BackpackGearTest
  Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Dale of Norway Windstopper Sweater > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

DALE OF NORWAY WEATHERPROOF SWEATER
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
March 11, 2019
Dale 1


PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 72 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 210 lb (93 kg)
Upper body: 46 in [117 cm], waist 37 in [94 cm], arm length 36.5 in [93 cm]
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

THE PRODUCT

dale 2It's high time I reviewed a terrific garment that's been a handsome chestwarmer for decades. I can't recall exactly when I bought it except that it was well before I moved to Texas in 1985. SimilarIy I can't recall its product name - that's something its maker changes frequently - but I can describe it very simply. This is a pullover sweater knit of heavyweight Norwegian wool with a sewn-in a Gore Windstopper liner. [Take a look at my review of my Storetind sweater on this site for more detail on] this design.] What's available from this venerable Norwegian mill today isn't exactly the same as what I own, but anyone I convince to purchase one may choose among several models Dale designates as "weatherproof" for similar functionality, durability, and good looks. Also, Dale sweaters of many styles and vintages abound on aftermarket websites. 

The liner is sewn in from a point 1.5 inches [4 cm] from the hem and the cuffs, but in fact extends to the edge. The knitted wool is folded over the lining, an indication of the detail that goes into a Dale sweater. The stand-up collar is a double layer of all wool. My sweater has two metal clasps at the neck. Both of the comparable models that Dale now offers have replaced these with quarter-length zippers. Among those that qualify as Weatherproof, the Glittertind appears to me to be the closest to mine. That model has a turtleneck collar like the one on my Storetind but otherwise looks like mine. Most Dale sweaters, including today's Weatherproof models, are gender-specific. Glittertind is available in a women's version, and there are two other women's sweaters with a weatherproof membrane.

dale 3 My sweater has crow's-foot pattern in navy blue on a white background across the body and sleeves and a more intricate pattern in green and navy at the hem, cuffs, and collar. Dale changes its patterns regularly but most have a distinctive Nordic flair. Dale sweaters have been around so long - next year the Company celebrates its 140th anniversary - that it's fair to say that it has developed this distinctive and much-imitated style. I can't recall a Dale pattern I didn't like.

Manufacturer: Dale of Norway
Website: www.daleofnorway.com  This website has a page for the reader to select his or her location - USA [prices in US dollars], Canada [Canadian dollars], Europe [Euro], or Norway [krona].
Models: Models comparable to mine at his writing are Glittertind and Flagg. Look for the word "Weatherproof" in the product name.
Listed in Men's sizes S-XXL. Mine is the largest, XXL.
Measured length, collar to hem: 26.5 in/67 cm
Measured collar length, extended: 3.5 in/9 cm
Measured sleeve length: 34 in/86 cm
Measured weight: 35 oz/992 g
MSRP: $408 US [Flagg]; $471 US [Glittertind]

FIELD CONDITIONS

I have worn this sweater on over one thousand days, in all weathers, while hiking, skiing, fishing, backpacking, and just walking. Given its weight and warmth my use is limited to colder weather; I'd call it a modified three-season piece, the three seasons being fall, winter, and spring. It's great for winter backpacking, for which I've worn it at temperatures down to -30 F [-34 C], especially the sort I do these days, involving backcountry huts and cabins. Camp chores in the mornings and evenings are usually done in the dark and in the Northern Rockies it's cold after the sun goes down. It's likewise cold inside until the pot-bellied stove fires up and even colder first thing in the morning.

For day hiking my proper window for the sweater is a bit shorter, late autumn through early spring. On windless days this sweater is too warm for me if the temperature rises much above freezing. But if it's windy the sweater is at its best, especially if a significant part of the route is exposed. At a minimum I'll wear it at rest stops, lunch breaks, and photo opps - whenever aerobic activity ceases. The same goes for ski touring or cross-country laps in the winter.

By far my most frequent use for outdoor activities, however, has been for spring and fall fly fishing.  [Occasionally on bluebird days in the winter too - freezing or just above.] This avocation includes much standing still while waving a stick, and wade fishing [i e, without a boat] often means standing in very cold water. One of my best local angling venues is the Yellowstone River Valley, better known as Paradise Valley for its scenery, and infamous for fierce and frequent winds. This sweater is the perfect midlayer there, worn over a merino base layer and under a fishing vest. The wind may disrupt my casting, but I stay warm when I'm wearing this sweater.

During most of my seven years of living in Montana I've had a canine companion. He gets daily walks and adventures, almost always beginning with a walk of 1-3 miles [1.6-5 km] immediately after his breakfast [and immediately before mine]. This is usually sometime between 5 and 6 am, a time that's dark and cold in the Northern Rockies winter.  For the past several winters I don this sweater over a tee shirt, pull on a pair of trousers and my socks, immediately after getting out of bed and head out after the canine meal. If it's much below freezing I may add a shell or down sweater and off we go. I'll keep the sweater on for morning chores, notably splitting wood, another daily cold weather activity, or a hike or ski. In other words, daily winter use of the sweater whenever I'm not traveling, with occasional off days while the sweater is drying [see below].

Normally when hiking, fishing, or skiing this sweater serves as a combination midlayer and outer layer, though I might pack a shell for heavy rain when fishing or wear one for good measure if it's really cold or blustery. A merino long-sleeve shirt plus this sweater are enough for all but the wintriest weather conditions.

PERFORMANCE

dale 4 I shall start with the sweater's most notable and praiseworthy trait: weatherworthiness. This sweater is simply great at blocking the wind. For this reason alone I usually pack it for ski touring, even if it's likely to be needed only at rest stops. Cross-country skiing is a highly aerobic activity. Even in cold weather the sweat comes easily when climbing a hill or breaking trail. I don't really notice the cold until it's time to stop. Being sweaty but then temporarily inactive when the cold wind blows is hazardous to my health, so an outer layer is donned forthwith. That's usually this sweater. With it I can snap a photo, drink a cup of soup, or just catch my breath without risking a sharp and immediate chill. Wind blocking is good enough that I can wear it [and have often worn it] when the ski touring is for turns - hiking up, skiing down, and repeating. I cannot recall this sweater's ever getting drenched. It rarely rains at the temperatures at which I wear it, but blowing snow sloughs off, and there's little left even after a fall in the powder.

Nor does the sweater get damp and sticky on the inside. Somehow the fabric and lining wick well enough to avoid a soggy outer layer. Pure magic!

This garment's durability has been truly remarkable. After regular winter use for 30+ years the lining remains intact, with not one stitch loose. There have been small amounts of pilling at the collar and sleeves, and occasional soiling from brushing against trees and other obstacles, but nothing to compromise functionality or to require more than standard cleaning as described below. Immediately prior to filing this Review I examined the sweater for any unraveling in the knit body, and found two, totaling about one inch [40 mm] in length. Not bad after decades of use. Dale makes products that last a long time.

Perhaps this sweater's only drawback is its bulk. It doesn't compress much and doesn't pack easily. When not wearing it on an adventure I usually shove it into a shovit pocket on the front of my pack or lash it to outside of the pack. There it's ready to hand if I need to put it back on. It can certainly take direct exposure to the elements and the scrunching hasn't caused permanent disfigurement, though now and then after a couple of hours of compression it has been marginally more difficult to pull it over my shirt.

Unlike the Storetind, a product that Dale marketed expressly for outdoor activities, this sweater has no pockets, pit zips, or really any features other than the Windstopper liner. I confess that one reason I sometimes pack a shell is to get some pockets.

APPEARANCE

While appearance matters naught to me in the backcountry, I remain vain enough to enjoy wearing this handsome sweater to town or to the bar after skiing. Its retro Nordic style brings compliments to even an old dirtbag such as your reporter. This and my other Dale sweaters are the best-looking slope-to-street garments that I have ever seen.

CARE

This sweater has never seen the inside of a washer or drier. I've owned it since before the days of no-agitator washing machines, but I would never subject this or any other expensive knit garment to the tumbles and whirls of machine washing. I always wash it by hand, immersing it cold water with a capful of wool-specific or other non-detergent soap, allow it to soak for twenty to thirty minutes, then re-soak in clear cold water for an hour or so. After draining the sink I press out as much water as I can and then lay the sweater flat atop a folded beach towel to air dry. Even in the Rockies' dry climate this takes two or three days. A well-earned respite for the sweater and only a small personal sacrifice for decades of good service.

SIZE ALERT

A minor caution to prospective purchasers - Dale sizes tend to run a bit small. I recommend trying one on to find the proper size before purchasing.

WHAT I LIKE

Incomparable windblocking ability
Really warm
Amazing durability
Simplicity - not much that can go wrong
Good looks

WHAT I DON'T

Bulky and heavy. Necessary for performance but makes packing it tough.
No pockets
Expensive if you consider only the one-time cost. When I think of all the hours it's kept me warm in style, I look on it as a bargain.
















Read more reviews of Dale gear
Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Dale of Norway Windstopper Sweater > Owner Review by Richard Lyon



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson