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Isobaa Merino 200 Zip Neck Hoodie

rated 2.5 of 5 stars
photo: Isobaa Merino 200 Zip Neck Hoodie base layer top

Isobaa's Merino 200 Zip Neck Hoodie is a high performance hoodie that looks great on the trail or around the home. Made from ethically-sourced merino wool, the top has great thermal properties, breathes well, and is quick drying and naturally odour-resistant. This hoodie will ensure you are comfortable in any weather conditions—while running, hiking, cycling, or other outdoor activities— either on its own or as part of a layering system.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Practical
  • Looks great (comes in a variety of colours)
  • Good thermal properties
  • Breathes well
  • Naturally quick drying
  • Odour resistant
  • Sound ethical principles
  • Snug fit

Cons

  • Price
  • Washing/drying is a little more involved than synthetic materials

 

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It's my go-to top for trail running at dawn when it is cooler.

Isobaa and Merino

Isobaa is a British company that produces garments made from merino wool sourced with care from suppliers with a strong emphasis on ethical and environmental standards.

Made from superfine 200gm 18.5 micron merino wool, the Merino 200 Zip Neck Hoodie is a very versatile, comfortable, and great looking hoodie which can be worn for technical activities or for casual wear. I have worn it as a single layer when trail running, as part of a layering system when out on the hill, running in freezing temperatures, and even at work.

Among the advantages of merino wool is that it is a sustainable product and that it retains its thermal properties, even when wet. Merino wool also has a wide comfort range, keeping you warm when it's cold and breathing well when it's warm. Isobaa's hoodie breathes really well during aerobic activities, which is a big tick for me, as well as being quick-drying and naturally odour-resistant.

I have worn the hoodie on consecutive days for my morning runs and there is no noticeable odour, especially when compared with my synthetic tops where odour is much more noticeable after a couple of runs.

Construction and Fit

I was impressed the moment I received the hoodie. It came in an attractive, fully recycled cardboard box. Luckily, it is my favourite colour so I was quite relieved when I took it out of the box.

It's also constructed with a number of features. It features a half YKK zip front for venting and easy on/off. I particularly like the flatlock stitching as this gives the hoodie a much more comfortable feel. The raglan sleeves reduce chafing from rucksack straps and I felt comfortable when I carried a heavier load.

The cut is generous in length and sufficiently covers my torso for warmth and comfort and when tucked in it did not come out, something I find really annoying in shorter tops. Despite the length, the hoodie is sufficiently snug to trap warmth but not so tight as to feel uncomfortable.

My weight has fluctuated a fair amount in the last year, but the fabric has retained its stretch throughout and the fit has remained snug and retained its shape even with many washes.

The sleeves are just the right length—which is a bonus for me as I think my arms are a little on the short side—and the thumb loops are useful for keeping the back of my hands covered on cold, frosty morning runs. I have not needed to wear a pair of gloves yet thanks to this feature.

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The hood, zip, and thumb loops are very useful. 

In addition to this zip neck hoodie in men's and women's, Isobaa offers a variety of merino tops in weights from superfine 180mg up to heavyweight 320gm, as well as tights, short sleeve tops, and accessories.

Use

Isobaa designed the Merino 200 Zip Neck Hoodie as a base layer for a variety of activities, including skiing, hiking, cycling, and running. 

I've had this top to test for the past six months and have used it regularly for morning runs, as well as some camping and backpacking expeditions. For me, the appeal of this hoodie is that it can be worn on its own or as part of a layering system for warmth and comfort. I also enjoy lounging around the house in it.

Merino Care

One disadvantage of merino wool is that it takes slightly more effort to wash and dry. It must be washed on a wool cycle (Isobaa recommends  30°C; never use hot water due to shrinkage), preferably with a delicate laundry detergent, and it should be dried flat. 

That being said, the washing process will only produce microfibers which are biodegradable, and it will air dry reasonably quickly. Also, it’s less necessary to wash merino clothing after every wear, so you can wear the top for several days before needing to wash it, thanks to its odour-resistance.

Value and Environmental Ethics

There’s also the price tag to consider. The Merino 200 Zip Neck Hoodie currently retails for $140/£105, so it’s not cheap. Producing quality products that place ethical and environmental considerations at the heart of the business—from the sheep to the people who manufacture the garment—comes at a price.

Isobaa sources its wool from Australia, and says it chose its supplier based on ethical treatment of the sheep with no mulesing process. The top is then made in China by an internationally audited factory to confirm that working conditions are fair, safe, and environmentally sound. Lastly, the company's packaging is made from recycled and recyclable materials like cardboard, paper, and jute string.

Recommendation

It is down to the consumer to decide if they are willing to pay for a versatile merino wool top like this. I for one would happily buy another one should the need arise. The Isobaa Merino 200 Zip Neck Hoodie's combination of good looks, performance, and ethical considerations make it an outdoor winner for me.  

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I've practically lived in this Isobaa merino hoodie since receiving it. 

Experience

Six months of use including morning runs, often in freezing temperatures, Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) expedition work, lounging around the house, and casual wear.

Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (sample for testing and review provided by Isobaa)

About the Author

Oliver Brotherton lives in Hampshire, England, where he works as a Forest School teacher, which means he can be found in the woods all year round in all weathers. Oliver also assesses Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. In his spare time he loves bushcraft, cooking on an open fire, and backpacking on long distance trails and in the mountains. He also enjoys trail running and cycling for fitness. 

I don’t recommend even being cheaper than other brands. I think it is worth paying a little more for a quality brand that lasts a long time.

Pros

  • Good design
  • Fit perfect
  • Packaging

Cons

  • Very bad quality, after one year the hoodie jacket has the cuffs shattered.
  • It’s very strange in a merino garment but smells very bad.

 

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I have a couple of garments of this brand and I am very unhappy with the quality. Merino wool has features like durability, warmth, or that does not smell. I have had merino clothes since years but Isobaa is, by far, the worst quality.

After one year using a hooded jacket, the cuffs are shattered with holes and the general aspect is very old. With the long sleeve tshirt the problem is the smell. Is the first time in my life that a merino tshirt smells bad at the end of a day.

Yes, at the first sight the product is well designed and looks good, but some months later... Definitely I don’t recommend even being cheaper than other brands. I think it is worth paying a little more for a quality brand that lasts a long time.

Source: bought it new

Ordered two t shirts size L. One of them had L on top tag but inside was XL—other was real L. Shop mistake. But I realised XL seems to fit better on me. I contacted them with request how can I replace the L for XL. They gave me return address and asked me to order another one and promised refund. I’ve sent it by Royal Mail Class 2 and 4 weeks after—there’s no refund.

Email answer is copy/paste:
Our records show the return has not been processed by our warehouse yet. Returns can take up to 10 working days to reach us and then a further 48 hours to be processed. Once processed, you will receive an automatic notification.

Never again

Experience

Horrible

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 35£

Great fit and style, but not durable and less technically advanced material.

Pros

  • Design
  • Look
  • Fit

Cons

  • Material not durable compared to major brands like Icebreaker or Ortovox.

The look and fit is great. But, the material itself is far less durable than other merino shirts I own from Icebreaker or Ortovox. It gets holes quite easily and also is a bit more sweaty. 

Experience

You find Isobaa often in online sport discount shops. As the prices are reduced it might be OK to buy. But for the regular price I would buy another brand because of the low durability of Isobaa.

Source: bought it new

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Specs

Material 200gm 18.5 micron Superfine 100% Merino wool
Use base layer for a multitude of activities from skiing and hiking, to cycling and running
Price £105
Product Details from Isobaa »

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