Two thin layers under the Dash are all I ever need to stay warm down to the teens.
Another disappointing aspect of the Vim Hybrid is that it’s not cycling specific. Unlike the Dash, which is cut a bit lower in the back, the Vim is a traditional cut, which exposes a bit of my lower back when I ride. The Vim also lacks the rear pocket. And instead of a small chest pocket the Dash has (perfect for a phone or an mp3 player), the Vim has two traditional hip pockets, which I think is the crummiest place for pockets on a cycling jacket.

Alex wearing the Dash (or it may be the Dash's predecesor: the "Breakaway").
Note the nicely cut long back and rear pocket.

I think the Vim would make a great 3-season, all-purpose jacket and I look forward to trying it out for early spring rides and trail running to see how it holds up to warmer and rainier days. But my plea to Ibex is to bring back the Dash Hybrid. The world needs a cycling-specific, technical, wool winter jacket, and the Vim is not it.


Pat S said...

I sure wish I could get my hands on a Dash Hybrid. Hope they bring it back or something like it.

Just this week I picked up a Novara Transfer jacket because it is designed with windpanels in the front and more breathable back panels and that makes a ton of sense to me. It's pretty lightweight and nowhere near comparable to the Dash, I'm sure. I'll have to layer up pretty good underneath it.

Looks like REI is also discontinuing the Transfer:

jim g said...

John, this new jacket looks similar to the old Icefall model [borrowing Patrick's photo @] -- I got one on closeout a couple of years ago and I love it, but I agree that it's not cycling-specific. If I could change anything on my Icefall, it'd be to add pit zips and a two-way zipper...

John Speare said...

Hey Pat, the Transfer doesn't look too bad. I wonder why it's going away?

Jim: is the back climawool'd? If so, I can understand the need for pitzips. I find that with the back of the Dash being wool, I never wish for pit zips. For this reason, you might like the Vim. I would think it's pretty ideal for a 4 season jacket in the Bay area.