With its breathable natural fibres, merino wool is a great choice for active outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and skiing. Recently I’ve been testing out the Merino 200 long-sleeved zip neck from Isobaa and I have to say I’m pretty impressed.
I find merino wool tops to be extremely versatile. Their natural, wicking properties mean that they keep you warm in colder weather while being very breathable when you start to heat up. Combined with the fact they’re quick to dry, merino tops are much preferable to cotton or many synthetic materials when you’re doing a range of outdoor activities.
Isobaa was a new manufacturer to me, based in London. They make a range of clothing and accessories for men, women and kids, all using sustainable merino sourced from an ethical supplier in Australia. The result is well made products using high quality wool. What I really noticed at first is the softness of the zip neck top. Made from superfine 200gm 18.5 micron merino, it gives a very soft and fine weave. I’ve previously tried out a few different merino tops but this material from Isobaa is easily the softest and most comfortable against your skin.
I really liked the fact that Isobaa promote their sustainability credentials not only through their products but also in the packaging they use. It’s a nice touch to open packaging that’s fully recyclable with no plastic bags or ties in evidence.
The long-sleeved zip neck is one of a range of tops that also includes hoodies, polo shirts and t-shirts made from different weights of merino from 150 up to 260 grams. I’d say the 200 gram material is suitable for year-round use in cooler climates such as the UK, either on its own in warmer weather or as part of a layering system in cooler months. The zip itself is reasonably long which allows for efficient venting.
I found the Isobaa zip neck extremely comfortable to wear. On the day I had these pictures taken the temperature was just a few degrees above freezing and there had been a sharp frost overnight. Despite this, the zip neck gave me sufficient warmth while still managing to feel lightweight to wear (the top under test weighs 228 grams). Equally, I’ve found it comfortable to wear under an outer layer, staying breathable and avoiding overheating even under moderate activity.
The fit is very good for me, preferring a fairly loose fit. I’m 5’7″ and the top gives sufficient length in the torso and arms without being overly restrictive. The cuffs trapped the air without being tight and the flatlock seams allow a very comfortable fit that avoids any rubbing. The top features a dropped hem at the rear which is handy for taller frames as well as being useful for activities such as cycling and scrambling that involve a degree of stretching.
The only slight quibble I had was with the collar. As you can see from the photos, it just didn’t sit very well round my neck. When zipped up it’s fairly high, with its zip guard and ‘garage’ for additional comfort and protection. But perhaps owing to the soft material, it doesn’t quite sit neatly when the collar is turned down. It’s not an issue in the outdoors (unless you happen to be posing for photos of course) but may be a minor annoyance for those who are more conscious of their appearance in other situations.
The men’s merino 200 long-sleeved neck comes in ten colour combinations, so you’re spoiled for choice. Overall, Isobaa’s clothing range uses attractive colours and designs likely to appeal to outdoorsy types from teens through to (ahem) slightly older folks like me.
I have no doubt that Isobaa’s long-sleeved merino zip neck will be a ‘go to’ top in my wardrobe for all types of outdoor activities. It’s stylish, well made, lightweight and very breathable, and so deserves to appeal to a wide range of people. I think it offers very good value for the quality of materials and manufacture. I can see myself wearing the top in all seasons including multi-day activities such as backpacking or cycle touring.
What I liked:
- Very breathable and versatile for all-season use
- Stylish design and colour combinations
- Soft merino wool that’s very comfortable to wear against the skin
- Half zip which allows for efficient venting
- Great fit (loose without being baggy), with a dropped hem at the back
- Lightweight (228 grams in medium)
- Recycled / recyclable packaging
What I wasn’t so keen on:
- I found that the collar doesn’t always sit neatly.
You can buy Isobaa clothing direction from their website. The men’s merino 200 long sleeved zip neck currently sells for £80 while the hoodie version sells for £105. They’re currently offering 10% of a first order, with free UK delivery over £50 and free international delivery over £100.
Note: The zip neck merino top was provided to me to review for free by Isobaa. I have no connection with the company. I have provided an honest and impartial review based on my personal experience in using it.