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Kari Traa Rose Half Zip Review

This 100% merino wool contender is surprisingly durable and stylish
Kari Traa Rose Half Zip
Credit: Kari Traa
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Price:  $110 List | $65.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, cute style, warm, venting features
Cons:  Lacks fabric breathability, lacks a wide range of thermoregulation, itchy fabric, uncomfortable fit
Manufacturer:   Kari Traa
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#17 of 17
  • Warmth - 25% 6.0
  • Breathability - 25% 3.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 4.0
  • Layering Ability - 20% 9.0
  • Durability - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

Are you in search of a durable merino wool option? The Kari Traa Rose Half Zip features a 100% Merino wool construct that will keep you toasty on the nippiest days. It layers well with its tight fit that doesn't bunch. As a bonus, the face fabric is tightly knit, providing a little wind-resistance and fantastic durability. Plus, we love the cute patterns of the material and the flattering design. With all those pluses, there are a few caveats. Unfortunately, our testers report this shirt is itchy and less comfortable than other options. The fabric is so tightly knit that it doesn't do an outstanding job (comparatively speaking) of thermoregulating from warm to cold temperatures. As a result, we don't recommend it for highly aerobic activities like winter running or backcountry skiing. Otherwise, this is a great option for wearing under a jacket around town or on its own during cool days of the Fall or Spring.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $65.97 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Durable, cute style, warm, venting featuresBreathable, excellent thermoregulation, extra warmth with hood, easy to layerCozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, versatile, stash pocket, tight fitStylish and functional design, excellent durability and fit, comfortable, no odorWarm, durable, breathable, thumb loops, 1/4 zip design vents well, excellent value, no odor
Cons Lacks fabric breathability, lacks a wide range of thermoregulation, itchy fabric, uncomfortable fitExpensive, takes a few washes to increase next-to-skin comfortMore expensive, not super breathableExpensiveNeed to size up on fit, shorter torso and arm length
Bottom Line This 100% merino wool contender is surprisingly durable and stylishA top-notch lightweight performer featuring exceptional thermoregulation and breathability with an innovative Merino wool technology that gets softer with every useThis high performance synthetic layer is ready for pretty much any adventure you dream upThis base layer offers an excellent, slim fit and a wide range of thermoregulation thanks to strategically placed ventilation panels that release excess moistureA good looking blended polyester and merino wool top that outperforms its price tag
Rating Categories Kari Traa Rose Half... Black Diamond Solut... Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Smartwool Intraknit... Carhartt Force Heav...
Warmth (25%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Breathability (25%)
3.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
4.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Layering Ability (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Kari Traa Rose Half... Black Diamond Solut... Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Smartwool Intraknit... Carhartt Force Heav...
Fabric Weight Midweight (240 g/m²) Lightweight Midweight Midweight Midweight
Measured Weight Not recorded 6.6 oz (size medium) 7.1 oz (size small) 6.2 oz (size small) 6.8 oz (size medium)
Material 100% Merino wool 78% Merino wool, 22% polyester Torrent 190 with Polygiene (84% polyester, 16% elastane) 53% Merino wool, 45% polyester, 2% elastane 80% polyester, 20% wool
Avaliable Cuts 1/4 zip, crew Crew, 1/4 zip neck/hoody 1/4 zip Crew, 1/4 zip neck 1/4 zip
Odor Control Fabric Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant Polygiene Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant
Thumb Loops? No Yes No No Yes
UPF (sun protection) No No No No No
Length Short Medium Medium Short Medium
Fit Tight and fitted, small for fit. Runs small Trim fit Trim fit Fit is small, size up
Accessory Pocket? No No Yes No No
Flat-lock Seams? No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kari Traa is a cute and stylish 100% Merino wool base layer. While it is relatively warm with a few unique features, the wool feels scratchy against the skin and sadly doesn't thermoregulate like other Merino wool options. As a result, its a great option for cold weather, but not our favorite as a wear-alone piece during the warmer months.

Performance Comparison


Kari Traa Rose Half Zip base layer womens - a look at this 100% merino wool base layer.
A look at this 100% Merino Wool base layer.
Credit: Amber King

Warmth


A perfect option for cold days and nippy mornings, the Rose Half Zip features 240-g of 100% Merino wool. The fabric is loaded with fine fibers that trap and lock in warmth for the coldest days of winter. The tight-knit face fabric provides a little bit of wind resistance, while the stretchy underarm fabric allows for easy venting. This base layer functions as a stand-alone piece in temperatures ranging from 30 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kari Traa Rose Half Zip base layer womens - a look at the breathable underarms where thinner panels of merino...
A look at the breathable underarms where thinner panels of merino wool are utilized.
Credit: Amber King

Given the tightly woven face fabrics that offer superb durability, the piece actually holds moisture, causing you to cool quickly after exertion. In fact, it almost performs like a synthetic in that regard. As a result, it doesn't offer a whole lot of warmth after activity. Overall, the Rose provides decent warmth for stand-alone use or when milling around town. It's not an excellent option for aerobic purposes.

Breathability


This contender provides reasonable breathability. Unlike other Merino wool contenders, the face fabric is woven super tight decreasing the breathability of the face fabric. It's also not able to wick moisture as well as other contenders either. The unique, stretchy underarm panels and zip-up collar provides ample venting opportunities that other shirts did not have. We also like that the zip offers venting options. As a result, this top isn't our favorite for aerobic days, and we prefer it for walks or running errands around town.

Kari Traa Rose Half Zip base layer womens - the zip neck provides great ventilation while the underarm fabric...
The zip neck provides great ventilation while the underarm fabric provides a place for the escape of heat as well. The face fabric is tightly knit and sadly doesn't breath very well.
Credit: Amber King

Comfort & Fit


While Merino wool is typically cozy and comfortable to the touch, we are disappointed with the feel and fit of the Rose Half Zip. While the fabric is soft to the touch, it's itchier then Merino wool contenders…especially when wet. Every other Merino wool base layer did not itch or provide discomfort.

Kari Traa Rose Half Zip base layer womens - the rose h/z is constructed of 100% merino wool fibers isn't super...
The Rose H/Z is constructed of 100% Merino wool fibers isn't super stretchy, and sadly the fabrics aren't the softest out there. However, it still provides functional comfort for wear outdoors.
Credit: Amber King

The fit is another story. The piece is not true to fit and has constrictions around the shoulders and chest. The arms were short, as is the torso. Part of the reason why fit isn't so great is that the fabric doesn't stretch as readily as other contenders. Our advice is to size up if you plan on buying this product.

Layering Ability


This top is perfect to layer underneath your favorite puffy or shell. The face fabric isn't very slippery and can grab layers that are being put over the top, however, it layers better than most Merino wool layers. Since the fit is so tight, the arms and torso don't bunch up. A smaller or tighter shirt can easily be layered underneath this top.

Kari Traa Rose Half Zip base layer womens - forging the creek on the way up to a neat little hot spring in...
Forging the creek on the way up to a neat little hot spring in Washington. This top is great for wear on its own or underneath a layer.
Credit: Jordan Erlenbach

Durability


This top is stand-out for its durability. Given the tightly woven face fabric, it is incredibly durable that can be worn anywhere! It doesn't snag or grab easily and can take abrasion. Through our testing period, we noted no stitching fly-aways or holes after three months of intensive use. The fabric is not nearly as fragile as other Merino wool options, ensuring its use for the years to come.

Kari Traa Rose Half Zip base layer womens - a look at the tightly knit face fabric that proved to be one of the...
A look at the tightly knit face fabric that proved to be one of the most durable merino wool base layers tested.
Credit: Amber King

Value


This is not a high-value option. Its overall performance is not top-tier, and the price is pretty high. You can purchase a higher value product with better features. However, if a durable merino wool layer is what you seek, it might be worth throwing down the coin.

Conclusion


This 100% Merino wool contender is super durable and offers exceptional warmth. The fabrics aren't as comfortable as most merino wool contenders but it layers nicely and features a cute design that some women love. It's perfect for those seeking an incredibly durable merino wool option, though it is expensive.

Kari Traa Rose Half Zip base layer womens - take this layer skiing, hiking, or camping!
Take this layer skiing, hiking, or camping!
Credit: Jordan Erlenbach

Amber King
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