Isobaa is a British company which specializes in Merino wool apparel for sports and everyday use. I tested their products in the past and was always pleased with their performance, comfort and durability. In the spring I received their Long Sleeve Zip Neck for testing, and I immediately started wearing it for hiking, bike commuting and everyday use. The Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck is made of high-quality Merino wool and looks very stylish, especially in the striped color combination I got. For the last three months I’ve been regularly wearing the zip neck, investigating its fit, durability, comfort and performance of the material for sports use. Below is what I learned about the Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck.
The Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck is suitable for:
- Bike commuting
- Everyday use
When I unwrapped the Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck I was as the other times pleased with the materials. The fabric is very smooth and extremely comfortable to the touch. That tells us that the zip neck is made of high-quality Merino wool. According to Isobaa, it utilizes 18.5-micron superfine Merino wool which is the second highest grade of Merino wool. The fabric of the zip neck is made of pure Merino wool, although lately many brands started mixing Merino wool with synthetic fibers such as nylon to increase the durability of their garments. Nevertheless, the Isobaa zip neck is made of wool with a density of 200g/m2 and thus I think it’s thick enough on its own, without any synthetic fibers.
We have previously noted that Isobaa Merino apparel of 100 % wool are durable from a density of 180 g/m2 and upwards. The density of the Zip Neck makes it a mid-weight base layer, which makes it suitable for most of the year, except warm summer days (where you would probably want to wear something short-sleeved in any case).
The mid-weight fabric of the Isobaa Zip Neck does provide some warmth, but is still thin enough to dry quickly. I was very satisfied with breathability, odor control and moisture-wicking performance of the base layer. The fabric is very porous and thus the base layer provides superb breathability. It also nicely pulls the moisture away from the skin. I often wore the base layer for multiple activities before washing it and it never got smelly. The odor resistance 100 % Merino wool provides is indeed outstanding. The base layer can be worn on its own or in combination with other garments. In colder months I often wore the base layer under a fleece jacket and then in late spring I started wearing it on its own.
The Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck has several neat features. It has flatlock seams, raglan sleeves, high collar and a front-zipper. The flatlock seams and raglan sleeves make the base layer very comfortable to wear. During the testing period I haven’t experienced any chafing even when I was carrying a heavy backpack on my shoulders. The collar fits nicely around the neck and provides very good warmth and protection against the wind because it’s made of two layers of the Merino fabric. The two layer collar also increases the durability of the garment. In the past I’ve experienced that the collar started tearing on a base layer because it wasn’t properly reinforced.
The zipper is very useful in changing weather conditions. If it gets too warm, you simply unzip it a bit to get some extra air in. It’s backed by fabric on the inside so it doesn’t chafe you. I was very satisfied with the zipper both in terms of functionality and quality. The base layer also has drop tail hem which keeps your lower back warm in cold weather. The cuffs are elastic and very comfortable.
What I missed on this base layer is a locker loop and thumb holes like on the Isobaa Hoodie I previously tested. Thumb holes are a nice extra because they prevent the sleeves from rolling up during technical activities. The base layer not having thumb holes wasn’t that big a problem for me because it has elastic cuffs. They prevent the sleeves from rolling up to some extent. I wish the base layer would have a locker loop because that would enable me to hang it after activities. I don’t want to refold used clothes until I wash them and thus, I usually hang them on a Heroclip carabiner until they’re ready for washing. I usually don’t wash Merino wool garments until I do three or more activities in them. There is no need for washing because they anyway don’t become smelly due to antimicrobial properties of Merino wool.
Fit and Sizing
The Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck is available in five different sizes: S, M, L, XL and XXL. I decided to go for size L. My chest diameter is 98 cm (38.5 in.) and I’m 180 cm tall (5 ft. 11 in.). Size L fits me well, but I have a feeling that size M would also fit me, just more snugly. That doesn’t surprise me as I’m usually between size M and L when it comes to upper body clothing.
The base layer is made of very stretchy fabric and provides good freedom of movement. Therefore, I recommend going a size down if you are between sizes.
Washing and Drying
Isobaa has a page dedicated to describing how to best care for their apparel but basically you should go by the usual Merino wool guide lines, which are: Wash on a gentle 30 C cycle with a suitable wool detergent, and leave to air-dry. Don’t use fabric softener, bleach, or a tumble-dryer for your Merino apparel as these things will mess with its good qualities and shorten its lifespan. Learn more about how to wash outdoor clothing here.
The Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck is a great base layer for activities in winter, spring and autumn. The base layer is made of relatively thin material and can does be comfortably worn also in moderate temperatures. What I like about this base layer is its breathability, moisture-wicking performance, odor control and quick drying time. The base layer is also very comfortable because it has raglan sleeves and flatlock seams. What I miss are the thumb holes and the locker loop. Nevertheless, these are minor things. All in all, I do recommend the Isobaa Long Sleeve Zip Neck.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Drying time
- Odor resistance
- Stretchy material
- Soft and comfortable materials
- No thumb holes
- No locker loop