SubZero – Merino Wool Thermal Base Layer

This is a guest review by Jodie. She used the Merino Wool Thermal Base Layer in combination with the SubZero Factor 2 Mid-Layer, which was also reviewed by Muz here. The base layers come in Mens and Womens versions.

Snug-fitting, high-necked and made from sheep.

This little combo are the toastiest thermals I’ve ever had in my possession and styling wise (because I’m a girly girl and that stuff’s important to us) they also score rather highly.

Firstly, they are a discreet and tasteful black which gets a big thumbs-up. They’re not as fun as the Wild Stripes I tested earlier but solid and dependable for those that don’t like to shout about their base layers all the time.

Despite being a girly girl, it really annoys me when you go into an outdoor retailer and spot an item of clothing you like then realise it’s a men’s size and that the equivalent in the women’s dept only comes in baby blue. Black is good sometimes, and especially when it’s also tailored and fitted girl-style. These firmly put a tick in that box.

The material of the Merino Wool base layer is very fine and has been shaped in such a way that it allows room for ones lady-bumps, so you don’t feel like you are being strapped down. My first impression of this top was that it was soft in texture and repeated wearing has not changed this. It’s incredibly lightweight and delicate so there’s absolutely no risk of feeling bulked up or looking like the Michelin Man when adding additional layers.

My one issue with it, and I suspect that it might only be my weirdness, is that after wearing it for a long time I feel like the neckline is cutting into me – it feels like having a piece of cotton thread gently but consistently pressing against your throat. It isn’t strangling me in anyway and I have no marks when I take it off but it is rather disconcerting.

The Mid-Layer has been worn many times since it arrived – both over the Base Layer when riding the motorbike, which is a wonderfully warm combination, and also as a sweater when walking the dog with just regular T-shirts underneath. It seems to be just as cold-beating in those conditions. The neck is high, with a zip fastening. They haven’t tried to be clever with hidden zip edges or anything, just more of the fleecy fabric as a flap between you and it, and the garment has obviously been well put together as it doesn’t rub at all. The zip has a big tag on it which is useful when trying to zip it with gloved hands. This has been logo’d, as has the neck but they are discreet enough to pass my snooty standards!

The sleeves are nice and long and have thumb holes which are great for being outdoors on colder days when you’ve forgotten your gloves as well as for the fit types who like running! I personally find them useful when putting my bike jacket on and off. They mean that I don’t have to spend five minutes trying to chase my sleeve back down my arm.

As the Mid-Layer has been worn more I am beginning to see signs of wear which are a little disappointing – the whole garment has bobbled all over, it’s subtle but enough for it to start to look old much sooner that I thought it would. This doesn’t affect the thermal insulation.

They’re expensive – £80 for the base layer and £55 for the mid layer – but worth every penny in my opinion.

Summary: A well made, nicely styled set of layers. Certainly I’ve not worn anything warmer. The Base Layer is comfortable, form-fitting and has worn brilliantly. The bobbling on the mid-layer lets it down slightly but the rest is so good that it’s not enough for me to mark them down.

Price: £80 (Base Layer)
From: SubZero Store

More Info: Base Layer (women) | Base Layer (men)  |  Mid Layer (unisex)

Tags and search info for this review: This is a thermal base layer review. tests and reviews thermals, base layers, outdoor gear and camping equipment.

  • Jude

    Seen the men’s version of this and the wool feels very coarse. As it isn’t described as “Superfine” merino I suspect it will also itch. The bobbling you mention on the midlayer is also a sign of poor quality. Sounds very much like a lot lof the mass produced stuff coming out of China – and 80 quid for a baselayer is a lot when you can get a real NZ superfine merino baselayer from the ChocFish people for £55. No contest in my view.

  • Spike

    Have to agree with Jude. Was bought one as a b’day present & oxfamed it after one wear. Shape is awful, and it itched like hell. Thumb loops are just annoying and uncomfortable. If sleeves are long enough to start with thumb loops are redundant. Just a really bad design using cheap wool in my book.