Current Retail: $79.99-$99.95
Historic Range: $48.99-$109.95
The Kari Traa Rose Longsleeve is a 100 percent merino base layer that is comfortable, warm, and durable. It's thin enough to layer without restricting movement, and incorporates a range of colors and sizes to appeal to a variety of adventurous ladies! Just be prepared to size up as this base layer runs SMALL!
- Soft (for merino wool)
- Fit is snug without restricting movement
- Thin enough to layer easily
- Stays in place
- Variety of color and size options (up to 4XL)
- Runs small—plan to order one size up
Testing Conditions: I tested the Kari Traa Rose Longsleeve from December 2018 to December 2019 as a member of the Trailspace Review Corps. Testing conditions ranged from -25 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the following activities: hiking, fat biking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, alpine (resort) skiing, and nordic skiing.
Rose Longsleeve front view
Fit & Comfort: For those who aren't familiar with Kari Traa, the Norwegian brand was developed by its namesake, a female Olympian freestyle skier. The Rose Longsleeve is a base layer made of 100 percent merino wool. Regardless of how soft, I find any merino layer to have a tiny bit of wooly scratchiness to it. The Rose shirt is no exception—it's soft for merino wool, but not as soft against the skin as a polypropylene base layer. I don't see this as a negative, it's simply the nature of merino wool, which makes up for any hint of scratch with other aspects of its performance.
I'm 5'4" and wear a size small top (35" hip, 27" waist, 33" chest, 15.5" torso length). I initially ordered a small and had to exchange it for a medium. I've never bought a medium top before, so this is not the case of being between sizes and ordering up. Even after sizing up the shirt fits well but is (appropriately) snug. So, plan to order one size up. The sizing issue may be due to the fact that Kari Traa is a Norwegian brand. Sizes range from small to extra large, with the option of a plus size version of the shirt ranging from 2XL to 4XL. It's fantastic to see such variety in available sizes, especially as the shirt runs small. There is also a half-zip and hooded option, in case either of those are more your style. Sorry guys, Kari Traa is a women's-only brand.
Rose Pant and Longsleeve shirt front (above) and back (below)
Breathability & Moisture: I love how breathable this shirt is! It provides warmth while wicking moisture away from the skin. Of course, the functionality of any base layer depends in part upon the other layers, so I like to wear it with outers that are also breathable. My favorites right now are some combination of the Patagonia Nano Puff Vest, the Mammut Ultimate V soft-shell, and the Patagonia Ascensionist hard shell jacket.
Warmth & Layering: When I'm looking for a warm base layer that is thin enough to fit easily under other layers, I turn to merino. The Rose Longsleeve is incredibly warm, especially for how relatively thin the material is. I'd consider it a medium weight base layer. It fits easily under my outer layers without adding bulk or causing restriction in movement.
I also tested the Rose Pant and found the combination kept me warm and toasty even in below zero temperatures. If doing a high-energy activity such as nordic skiing, hiking, or fat biking, the Rose Longsleeve kept me warm enough in temperatures as low as 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. On cold days like this, I'd pair it with a down layer, a hardshell, and the Rose Pant. Wearing both base layers together really makes a big difference in terms of warmth.
Rose Pant and Longsleeve shirt side view
I find myself gravitating to less warm base layers when temperatures are above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I enjoy fairly high energy outdoor winter activities, and find merino can get a bit too toasty for me in warmer temperatures. That being said, if doing something where my activity level was inconsistent or less intense, such as a short hike at a mellow grade, I wore the Rose Longsleeve in warmer temperatures (as high as 35 degrees) and paired it with a lighter base layer pant (or none at all, depending on my outer layer pant).
Ease of Use: The merino material incorporates four-way stretch, providing ease of movement while the shirt stays in place without bunching. The upper portion of the shirt incorporates a series of buttons, allowing for adjustability depending upon how much warmth or breathability you want around the neck and chest. The buttons function as well as expected—in other words, they stay buttoned when I want them to. They're a low-profile button, and as such haven't dug into my skin when worn under a pack. Buttons
Construction & Durability: The Rose Longsleeve is sewn using flatlock seams, which are durable yet comfortable against bare skin. In the months I spent testing the shirt, no seams have split or frayed. I have fairly sensitive skin and haven't encountered any abrasion or hot spots.
Flatlock seams front (above) and back (below)
I launder the Rose Longsleeve in cold water and either let it air dry or throw it in the dryer on low temperature. I haven't had any issues drying it in the dryer, although the laundering instructions indicate it should be line dried. I haven't noticed any odors associated with laundering.
Features: The only features I haven't mentioned yet are the color options. While yes, there is no obvious benefit to wearing a cute color or pattern in a base layer, black base layers are just plain boring. And, being the owner of two lovely yet furry dogs, I hate the way my black base layers attract dog hair like nothing else! The Rose shirt comes in 10 different colors, each incorporating Scandinavian snowflake design. I love the color options (it's fantastic to see colors beyond pink and black!), and equally enjoy being able to snuggle with my pups after an outdoor adventure. The color and pattern really disguises pet fur.
View of color/pattern
In sum, I'd highly suggest the Rose Longsleeve. It's a durable, warm base layer that looks great, is comfortable against bare skin, and layers easily under outer shells. Just plan to order up a size. So often, female-specific outdoor gear may look good but lacks the performance features of comparable products made for men. I'm appreciative of the fact that Kari Traa has created base layers that deliver in both design and performance. Thanks to Kari Traa and Trailspace for the opportunity to test the Rose Longsleeve!
Growing up in northern New England, I've worn base layers as a necessity for outdoor adventuring since I was a child. I tested the Rose base layers for a full winter season.
About: Kelly lives with her husband and two dogs in a little cabin nestled in the mountains of northern New England. Her outdoor adventures range from stacking firewood to disappearing into the backcountry for days at a time to snowshoe, backcountry ski, mountain bike, hike, kayak, and more.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Kari Tara)