No one wears sweaters any more. Why? They don’t breathe. They don’t stand up to hard work. They’re not fashionable. Sweaters are for dowdy, office types stuck in the 1950’s. Outside of a formal work interview or a fancy lunch, I haven’t worn one in decades.
Cotopaxi, the young Utah company with an earnest philanthropic mission attached to every garment, has just single-handedly changed that perception with its Libre sweater. The unisex Libre is hard working, is fashionable, and does breathe.
I tried the navy Libre in a size small for women (It’s worth paying attention to sizing with Cotopaxi. The company recommends sizing up if you’re between sizes. I concur.) It’s made entirely of llama wool, crafted in Bolivia, and comes in cool colors. The navy sweater has cream sleeves with dusky rose and muted khaki stripes and looks great with jeans.
Since its successful debut, the company has added the spinoff Libre LT sweater. The difference? The regular Libre sweater features regular knit everywhere but the back, which is mesh knit. The Libre LT is all mesh knit, making it even more appropriate for vigorous movement.
Test drives included rides and hikes with temperatures between 20 and 60 degrees. On the colder end of the spectrum, I wore a ranch coat over it and was able to reduce my layering to three instead of four. On the warmer end, its breathability meant I could keep it on without overheating, even while trimming hooves (something I consider to be a borderline aerobic activity).
I could have ordered up a size; the small fit me snugly (one might say stylishly). A larger size may have caught on branches when hiking or felt less comfy under a jacket.
One important Libre credo: Do Not Wash.
Sounds strange, but it’s true. Llama wool is tough and delicate at the same time. Unlike cotton or polyester, it doesn’t collect odor. Air drying (I set mine on a clothes drying rack overnight.) suits it to a T. I’ve worn it a dozen times and it still smells fine, a little wooly, but otherwise completely neutral and body-odor free.
One caveat to this otherwise outstanding top: if you tend to get itchy with wool, this sweater may not be for you. I get slightly itchy, but my t-shirt layer and the overall goodness of this sweater counteracted any possible complaints.
Cotopaxi is a certified B corporation, that means it’s for-profit company certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Cotopaxi works with non-profits that are dedicated to education for girls, eliminating poverty, and providing mosquito netting where malaria can be devastating.