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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > IBEX Woolies Zip T Neck > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Ibex Woolies Zip T-Neck base layer

Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Jan 3 2008

Field Report: Apr 14 2008

Long Term Report: Jun 14 2008

Ibex Zip T-neck base layer

Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 31
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Ibex
Material: 18.5 micron New Zealand Merino wool
Weight (as stated): 5.3 oz (150 g)
Weight (measured): 5.6 oz (166 g)
Sizes available: womens: XS to XL
Colours available: Soft brown, Space blue, Black and Warm Green

Initial Report:
January 3rd 2008

I received the soft brown colour in the women's large size, the colour reminds me of milk chocolate. In general my top half fits a medium or large but my hips normally push me one size higher depending on the stretch. After talking to a sales rep over the phone to determine how stretchy the material would be, I opted for the large. The base layer is much thinner then I expected but feels quite similar to a cotton shirt. The wool material has a lot of give to it and fits me quite well both in the hip area and on top. I feel that if I had gone one size up the fit would not have been as good.

The woolies zip t-neck is meant to be used as a base layer any time of the year. The wool material is thin enough to fit under most of the items in my gear drawer. I find I have been tucking the base layer into my pants where I don't normally tuck in my shirts. The wool layer has been nice against my skin and I haven't had any issues with itchiness. The base layer is soft and all the seams are flat stitched. I have not had any binding issues or rubbing from seams and the care label is actually printed onto the inside back. I did notice that the seam from the cuff is a little tight when I try to pull the sleeve up when washing my hands.

The woolies zip T-neck came with an info sheet that claims this to be antimicrobial, temperature regulating, anti-wrinkle, machine washable, breathable, quick drying, stain resistant as well as flame retardant. While I will be testing the most of these claims, I am not sure I will be testing the flammability of this base layer. And while I have sat close enough to fires to get hit by embers, I don't plan on purposely doing that.

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to wear this base layer on all my trips. I have a few plans to go on some multi-day skiing trips as well as a few overnight winter trips and some day hikes. I have been wearing the base layer while here in frigid Montreal since I was home for the holidays and finding it helps in keeping me warm.

Field Report:
April 14th 2008

I think it says a lot for a piece of clothing if I put it on and promptly forget I am wearing it. I have very few complaints about this base layer. When I wear it next to the skin, it is soft and comfortable and keeps me warm even when soaked through with sweat. I actually find that this base layer tends to wear and wash like a cotton shirt. The seams are comfortable and don't cause any chaffing whether I am wearing this for hiking, backpacking or kayaking. The only complaint I really have is for the zipper. I generally leave the zipper down to help with air flow but when I find myself cold, I zip the zipper up for extra warmth. I find that the collar doesn't seem to snuggle uniformly around my neck but rather, the front part tends to be tight against my neck and the back part seems to gap open. It feels like the base layer is being worn incorrectly. I did also get a little chaffing around the zipper area when it was up, but I generally didn't notice it when unzipped.

I have taken this base layer out on numerous hikes and backpacking events. I have been out on at least 4 day hikes, 2 overnights, and about 5 kayaking trips with this base layer. I would either wear the layer directly against the skin or I would wear a wicking sports halter underneath. The day hikes have been 3-5 miles (5-8 km) at a stretch with temperatures as high as 70 F (20 C) and as low as 50 F (10 C). The kayaking trips take place on the Potomac with water temperatures between 40 - 50 F (4 - 10 C) and air temperatures between 50 and 70 F (10 - 20 C). On the overnight trips, I wore the base layer both as an undershirt and as a sleeping shirt. The first trip was so cold, that I couldn't bring myself to remove any layer of clothing. Temperatures dropped to the freezing mark, the hike in was about 5 miles (8 km) with no wind or elevation gain. The pace was slow to avoid sweating. The second trip was to the same area but via a different route, making for a 1 mile (1.6 km) hike in with no elevation gain and again freezing mark temperatures.

I generally wash the base layer after each use. Unless I am wearing it over a weekend backpacking trip, or just to keep me warm around the house, it get tossed in the laundry. I have both machine washed and dried the base layer as well as hung the base layer to dry. When I machine dry it, I do find I get some static buildup but I have not noticed any signs of shrinkage, stretching or additional wear with machine drying. When I wear the base layer for more than one day in a row, I find that when the base layer is wet with sweat it does tend to smell a little but once it dries, there is very little smell associated with it. Sometimes all I can smell afterwards is my deodorant odour.

I previously noted that the cuff seam was a little tight. I find that is still the case but the seam has relaxed with use and washing to the point that while still a little tight, it is not nearly as bad as it was. I have found the base layer to be mostly odour-free once it has dried. When it comes straight out of the drier, it is a bit wrinkled but they relax once I wear the base layer. When I hang dry it there are no wrinkles. The base layer is breathable, dries quickly when hung (I need to time this but it tends to feel quite dry when removed from the washer). I haven't tested or noticed any flame retardant abilities or its stain resistance.

Future testing plans will include wearing the base layer in warmer temperatures to see if it will help with temperature regulation and possibly help keep me cool. I will also be using the base layer more as a light weight long sleeved shirt as the weather warms with t-shirts underneath so I can peel when warm. I will also look into how well the base layer keeps sun out.

Pros: Snug stretchy fit, keeps me warm even when wet and seems to be odour resistant.
Cons: Zipper can be a bit scratchy, and collar doesn't seem to sit right when zipped up.

Long Term Report:
June 14th 2008

With the warmer weather, I find that I haven't been using this Woolies Zip so much as a base layer anymore but more as a light long sleeved shirt. I have taken the Woolies Zip out on at least 2 more day hikes, one three day overnight trip and a few more kayaking trips. I find that the light weight nature of the knit makes this a nice shirt for cool morning starts. I have even found it works well to keep sun off my skin so I don't have to put any sun block on. This is a bonus for me as I have fair skin and will turn lobster red in no time. The dark brown colour does pick up heat from the sun making it warm to wear once the temperature starts rising above room temperature. This is especially noticeable if there is no wind or shade.

The 2 day hikes took place at Difficult Run and the Gold Mine loop near the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland. Temperatures where around 68 F (20 C) with a gentle, cooling breeze on both days. There was little cloud cover but plenty of tree cover. The mileage was about 5-7 miles (8-11 km). The pace was brisk and I picked up a good sweat. The Woolies Zip was worn over a halter top and I started the hike with a rain jacket on to keep warm. Once I built up some heat, I stowed the rain jacket and just hiked with the Woolies Zip layer. The layer kept me warm but not overly warm and I felt dry. When I finished both hikes, I noticed I had quite a bit of sweat built-up under my day pack and underarms but I didn't feel wet. Once I removed my pack, my back started to cool off a little. It wasn't until I removed the Woolies Zip top that I realized how wet the top had been. It was dark with sweat. I have also noticed this in the past, that the Woolies layer can hold in a lot of moisture but that I only feel a bit damp.

The next big trip I took this on was a three day two night trip up into the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. The elevation gain was at most 3000 ft (914 m) and we camped at about 2000 ft (609 m). I wore the Woolies zip as either a shirt or a base layer depending on the temperatures. Around camp it was worn as a base layer and while hiking it was worn as an outer layer. It worked well during the trip as I wore the Woolies Zip to summit a bald peak and didn't have to put any sunblock on. For the most part, it also seemed to keep the bugs away. Temperatures were in the high 80's F (about 30 C) during the day and at night they would drop to about 50 F (10 C). At night I paired the Woolies Zip layer with a down jacket and a rain jacket.

I took this base layer out for a few more kayaking trips when the water temperatures were still a little too cool. Again, the base layer wicked moisture away very nicely and I didn't feel wet, just a bit damp. Trips can last from 1.5 - 2 hours and about 4-6 mi (6.4 - 9.7 km). When combined with a semi-dry top, I find that I tend to sweat a lot, but this layer really keeps me feeling warm and mostly dry. Other then on overnight trips, I generally wash the base layer after every use. I have also been tossing it in the dryer with no ill effects other then lots of static if I don't use a dryer sheet. The Woolies Zip does not look tatty or old but has developed a little fuzziness to it, and the seams are still holding up very nicely. I still notice that the seam around the cuff is a bit tight, but it has relaxed some from its initial lightness. I can pull the sleeves up and not feel like I have a tourniquet on. The neck zip is still scratchy when I have the zipper done up and the base layer doesn't seem to sit correctly as the zipper seems to press against my neck. In the open position though, the Woolies Zip is a great multi-purpose layer. It works well on its own, or in combination with other layers.

Overall I have been very happy using this wool base layer. I really liked the feel of the material and how it softened up with use. It has kept me warm when I needed the warmth, even when wet. I never noticed any smell after wearing it. It also kept me protected from the sun when normally I would have had to apply sun block. This Woolies Zip T has really become a part of my gear and other then not liking the zipper, I have enjoyed wearing this baselayer.


    - Soft and comfortable
    - Wicks moisture and keeps me warm
    - Keeps odour at bay


    - Don't like the zipper pressing against my neck
    - Seam around the wrist still a bit tight when sleeves pulled up

This concludes my long term report on the Ibex Woolies Zip T-neck base layer. I hope this series has been useful and I am thankful to Ibex and BGT for letting me play with this wool baselayer.

Read more reviews of Ibex gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > IBEX Woolies Zip T Neck > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

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