For my ice climbing trip to Canada, Sherpa Adventure Gear was nice enough to send me a Mantra Jacket to test out. A combination of insulated vest and hooded wool sweater, the Mantra is a fabulous 2-in-1 piece to keep you warm without all the bulk.
If you aren't familiar with Sherpa Adventure Gear, the mountaineering inspired brand was founded in 2003 by Tashi Sherpa, nephew of one of Sir Edmund Hilary's Sherpa on his successful climb of Everest in 1953. In honor to all the amazing Sherpa who make Himalayan climbing possible, the gear is tested and designed by Sherpa athletes (yay Lakpa Rita!) and manufactured in Nepal.
The Mantra Jacket features 60 grams of PrimaLoft One insulation in the torso and shoulders to help keep your core warm. The arms, armpits, neck and hood are all made from merino wool, providing not only warmth, but the maneuverability, breathability, moisture management and anti-stink properties you need for cold weather activities.
The neck zips high on your face with a double layer of merino wool for extra warmth. The hood fits snugly on your head so it will easily slip under your helmet. The thumbholes come in handy for keeping wind and snow out of your arms when climbing.
While ice climbing in Canada, I wore the Mantra Jacket as my only mid-layer, with a thin wool baselayer underneath and a soft-shell jacket over top. I was comfortably warm in 20ºF temperatures, even with howling wind and blowing snow.
Bottom Line: The Mantra Jacket makes an absolute perfect mid-layer. You get the warmth of two layers- an insulated vest and a thick, hooded merino wool jacket- without the bulk of two layers. I could not get over how streamlined I felt and the freedom of movement in my arms for climbing.
In terms of sizing, the Medium fit me perfectly, arms, shoulders and all. The Mantra Jacket from Sherpa Adventure Gear is available in both men's and women's styles and retails for $160.