Perfect for when the weather turns in an instant. The neck zips up into a turtleneck, and zips down for extra ventilation. Made from our warmest baselayer fabric, this new piece for Fall 2011 features thumbholes for extra coverage.
- Form Fit
- Interlock knit
- UPF 50+
- Center front zipper with logo semi-locking slider – 37 cm (14.5 in)
- Shoulder panels eliminate top shoulder seams
- Engineered thumbholes
- Flatlock seam construction eliminates chafing
- Measured size medium
- Weight – 280 g (9.9 oz)
- Center back – 71 cm (28.0 in)
- Sleeve length – 90.8 cm (35.7 in)
- Pit to pit – 55 cm (21.7 in)
- Retail – $100
Smartwool has always been known for their socks. I myself am a big fan. While I have liked some of their clothing, other pieces did not seem to fit me well. In the fall of 2011 Smartwool redesigned their clothing line with new designs and fit. I was really excited about these changes and worked with Smartwool to be able to review the Funnel Zip and see how they have changed.
The Smartwool Midweight Funnel Zip is part of Smartwool’s NTS (Next to Skin) collection. IT is meant to be a winter baselayer but can be used as a midlayer as well. For this reason, I tested it both ways. I used it cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, running, and just around town. I did not get to test it in the rain as we have had a dry winter but rest assured it got all other types of weather.
The Smartwool Midweight Funnel Zip is part of the Smartwool NTS collection. This is a collection of baselayers made to be form fitting and of different levels of warmth. The Funnel Zip is made of 100% 250 g/m2merino wool. This is the warmest of the NTS fabrics and is made to work alone or as a cold-weather baselayer. Smartwool lists it as a good baselayer for stop-and-go activities. The wool is interlock knitted and carries a UPF rating of 50+. This is the highest UPF rating available.
The Funnel Zip has a different look to it. The main thing you will notice, especially on the color I tested, is the shoulder panels. They are made of the same wool as the rest of the top but have a textured look and different color than the main fabric. The panels move the seams off the shoulders for comfort when carrying a backpack or to avoid stacking of seams. Stacking of seams happens when you are layering garments that have seams in the exact same places, such as the top of the shoulder. The more seams the less comfortable the layering system will be. To help with this problem Smartwool has created their Layer Up System. This system has two-fold benefits. First, the system is made to work with other Smartwool garments, and more wool is more comfortable according to Smartwool. Two pieces work together as one to manage moisture, improve breathability, regulate temperature, and control odor. Second, the system is made for the different layers to work together better. Smartwool designed their pieces to not only work great on their own but also together. They have engineered the garment to have non-overlapping seams and in ways to create less bulk. This creates a system that when layered together, won’t bunch or restrict movement.
The Funnel Zip is a zip turtleneck with a 14.5 cm front zipper for venting. The zipper is also semi-locking so it will not move without some help. At the wrists, there are some thumb loops that can be used to pull the sleeve’s part way over the hands for a bit more warmth. The whole top has flatlock seams for additional comfort and to avoid chafing. The top is completely made of merino wool of which I am a big fan. A quick rundown of the benefits of wool includes: fiber strength, anti odor, wicking, temperature regulation, natural sun protection, water resistant, and breathable. For more information on wool, click on the banner below to go to the knowledge base article.
The other aspect I want to touch on is sustainability. Smartwool makes a concerted effort to be a responsible company. Of course, wool by itself is a much better alternative for the environment than synthetic fabrics are. The only thing I gave a knock-on wool is the fact that the garments are knitted overseas.
One other aspect that sets Smartwool apart from other wool makers is the fact that their garments are both machine washable and able to go in the dryer. Just turn inside out and wash on warm gentle cycle. Tumble dry on low heat or dry flat for best appearance. No need to worry about this top shrinking, as long as you follow the directions.
Arm Length (25%)
Comfort Next to Skin (20%)
Ease of Movement (15%)
Torso Sizing (25%)
The fit of the Funnel Zip is, in fact, better than other Smartwool baselayer tops I have tried before. The Funnel Zip is supposed to be form fitting and follow the curves of the body. I tested out the size medium, and it fit me just right. The torso was next to the skin without being compressive, and the arms were nice and long. They are made slightly longer to accommodate the thumb loops. These thumb loops do not get in the way when not in use but are great when it is cold out. When using the thumb loops the top felt slightly tighter through the shoulders but with the little stretch in the fabric it was not as issue. The top itself is not restricting and since it is form fitting it does not have any excess fabric to flap around. The only thing I did notice was the turtle neck was a little on the long side for me. Fully zipped up and the top was definitely pressing on the underside of my chin. Other than that the Funnel Zip is a marked improvement from the older design.
Moisture Transport (15%)
Water Resistance (10%)
Wind Resistance (15%)
I find that wool just performs. I have written several reviews of wool garments and have been happy with each of them. Normally, the only drawback would be durability or fit. Since I touched on fit above I will mention durability here. The Funnel Zip seems to be about average as compared to other tops like this one I have tested. The thread used for the flatlock seams has frayed a little in one or two places. Other than that the top has held up to everything I have put it through. If I notice anything else good or bad, I will check-in on this review.
Even though the Funnel Zip is the thickest of the NTS Fabrics it still maintains good breathability and wicking characteristics. Using it while cross-country skiing has been a good opportunity to see how well it wicks sweat and dries while taking breaks. The top did well at both and felt comfortable next to the skin while doing it. Most brands mention the micron of the wool they use and Smartwool does not which I find strange. Nonetheless, the Funnel Zip feels like lower micron wool from 18-21. The top is very versatile as my testing showed. It was equally adapt in all the winter activities I tested it in. It is fairly warm, so I would avoid using it on hotter days as it might be too much. Smartwool makes lighter tops for those days.
The Funnel Zip has a natural sun protection built in. It also will have some resistance to a light shower but not much more than that. Even if it is wet it will still keep you warm. The thicker knit also does a reasonable job blocking the wind.
Overall, I was pleased with the Smartwool Midweight Funnel Zip. IT is made of 100% merino wool, so I knew I would not be disappointed. The new fit is much improved while the finished product is still carefully thought out. I really appreciated the Layer Up System when I paired this with one of Smartwool’s Mid Layers. Stacked seams are not very comfortable, and it is good to see they put some thought into that problem. The appearance of the Funnel Zip is a bit different so you will have to decide if it is for you. Of course as a baselayer it is likely going to be under another top so it may not be a big of an issue. The Funnel Zip is a good top for a wide range of activities from hiking to skiing and whatever else you can think of. Of course, wool is great, and I am also a fan of Smartwool. This top is made in men’s and women’s as well as other styles with the same fabric. With wool, you normally pay a bit more but the top is made of sustainable fabrics and should last longer if you follow the care instructions. The Funnel Zip retails for $100 which I think is fair. As always, your mileage may vary.
Pros [field name=iFrame]
- Made of 100% wool
- Better fit than older model
- Layer Up System is great to avoid stacked seams
- Thumb loops well done
- Turtle neck slightly long for me
- Thread frays a little