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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > IBEX Woolies Zip T Neck > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

Ibex Woolies Zip T-Neck Baselayer Top

Initial Report - December 2007
Field Report - April 14, 2008
Long Term Report - June 8, 2008

Tester Information:
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  50
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)

Bust: 40 in (102 cm)
Waist: 35 in (89 cm)
Sleeve: 32 in (81 cm)

E-mail address: 
  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, hiking and backpacking mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but have started a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 200 mi (300 km) in the last two years.  My usual shelter is a hammock, but occasionally I use a tent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.

Wearing the Woolies Zip T-Neck

Initial Report - December 2007

Neck detailProduct Information:

Manufacturer:  Ibex
Year of manufacture:  2007
Model:  Woolies Zip T-Neck

Size tested:  Women's X-Large
Color tested:  Soft Brown
Advertised weight: 5.3 oz (150 g), size not specified
Actual Weight:  6.1 oz (173 g), size XL


MSRP:  $65.00

Product Description:

Cuff detail The Woolies Zip T-Neck is a lightweight stretchy ribknit 100% Merino wool baselayer top, listed by Ibex as being 'superfine 18.5 micron New Zealand Merino'.  The 2 1/2 in (6.5 cm) high collar is a standup mock turtle neck style, with a double layer of fabric forming the collar.  An 8 in (20 cm) zipper allows ventilation options as well as making it easy to pull the top on and off.  The fabric is thin enough that I can see through it when I hold it up to the light, yet heavy enough not to appear 'see thru' when I put it on.

The top is constructed with flatlock style seams, which allow the stitching to show on both the inside and outside, but result in a seam that is smooth on the inside as well as the outside.  The shoulder areas have a gusseted panel which tapers from about 3 in (7.5 cm) wide at the neck to about 6 in (15 cm) wide at the sleeve.  This allows a good fit in the shoulder area and eliminates seams on top of the shoulder where they could irritate the skin when wearing a pack.  The cuffs are a double layer of fabric extending up the sleeve about 3.5 in (7.5 cm). The shirt is otherwise simply constructed with a single seam at each side, and a single seam on the underside of the sleeves.

Shoulder detailThe sleeves measure about 27 in (69 cm) from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the cuff.  The back of the shirt measures about 24 in (61 cm) from the bottom of the collar to the hem.  The shirt measures about 38 in (94 cm) around the bottom of the hem.  A 1/2 x 3/4 in (1 x 2 cm) off white tag on the bottom right side of the hem features the Ibex logo in dark purple.  The tag continues onto the reverse side of the hem where it proclaims "It Just Feels Right."  The neck has 'tag-free' labeling, with the manufacturer logo, name, size, country of manufacture (Fiji), and laundering instructions printed in creamy white directly on the fabric.  The instructions are written in English only, and state to machine wash gentle in cold water with like colors, using a mild detergent, and caution not to use bleach, to lay flat to dry, and use a cool iron if necessary.  The typical international cleaning symbols are located under the written instructions, as well as the website URL of

Fit and preliminary impressions:

I could pretty well cover this with two words - "I like".

Inside zipper detailTo be more detailed, the top fits very well, skimming my torso without feeling tight or binding.  It fits somewhat more generously than what I would have expected from the website photo, with the sleeve and hem both being longer on me than they appear on the model.  (Of course, that might be because the model is considerably thinner than me and undoubtedly is wearing a smaller size!)  The sleeves are on the long side, but not overly so, and I enjoy them that way on cool weather base layers to keep my wrists and the tops of my hands warmer.  I can push the sleeves up on my arm, comfortably stopping at 'three quarter' length without the cuffs feeling too tight.  Although I can force them up over my elbows, at that point the cuffs become uncomfortably tight.

The bottom of the hem is hip-length, hitting just below my tailbone in the back.  It's comfortably long enough to stay put even when I raise my arms.

On the packaging the top comes in the following statement is made:  "The lower the microns the finer the wool.  Our award-winning, guide-approved Woolies are 18.5 micron Merino for unmatched softness.  The ribbed knit offers a forgiving form-fit that moves with you and keeps it shape."  So far, I pretty much agree with the statement.  The top does feel very soft.  I noticed a slight prickle when I first put it on, but within a minute or so, it just feels incredibly soft and cozy.  When I stretch and move about, the fabric stays snug yet does not bind or inhibit my motions.  Nice!

The garment appears to be well constructed for the most part, with even stitching and no visible fabric flaws.  The only irregularity I found was that the fabric on the inside of the zippered opening has a couple of areas that don't lay flat, having a slight wrinkled look.  This does not appear to affect performance in any way.

This concludes my Initial Report. 

Field Report - April 14, 2008

Field Conditions:

On the AT near DamascusDuring the field test phase I have worn the Ibex Woolies Zip-T on about 12 short day hikes (3 mi/5 km) in temperatures around 20 F to 50 F  (-7 to 10 C) in conditions varying from calm and sunny to breezy with light snow, and in some light misty rain.

I also wore it on three longer day hikes.  The first was about 6.5 mi (10.5 km) in the Kanawha State Forest in central West Virginia, on a cloudy but dry day with temperatures in the 25 F (-4 C) range at elevations from around 1000 to 1400 ft (300 to 400 m).  Trails varied from smooth dirt to rugged rocky areas.  I wore the Warmfront chest warmer and my Montbell U.L. Down Inner Parka with it for most of the hike, although I did remove the Parka on the steep uphill sections.

The second longer hike was in Wine Cellar Park near Dunbar West Virginia, consisting of around 4 mi/6.5 km.  The day was sunny and around 50 F (10 C).  I wore the Zip-T with the Warmfront starting out, but soon removed the chest warmer and was comfortable hiking in the Ibex shirt alone.  The third longer hike was about 6 mi (10 km) in western West Virginia, on old dirt county roads and jeep trails, with temperatures around 40 F (4 C) and no precipitation, where I wore it with the Warmfront.

I have worn it with a fanny pack, day pack, and a GoLite Quest backpack compressed down to carry cold weather essentials for day hiking (i.e. extra clothes, sitpad, water, food, emergency items, and a small tarp, but no sleeping bag or tent).

I also wore the Ibex Woolies Zip-T, the Warmfront and the Montbell U.L. Down Inner Jacket under a Nunatak Ghost (customized for warmer weather with an ounce (28 g) less down) in a hammock in my backyard to test the pieces as a sleeping system. 

I also wore it on a recent hiking trip to the Damascus, Virginia area, with temperatures mostly in the 50-60 F (10-15 C) range, with drizzly rain much of the time I was hiking.  I stayed amply warm with only the Woolies Zip-T and my Frogg Toggs rain jacket while hiking (pictured on this trip above).  I also wore the Zip-T around the hostel in the evenings, but changed to a dry shirt for sleeping.

I've also used it for lounging and sleeping in at home about a dozen times so far.

Use and Findings So Far:

So far I've found the Ibex Woolies Zip-T a very comfortable base layer.  I've used it and the Warmfront chest warmer together while hiking in temperatures above freezing to around 45 F (7 C).  In warmer temperatures (up to around 60 F/15 C), it has been very comfortable to wear on its own while hiking, unless a stiff breeze is blowing, in which case I find my arms get cool and I usually end up layering a light jacket over the Zip-T in those cases.   Recently I began testing a pair of arm warmers, and have found them very nice to wear over the Zip-T in breezy weather to provide warmth for my arms when my core is already warm.  When temperatures dip much below freezing, or times when I don't wear a pack up to around 40 F (4 C), I also find an additional insulating layer necessary (usually my Montbell U.L. Down Inner Parka).

I've enjoyed the versatility of the zip up neck which allows me to open the neck of the shirt up for ventilation as necessary and to zip it up under my chin for maximum warmth in chilly breezes.  The neck has been very comfortable no matter how zipped or unzipped I've worn it, and I have not had any trouble with the zipper jabbing me in the chin or throat.  The shoulder area has also always felt very comfortable, and with the positioning of the seams I have not noticed any rubbing or chafing even when wearing a loaded pack (maximum load so far has been about 15 lb/7 kg).

It has been easy to layer with the Woolies Zip-T.  It easily accommodates the Warmfront chest warmer or a tank top or tight fitting base layer underneath, and I've worn fleece tops over it, as well as a heavier wool mid-layer shirt, the Montbell U.L. Down Inner Parka, and a Frogg Toggs rain jacket.  All layers slid smoothly over the Zip-T.  I have recently began testing some arm warmers, and have found they can be placed over the sleeves of the Woolies Zip-T, but do not slide as smoothly as looser layers.  It takes just a little effort to pull them up over the shirt sleeves without the shirt bunching up.  However, this makes a nice warm combination for hiking, so it's a worthwhile effort.

One thing I like about the Woolies Zip-T is the way it wicks away moisture.  I can do a hard uphill climb, which seems to always produce a good sweat, er, I mean 'glow', and the Woolies Zip-T will get damp, yet my skin stays warm.  I also find it dries pretty quickly, within maybe 10 minutes if I haven't soaked it too much, or 30 minutes if I have.

I've washed the shirt probably about 15 times so far, and it still looks pretty much like new with no pilling or deterioration of the fabric or any loose threads.  One thing I have really appreciated is that I can wear the shirt for several day hikes or several nights in a row and it still smells relatively fresh.  It also dries pretty quickly after laundering.  I always hang it to dry over a small table, and it usually takes just a few hours to dry.


The Ibex Woolies Zip-T has proven to be a very versatile addition to my clothing system, layering well with numerous base, mid, and outer layers.  The wicking properties of the fabric have helped keep me warm and dry in a variety of conditions.  The shirt is well designed for comfort with seams away from high abrasion areas such as the top of the shoulders and the zippered neck allows for extra ventilation or extra warmth as needed.  The shirt is wearing well and I like the way the fabric resists odors, especially those produced by my sweat glands.

All in all, so far I consider it a great shirt for hiking, backpacking, and camping.

This concludes my Field Report.

Long Term Report - June 8, 2008

Field Conditions:

Woolies Zip-T on Table RockSince my last report, I've worn the Ibex Woolies Zip-T on 6 short (3mi/5km) day hikes on old county roads in western West Virginia, with temperatures running in the 40-60 F (5-16 C) range.  One hike was in drizzly rain, one in a short rain storm, and the others were in clear weather conditions.

I also wore the Ibex Woolies Zip-T during a 3 mi/5 km overnight backpacking trip in mid-April in the North Bend State Park area in central West Virginia, while teaching a backpacking class for women.   I found it comfortable for hiking in the 60 F (16 C) range during the day.  Since the hike was not very long or strenuous, I found it dried quickly and I also used it as part of my clothing system for sleeping.

I also used it during a 3-day, 2-night backpacking trip in the Canaan Mountain area of the Monongahela National Forest in eastern West Virginia, covering around 27 mi (43.5 km).  Since this trip was more strenuous, I did not wear it for hiking, but saved its warmth for the evening and night.  This ended up being a good move since weather conditions ranged widely on this trip.  The first day was cool, with temperatures in the 50 - 60 F (10-16 C) range, dropping to just above freezing (around 33 F/1 C) the first night.  Camp that night was in a relatively damp area near several small streams and a lot of boggy ground, which added to the chill.  The second day was warmer, with night temperatures only falling to around 52 F (11 C).  Camp this night was on a high ridge, in dry conditions.  This photo of me wearing the Ibex Woolies Zip-T was taken near this camp, while I was taking in the stunning vista from Table Rock.

In addition to these hiking uses, I've also worn it around home probably another half dozen evenings for lounging and sleeping.

Use and Findings:

Over the course of the test I've found the Woolies Zip-T a versatile layering piece.  It is thin enough that it can be worn hiking in a range of temperatures when worn with or without other layers.  I found it goes on nicely over tank top style shirts when conditions merit a little extra core warmth, and it works well with the Warmfront chest warmer I have been testing, which will fit nicely under or over the Zip-T.  I also found the DeFeet ArmSkins arm warmers I am testing fit well over the Zip-T.  I found they pulled over the fitted Zip-T sleeves easiest if I grasped the bottom of the sleeve with my thumb and held it down while pulling them on.  I found the Zip-T did not bunch up or feel uncomfortable under the arm warmers.

The Zip-T also worked well as a base layer under a variety of other mid or outer layers, including a fleece Zip-T, a Montbell U.L. Down Inner Parka, and Frogg Toggs rain jacket.  If the outer layer had fitted sleeves I found the Zip-T sleeves would scrunch up and bunch up a little, but grabbing them from under the other sleeve and tugging down corrected the problem.  For looser fitting garments like the Inner Parka and rain jackets, the sleeves stayed in place well when I donned the jacket.

It worked well as part of a sleeping system, providing light warmth without being overly hot, and being stretchy enough that it never felt restrictive.  At 6.1 oz (173 g), I consider it pretty light weight for a nice base layer.

The Zip-T seems to wick moisture away from my skin very well.  I never really felt soaked or clammy when wearing it, although it sometimes got damp.  Even damp, it felt comfortable hiking and for short breaks, although I typically needed to put something else over it during longer breaks if I was sweaty.  I was very pleased with how quickly it dried.  On the North Bend overnight trip, I had thought I would need to change into dry clothing for sleeping, but it dried quickly enough that I just wore the Woolies for sleeping too.  During the Canaan Mountain trip, it provided enough warmth in camp to dry out the tank top I wore hiking.  That gave me an extra dry layer, which was very welcome.  It's nice not to have to change back into damp hiking clothes on cold mornings!

The Woolies Zip-T has been very durable, which surprised me a little since it is relatively thin.  Although I've caught it lightly on a few branches and briars and worn it under a pack on a couple of strenuous trips, it shows no signs so far of holes, picking, or even pilling.  Altogether I estimate I've worn it about 40 days or nights, and washed it about a dozen times in the washing machine on gentle cycle with other wool clothing and Woolite brand detergent, and it still looks nearly like new.  (Note:  I always drape it over a table to dry, and do not put it in the dryer.)

I really appreciate the way the Zip-T does not hold odors.  This is especially nice on multi-day hikes, since I carry only the layers I anticipate needing for any given trip in order to save pack weight.  It's nice to know the Woolies Zip-T won't reek by the end of a trip, and I can even stand to wear it in the car a few hours for the drive home.


The Ibex Woolies Zip-T has worked well with my hiking style, being versatile enough to layer in several different ways and providing light warmth, good breathability, good wicking characteristics, and great odor control.  The stretch fabric and the zippered neckline make it easy to put on and take off, even over a light hat or another base layer.  The Zip-T has been durable so far, and it keeps it's shape well both when hiking and after laundering using the gentle cycle of my washer.

I look forward to taking the Woolies Zip-T on many future backpacking and hiking trips.

This concludes the test series.

Thanks to Ibex and for the opportunity to test the Woolies Zip T-Neck baselayer top.

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