One of my favourite wool tops is an old, super-lightweight merino zip-neck from Patagonia. This latest off ering is even better, teaming very fi ne merino with polyester. The jersey knit combination is extremely eff ective: the merino keeps pong to an absolute minimum (not quite as good as 100% wool but almost), while the polyester adds durability and gives a softer feel against bare skin. It also has a faster drying time than pure merino, especially at this weight: 120 g/sq.m is about the fi nest out there. In addition, in line with Patagonia’s genuine eco-credentials, the merino is chlorine-free and the polyester is 100% recycled. Chlorine-free refers to the fact that the wash process used on wool to eliminate the possibility of shrinking and to soften the raw material usually contains chlorine; Patagonia doesn’t use this chemical in the wash process so there is no residual chlorine on the fi bres or in the waste water.

 In design terms, this top is simple but perfectly formed. The flat-locked seams are stitched more densely than on other garments, making them less likely to abrade from rucksack strapping or waistbands (although it’s still possible, if one of the loop stitches is snagged). They’re also off set at shoulders and sides, to further reduce the chance of abrasion or any rubbing (although, to be fair, the low profile seams used in base layers are incredibly unlikely to cause pressure problems, regardless of placement). Sleeve length and body length are both in proportion, and comfortable under layers or rucksacks, and the crew neck is relaxed for don’t-notice-it comfort and airfl ow. Plus, there are no irritating garment tags at the neck, just printed fabric and care information.

 Given the fabric performance, garment price and overall weight, this is a top choice for day walking, multi-day trips and general wear. A clear Best Buy.