The cut on the 260 Zipneck is very straight, especially compared with the modern, body-hugging, synthetic style and if you're not familiar with the Chocolate Fish logo you'd never guess at first sight that this is a very technically capable garment. To all intents and purposes it looks like a standard zipped, long sleeved, T shirt. The first sign that this is something different is when you put it on.
For a baselayer the 260 feels quite heavy, and tipping the digitals at 351g this was confirmed, but the thicker fabric still felt as soft and comfortable on the skin as much lighter merino baselayers. This is important for its use as a combined base and midlayer, giving you more flexibility by removing the need for an additional baselayer when the temperature cools. Under normal circumstances we'd automatically pick the 190 for summer use and the 260 for winter, but after a couple of uses the 260 becomes more of an option even in summer.
As well as being slightly heavier than most merino baselayers the thicker fabric offers increased wind resistance, taking the 260 into the realms of softshell but without the need for a separate baselayer and at a considerable weight reduction. One of the great things about merino is it doesn't take a long lead-in time before it starts working like some membranes so although the 260 fabric is warmer than the 190 it shifts that additional heat away to the outer surface from the moment you put it on. If the temperature does drop a bit the 260 has the weight and insulation to delay adding an extra layer for a bit longer into the evening, but then assumes its role as part of a layering system seamlessly.
The durability and anti-odour properties of merino wool are legendary and while some manufacturers have gone down the line of adding bamboo or other materials to the wool for socks and clothing Chocolate Fish use 100% New Zealand merino. While some synthetics may wick perspiration faster than merino they can't compete when it comes to day after day after day of continuous use in terms of odour control, making it ideally suited for trekking and expedition use. Merino is also extremely durable, the flexible but resilient fibres both resisting wear and bouncing back when any pressure is released. With merino's ability to resist stains it's also easy to clean.
For a very innocuous looking baselayer the TeMata 260 Merino Zipneck is surprisingly flexible and capable. If you can only afford one merino baselayer, and they're not inexpensive, we'd go for this one despite the heavier weight as it give the additional weight for sole use and the additional insulation makes it suitable for winter use.
Soft to touch. One baselayer for all year round use. Made in New Zealand from certified sources by an environmentally conscious manufacturer. Although not designed to be waterproof the 260 zipneck will, used as a midlayer, hold the water off for long enough to add a shell.
Colour: Forest, Berry/Smoke contrast
- Fabric: 100% NZ MAPP Superfine Merino jersey
- Polo-neck with quarter zip Neck can be turned down as a collar
- Odour-resistant UV
- Protection factor: 40+
Pros: Only uses finest New Zealand Merino