We reviewed Artilect’s first entry into the outdoor clothing market back in October 2021 and were suitably impressed with the technical performance of the Nuyarn® merino fabric and high quality of construction. As their clothing system line develops the next logical step was the mid-layer and we’ve had the Sundown on test for a few months now.
The Sundown has a waffle-knit structure in a 250 GSM weight Nuyarn® fabric and according to Artilect the Nuyarn® merino wool, fabric has 35% more loft and is 50% more durable than traditional merino wool. Our experience with their base layers would suggest that Nuyarn® certainly is more durable, faster drying and perhaps a tad warmer weight for weight compared to standard merino.
The Sundown is a very stylish hoody with a technical look; an almost scuba hood, paneling to assist breathability and freedom of movement etc. However it is clearly not an out and out technical piece as design decisions regarding the pockets hamper it in this regard.
The majority of the Sundown uses a waffle knit which helps trap more air but this is augmented with thinner flat panels that make up the hood and underarms helping to reduce bulk and aid breathability. The construction is typically Artilect with immaculate tailoring and flat-locked seams giving a perfect slim fit that moves with you and no irritation from bunching fabric. It is a slim fit however and attention needs to be paid to what you wear underneath, loose fitting casual T shirts will tend to ruck up around the shoulders so you are better off wearing a technical close fitting base layer or wearing the Sundown directly against the skin or maybe over your ‘muscle vest’ post route/boulder/workout! The cuffs incorporate thumb slits to give a little extra hand warmth or close that irritating wrist gap you get with some gloves. The hood is close fitting if not quite scuba hood tight like an R1 Hoodie but definitely under the helmet fit wise. The body length is just about perfect coming far enough down to keep backside warm and tuck into a harness easily however the pockets are not harness friendly. It is the pocket arrangement for me that knocks the Sundown down for technical use. The two hand-warmer pockets and the slightly curious pouch/marsupial pocket are located low down where they are completely obstructed by a climbing harness or pack hip/waist belt. As the hand-warmer pockets are pass through you could fasten a pack belt through them and continue to use them as hand warmers. The marsupial pocket sort of looks cool or interesting but I found it totally impractical as it sits at belly button height and anything remotely heavy such as keys/wallet/phone will bounce around annoyingly and or be inaccessible when wearing a pack waist belt or seatbelt in the van. The only thing the pocket worked well for was sunglasses for which it was perfect.
I’ve been using the Sundown now for around 3 months across a range of activities including climbing, hiking and drinking beer. The Sundown is perhaps best classified as casual technical wear or perhaps technical casual wear. Either way it is the type of garment that you would be happy to wear down the pub or bar and not just when you’re dropping in on the way back from the crag. The fact that it is named after a bar in Boulder suggests that Artilect had a general purpose outlook when designing the Sundown. Away from the social venues the Sundown performs remarkably well especially on those tricky days when temperatures might have you donning and then divesting yourself of your mid-layer multiple times. Merino’s party trick of being able to regulate temperature over a wider range of temperatures than a typical synthetic works particularly well with the Sundown perhaps aided by the waffle knit trapping air in still conditions and aiding breathability. I noticed that I was perfectly comfortable in the evenings with the Sundown worn directly against the skin whilst friends were resorting to jackets over light fleeces – anecdotal I know but I don’t think I’m that more cold resistant than the next person! 😉
Artilect refer to the the Sundown as being part of their ‘next layer’ range and whatever they intend by that designation I found it appropriate in that the Sundown is a mid-layer that works well as a sole layer or over a technical base layer. I almost left the Sundown at home when heading to Europe for a month but in the end it came with and was worn pretty much every day. It didn’t make the cut for the long alpine rock routes but it was there for the cragging and the evening beers. Despite not being washed for a month it remained socially acceptable both in terms of grime and odour and washed up perfectly on returning home. Wear wise there were a couple snagged thread from thorns but no ‘bobbling’ from abrasion. It’s not a top you’d want to thrutch up a granite off-width in but likewise you don’t need to ‘baby’ it.
Overall a versatile top aimed more to the casual end of outdoor usage but constructed from a superb performance fabric that you can get away using it for most activities. If I was to review
- Beautifully constructed, excellent fabric
- Wide temperature range
- Surprisingly warm
- Low to no odour
- Pockets not suited to technical use
- A little heavier than an R1 type hoodie
Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene reasons and more often they’re in no fit state to return!