Reviewed by: Road.cc, 15 October 2021
Iona Merino-Lite Zip Neck Top
FINDRA’s Iona Merino-Lite Zip Neck Top is from the Scottish company's small range of premium active lifestyle clothing, and this beautifully made baselayer reflects FINDRA's commitment to good design, quality materials and excellent performance in clothing that also looks attractive. I've worn numerous long-sleeve merino baselayers, and this is the best, in my opinion, partly because it fits me so well. The only downside is that it doesn't come cheap (it's on a par with other high-end offerings from the likes of Icebreaker), but as long as you look after it you should get a good few years' wear out of it, making it decent value.
Pros: Superb fit, great fabric and nice design touches
Cons: Nothing to complain about, though the high price reflects its quality.
The cut, features and fabric all stand out. Cycle-friendly design elements of the Iona include the ample body length with a generously dropped and shaped rear hem, and similarly long sleeves that still covered my wrists when stretched out on the bike (which not many tops do).
I particularly like the very tall collar that zips up snugly to keep draughts firmly at bay. The quarter-length zip is just long enough to allow for good temperature regulation without exposing too much cleavage.
Further features that make this such a well-performing top are the contrasting fine mesh underarm panels, for increased ventilation and breathability, and the extra-long cuffs with thumb holes. The cuffs have a clever folded-over double-layer construction, which means there's no seam across your palm to dig in when your hands are on the bar.
There's also a discreet zipped rear pocket, large enough to fit cards and cash along with a neck warmer or maybe even a small gilet.
While FINDRA's clothing isn't cycle-specific, it is designed for people who enjoy cycling, as well as running, hiking and simply getting out in the great outdoors. This means it is versatile and functional while looking casual, so you'll blend in with the regular punters at the mid-ride café stop. The Iona is described as a relaxed fit, but it's cut close enough to take advantage of the material's warmth and wicking properties.
The Iona is lightweight and very comfortable too, being made from FINDRA's own super-soft merino blend, Merino-Lite – a 150gsm technical fabric that combines 87% ethically sourced (non-mulesed) and incredibly fine-fibred Australian merino wool with 13% nylon for extra stretch and durability. I prefer baselayers that mix synthetic fibres with the merino because they tend to dry faster and keep their shaper better than pure merino tops. The Iona has flatlock seams throughout, to aid both comfort and durability.
FINDRA says Merino-Lite is 'the perfect lightweight fabric for the warmer months of the year' (though remember, it's designed and tested in Scotland!) because of its ability to wick sweat extremely effectively. I've been wearing it under a waterproof jacket in temperatures around 12°C, although I'd happily wear it on its own in warmer weather, as well as layer it with a merino vest and/or mid-layer when the mercury drops.
Because of its high merino content, the Iona boasts all the usual benefits of merino over synthetics: superior breathability; doesn't get too smelly; maintains warmth when wet; regulates your body temperature; and, of course, feels luxurious against your skin. You need to treat it with a bit more care than polyester, though – machine wash on a gentle cycle at 30°, dry it flat and turn it inside out before to prevent bobbling. FINDRA is so confident in the quality of its garments that the company offers the ‘FINDRA promise’ – if you find a fault due to the manufacturing process, it'll fix it for free.
As for value, I'd argue that the quality, excellent fit and comfort make the Iona worth its high price. It's priced similarly to comparable merino tops by Icebreaker at £80, but you can find 100 per cent merino baselayers by the likes of dhb and Madison at £45-£50.
Colour options are limited, just this and solid eggplant (aubergine), but they happen to be my two favourite colours, so just add to the appeal of this great all-round merino top for me.
A very well-fitting, performing and versatile merino baselayer with well-thought-out features.