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Helly Hansen Verglas Hybrid Top: For Men and Women

Helly Hansen's Verglas Hybrid Top is like none of the other base layers in my closet—which is saying something because there are a lot of great base layer choices out there.

Here's why the Verglas top is my favorite: For starters, it’s a turtleneck, not just a mock turtleneck like so many other shirts. The Verglas Hybrid Top is has a full, fold-over, to-the-chin neck. It’s a brilliant feature. On the ski hill, it’s eliminated my need to wear a neck gaiter on icy, windy days. That's a real bonus for me because while I’ve liked the way neck gaiters shield the back of my neck (where most jackets can’t reach), I’ve also found gaiters to be too bulky and heavy to be comfortable. The Verglas Hybrid Top, however, keeps my neck and throat out of the wind, but with a streamlined fit that let's me forget about it about while skiing.

I was concerned that Verglas Hybrid Top's turtleneck would feel too warm and clingy, but it's not. The deep zipper lets me open the neck and chest for maximum ventilation during high energy activities like skate-skiing. Unzipped, the turtleneck transforms into more of a midi collar, with broad fabric panels draping over my shoulders and creating a spiffy-looking frame around the v-neck. None of my other base layers do that, either.

Helly Hansen uses a unique sandwich construction fabric for the Verglas Hybrid Top. It's merino wool on the outside and their proprietary LIFA synthetic material on the inside. LIFA wicks faster than wool, thanks to hollow-core fibers, so it dries fast—even on sweat-inducing powder days. The Verglas Hybrid Top has never felt clammy or sticky.

I like how the material is designed to match what I need in different areas. For example, on the arms the fabric’s sole function is wicking, not warmth. Under the arms, a more open weave increases ventilation in those steamy zones.

Also, I'm happy to report that the Verglas Hybrid Top's fabric isn’t itchy. I was afraid that the neck-hugging design would have me clawing at my skin after a few hours, but it’s amazingly soft and comfortable. In fact, I often keep the turtleneck zipped up at après, where I fancy that the sleek Euro-styling makes me look like a Russian spy.

Helly Hansen makes impressive claims about this fabric, which it prints on the Verglas Hybrid Top’s packaging: It’s 30 times drier, 53 percent lighter, and 73 percent warmer than standard polyester. I’m not sure what that means. But I can say, having worn the Verglas while downhill, backcountry, and skate-skiing, that it’s one of the best-engineered cold-weather base layers I’ve ever worn.

Available in black in women's sizes XS-XL and men's sizes XS-2XL.

Bottom Line: Fits great, performs extremely well, and I love the neck protection and the thumb holes in the cuffs that help me keep my hands warm.--K.B. (Dec. 2011)

BUY ONLINE : $100, on sale for less at Amazon.

Manufacturer's Site: www.hellyhansen.com

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