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Helly Hansen Lifa Merino Seamless Half Zip Baselayer Top

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Vying for the title of the best merino / synthetic hybrid cold weather baselayer, the Lifa Merino Seamless is right up there with Bergans' Akaleie and for Scramble at least, it's too close to call: "the Helly is perhaps the more pragmatic, ideal baselayer"

Colour: (see modelled pics for accurate colour)

Sizes: M (38" - 40.5"), L (40.5" - 43"), XL (43" - 46")

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This product is no longer in stock

£ 44.00


RRP: £ 80.00

Data sheet

Brand / Manufacturer Helly Hansen
Clothing Section B1 - Upper Body
Clothing Layer Base & Light Active Layers
Sub-Type Activity - Dynamic
Purpose Multi Purpose
Materials 45% Merino Wool, 44% Polypropylene, 11% Polyamide
Properties High warmth to weight ratio, comfort, fitted
Package Weight (approx.) 350 g / 12.35 oz
Item Weight 190g / 6.70 oz (Large), +/- ~10 g (approx when sizing up/down)

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The Ideal Merino Hybrid Cold Weather Base Layer?

Helly Hansen's marketing copy for the Lifa Merino (quoted below) is so tired and trite we'll just hand things over to Scramble who actually have something interesting to say. But before we do, the Lifa Merino Seamless Half Zip is Helly's seamless lightweight successor to their excellent Warm Freeze. In simple terms the hydrophobic polypropylene (the miracle that Helly Hansen call "Lifa") shifts moisture away from your skin keeping you dry and the merino wool does the rest (in winter if you can keep dry and block the wind, you're a long way to feeling warm and comfortable when active). Here's Scramble (from their cold weather baselayer review):

"In our view all baselayers (without exception, summer or winter weight) must be form fitting (to be considered true baselayers) and should have a good amount of polyester or preferably polypropylene (see caveat below*) in their fabric mix.

* Polypropylene is warmer than wool, and so heavier winter merino hybrid baselayers (~250g+) if using a sufficient amount of polypropylene can feel too hot when active (and thus may benefit from a polyester mix instead, as per the Bergans Akeleie). Polypropylene is best suited for winter baselayers (such as the Lifa Merino Seamless by HH) pushing at the lightweight end of the spectrum.

Everyone knows the superb properties of merino wool; less well known are the "made-for-baselayer" properties of polypropylene. Polypropylene is warmer and lighter than wool and is extremely hydrophobic (fast wicking), it's also nearly as abrasion resistant as nylon when wet (see here for more details).

The Lifa Merino Seamless Half Zip is surprisingly warm for its weight, sufficiently stretchy (to be form fitting without losing recovery/elasticity) and yet tougher than many other similar items due to the added nylon.

There are differences between the Bergans and the Helly, but they are extremely marginal. The Bergans has a little more give, is a fraction less form fitting, is heavier and feels slightly more luxurious. The Helly is perhaps the more pragmatic, ideal baselayer in that it's lighter, more form fitting and wicks moisture more aggressively, yet provides approximately equal insulation. To be honest, if they were the exact same price (RRP) we may well opt for the Helly. However, they are not and so presently, we still rate the Akaleie top. But because they are so close, we'll attempt to stock both if we can (and provide them at a similar price-point) that's our sneaky way of passing this tricky headache on to you."

Sizing reference:  Scramble's editor is 42" chest and the size Large is a perfect fit (sizing matches the Bergans' Akeleie).

When Lifa Was Simpla:  Material Mix

Not so long ago when life was a little less complicated, Helly Hansen made two Merino / synthetic hybrid winter baselayers (one a half-zip and the other a crew neck): the Warm Freeze and the Warm Ice Crew. Now there's a plethora of Lifa this and Lifa that. We'll try and simplify things:

  • The new Warm Freeze is the Lifa Merino Max Half Zip
  • The new Warm Ice Crew is the Lifa Merino Crew

The product on offer here is their lightweight, seamless version of the old Warm Freeze.

The Lifa / Merino material mix has changed for the lighter seamless version: The polypropylene has gone from 43% to 44%, the Merino has dropped from 57% to 45% and this has made way for a little (11%) polyamide (nylon) to toughen things up a little (no bad thing in Scramble's opinion). It's lighter, stretchier and more comfortable.

Specification / Features

  • Materials: 45% wool, 44% polypropylene, 11% polyamide (nylon)
  • Fabric weight: 155g/m²
  • Half zip (for venting)
  • Seamless (non-chafing)
  • Outstanding moisture management (fast wicking)
  • Natural anti-bacterial odour control
  • Extremely breathable
  • Form fitting and comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal uses: ski touring / snow sports, winter MTB, mountaineering / mountain trekking

See it in action via the HH endorsement model

Oh yeah, here's what Helly Hansen actually say: "The HH Lifa Merino Seamless delivers all the great benefits of merino wool fibers plus the unique properties of technical Lifa® fibers. A seamless construction delivers maximum comfort and freedom of movement." (See what we mean?)

Here's a Helly Hansen Ambassador working for the man (though nausea inducing and generally uninformative - it's useful to see video of it being worn):

Typical Reviews (from HH Site - rating 4.9 / 5.0)

Lightweight Warmth :  This base layer is a pleasure to wear; it fits well and, despite its light weight, provides excellent warmth. Given the high standard of the materials and construction used, I can see this giving me years of good use.

Warm and comfortable :  Material is warm but softer and less scratchy than some merino products I've bought elsewhere.

Ideal Base Layer :  Comfortable material, fit is nice and material is very light but warm. Great to wear under anything for outdoor activity !

Best base layer ever :  Very comfortable, warm, durable and good looking!

Final note: In our view (shared by Scramble) the price of these baselayers is getting out of hand. We've done our best to bring the price back down to earth, but seriously, Helly Hansen et al should talk to Mario Draghi about his 2% inflation targeting ;)