Norwegian ski brand Kari Traa — the eponymous endeavor from the former Olympic freestyle skier — has perfected the art of the half-zip base layer.
One of our favorite base layers of all time, and winning the best half-zip pick in our Best Base Layers for Women review, Kari Traa’s Rose has been a staple in one of our editors’ winter closet for a few years running.
Kari Traa makes a variety of base layers: long sleeves, zipped layers, Capri-length pants, and sets — with a variety of materials, including synthetic and wool blends. But its original staple and warmest fabric is 100% merino wool.
In short: Kari Traa describes its Rose Half-Zip as a “must-have” base layer. And we agree. This base layer offers great warmth, but also breathability, four-way stretch, a soft comfortable touch, and major style points. It’s versatile, durable, and after several seasons, it hasn’t let us down yet.
Kari Traa Rose Half-Zip Review
With a traditional Norwegian-inspired quilted snowflake pattern, this classy base layer is just as functional and durable as it is stylish. We like the Rose Half-Zip for a lot of reasons, but our top would be its warmth and construction, designed for movement and with lots of stretch built in.
The Rose Half-Zip has contrasting side panels under the arms, which are gusseted. This not only provides ease when stretched, but also a bit more breathability as well. The base layer has flatlock seams, and a half-zip zipper with a high collar and zipper garage.
When zipped all the way up, the collar provides pretty good coverage. (I’ve found a gaiter isn’t usually needed unless the wind is really blowing.) You can zip it all the way down on the uphill for breathability and ventilation, or zip it all the way up for warmth and protection from the cold.
Final feedback: the fit is great. If you have longer arms, you may find the cuffs to come up shorter on the wrists, but we didn’t mind this. And if you are a woman who has a bit more of a chest up top, it still falls nicely (at hip length) for ease of layering or tucking into snow pants.
- Material: 100% merino wool
- Weight: N/A
- Sizes: S-XL
- Color options: 4
- Price: $110
I’ve worn this layer skiing and snowshoeing dozens of times. Heck, I’ve even worn it to dinner out on the town. It’s never pilled or shown signs of wear-and-tear, and it’s always kept me warm. And I hope, it will still perform (and look good) for many seasons to come.