Blending Merino wool, polyester and spandex into a high performance, stretchable fabric, the Dynawool Skuba Hoody from Kuhl brings both looks with performance in a single package. How does it perform? My review:
The Dynawool Skuba Hoody is a lightweight zippered hoody constructed from Kuhl has coined Dynawood Powerflex, which is a smooth combination of 71% polyester, 24% wool, and 5% spandex. The jacket has two internal mesh pockets, two zippered hand pockets, dual thumb loops for layering assistance, a full frontal zipper, and a form fitted hood. I’ve been using the Skuba for a few months now and have largely come across impressed.
Starting with the target use of the jacket, the Skuba is designed to be a form fitting hybrid mid/outer layer. It fits close to the skin and provides a very athletic fit, this way it can fit underneath a heavier outer layer, but also performs quite well as an outer layer itself with its light wind blocking and warming properties. When used as an outer layer it provides appreciable, breathable warmth into the high 40’s Fahrenheit (5C) and can handle wind up to about 10 or 15 mph before it starts to push through, as long as it isn’t too cold out. When used as a layered piece, the sky is basically the limit and varies depending on the other layers used, but 20 F (-7 C) is doable with a light puffy on top, especially when mobile.
The fit itself is nice, but certainly athletic like I mentioned above. This jacket very much runs small, with me having to go a full size up to even fit inside. It has a little extra room in the shoulders and elbow at this size, fits close to the chest, and is snug around the hips. If you’re a wider user or prefer something loose and don’t want to layer, definitely size up, maybe even twice. For me, personally, I went with a large as I have a 34″ waist and rather enjoy the fit, especially when hiking. It bunches up when I sit, but I don’t mind as I don’t spend much time sitting around in a jacket like this, so I’ll give it a pass. The only aspect of the fit that I found weird, and I suspect where the ‘Skuba’ name comes from, is the absolutely form fitting, nearly skin tight hood. It feels quite nice and doesn’t budge when the wind shows up, but is quite unusual. It literally looks like a skuba hood as it wraps around the skull and jaw like a wetsuit. This is again for layering as it fits great under the hood of a larger jacket, so it does have a purpose. I did find, however, that the zipper of the hood doesn’t feel great tucked under my chin as it’s tight and pushes into the soft tissue under my mandible. It feels fine when the fabric is worn in front of my chine instead, thanks to the padded cover over the zipper and sleeve, so I’ll sometimes use it like this instead. I generally just leave the hood slightly unzipped and go with that though. Smaller heads should fit inside a bit better.
Weather protection is quite limited here sadly. Rain will soak in basically instantly as it has no apparent water treatment of any type, but the combination of wool and synthetic materials allow it to trap warmth even when wet. I’ve had it fairly wet on several occasions, and generally stayed quite warm as long as I wasn’t completely saturated and away from wind.
Visually, the jacket looks great. It combines clean, smooth lines with a form fitting shape and distinct yet very purposeful and optically appealing seams that appear a bit exaggerated for the sake of style, and it works. It’s extremely modern looking, with a smooth fabric finish that really plays well with light and shadow. This makes it a fabulous trail walkway piece as the ever changing lighting interacts wonderfully with the materials, giving it pop and depth.
Build quality is also quite good. I’ve found a couple slightly frayed seams near the ends of lines, but nothing that’s really notable unless you’re looking for it like I was. The zippers slide fairly smoothly and have yet to hang up on me, while the fabrics do a solid of resisting stretching or fraying.
The Skuba from Kuhl is a wonderful jacket that I’ve had a lot of fun wearing. Walking, hiking, and even biking have proven to be quite suitable for this garment. It provides light wind protection and makes for an excellent cool, but not cold, jacket when worn solo. It is also extremely suitable as a mid-layer when paired with something a little larger, like a lightweight puffy or a rain jacket. It’s generally quite comfortable to wear while in motion, but isn’t a great fit for sitting and office or campsite around unless you size up or don’t mind some tightness around the hip and waist. It looks great, feels nice, and has garnered me a few compliments on the trail and in the office, worthy of the $189 asking price.
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