The Helly Hansen Wool ½ Zip long underwear top delivers all that you might expect from a technical base layer and more. It’s high performing, comfortable, sporty-stylish, and way less smelly then alternatives made from synthetic materials. That’s why I often reach for it first when dressing to head into the mountains.

When the crowds descend onto Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, I like to avoid them by going for a quiet skate ski. Last weekend, I wore my Helly Hansen Wool ½ Zip on a morning skate ski and was pleased by its comfort (flat-seam constructions means no chafing!) and performance (high points for temperature regulation). Skate skiing involves a lot of arm motion, and the stretch of the 100% merino wool material worked well for this activity.

I’m 6’1”, 190 pounds and wear a size large. I found the sleeves to be cut to the correct length and the tail of the shirt stayed tucked-in throughout the activity. That afternoon when crowds died down, I headed off to Teton Pass for a quick ski tour without changing my gear. Even after a full day of sweating, the merino wool material remained comfortable against my skin and did not retain body odor like some synthetic long underwear often does.

Just two days ago, I wore the Helly Hansen Wool ½ Zip again on a morning multi-sport effort that included Nordic skiing. The road to my favorite local destination had been closed a mile before the trailhead due to extremely icy conditions. So, I attached my skis to my backpack, hopped on my wife’s old mountain bike, and started pedaling. I wore just the base layer on top while riding across sunny streets and up a long hill; I was glad to have the ½ zip for a little extra ventilation. When I arrived at the spot where the road was closed, I encountered a crowded parking area with no turnaround where several skiers were being dropped off. I felt a little silly riding up on a bike that was way too small for me, but I knew I also looked good in the two-toned Helly Hansen Wool ½ Zip top.

I’m impressed with the overall quality of Helly Hansen’s  Wool ½ Zip top. This base layer has kept me warm and dry in winter conditions ranging from 5 degrees F and windy to 30 degrees F and sunny. I’m a big fan of the merino wool for its comfort and moisture management. I also like the cut (athletic – not boxy but not skin-tight) and the variety of colors that Helly Hansen offers, including: Ebony, Evening Blu, and Evening Blu with white sleeves. Sizes S-XXL.

Bottom Line: The Helly Hansen Wool ½ Zip performs well as a technical base layer, is super cozy and has minimal odor retention.

Manufacturer’s site:

 $75- $100 at