I’m happy that it’s getting colder because I love testing base layers–especially fun, versatile, wool-blend layers from Norwegian Olympic skier Kari Traa’s eponymous active apparel line.
Made out of an ultra-thin blend of Dri-Release Polyester and wool, this stretchy, slim-cut top is designed for hard work. I’ve been wearing the top for power walks and short hikes, and it’s all I need in cool temperatures (50 to 55 degrees F). I can push the pace and not overheat because the fabric breathes well.
The Kari Traa Svala Long Sleeve top is also surprisingly warm. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re surrounded by water, so even a small breeze makes 50 degrees feel like 40 degrees. I tend to start out with only a thin vest or jacket over the base layer, but within minutes I inevitably shed the outer layer. Meaning: it has to be close to freezing temperatures for me to keep an outer layer on while I’m active.
My people were vikings, so it’s hard for me to find outdoor and fitness gear that truly fits me. Women’s apparel is always too short, and men’s apparel is too boxy. So, I am delighted with the fit of my Kari Traa base layer top. Despite its slim cut and my ample chest, I felt very comfortable in the Svala Long Sleeve top. No tight spots, and it fit perfectly through the shoulders. The sleeves are nice and long, just like my arms, and the top is cut nice and long, just like my torso. I can’t say enough how much this garment affirms my positive feelings about my large, strong body. At six feet tall, most women’s garments are too short for me, leaving me feeling exposed around my waist. The Kari Traa Svala Long Sleeve top is actually long enough that I can tuck it in (a rare luxury for me).
The Svala Long Sleeve top is available in women’s sizes XS-XL, in three colors: black with neon-colored contrast stitching, navy with light blue contrast panels and stitching, and “mauve,” which looks like an eggplant color, with red contrast panels and stitching. (Also available in short sleeves.)
I found this top true to size and the size chart accurate. Even though I’m about 30 pounds overweight and have sized up to XL these days, I think even after I get back into shape I might prefer an XL to my old size L tops because the sleeve and torso lengths are so perfect. I should also add that I love the fun contrast stitching of the black Svala Long Sleeve top. I’m an urban gal; all I ever wear is black, but the bright lines liven things up and make me feel more athletic. (Of course the seams are flat, and I haven’t had any issues with chafing.) See review for Svala Pant.
Bottom Line: Ultra thin and lightweight, the Svala Long Sleeve top provides total coverage and great breathability. Perfect fit and ideal for layering.
Manufacturer’s Site: www.karitraa.com
$59.95 at Moosejaw