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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.
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
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Findra Iona Merino-Lite Zip Neck Top
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Findra says: "Created to offer the best in lightweight fabric, temperature regulation and comfort. This top can be worn as a base layer against the skin or as a layering item under or over other layers."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
150g lightweight technical merino blend fabric for easy movement and comfort
87% merino 13% nylon
Coupled with fine mesh inserts to further aid ventilation and breathability
High zip neck collar with zip guard
Long length sleeves with thumb holes to keep wrists and hands warm
Double layer cuffs to ensure longevity
Extended back for enhanced coverage
Concealed rear pocket for valuable storage that won't ruin the shape of the top
Flatlock seams throughout providing comfort and durability
Reflective FINDRA circles print
Fast wicking, temperature regulating and odour resistant making it perfect for day to to day wear whatever the weather
It's made from quite a delicate fabric so you need to treat it with more respect than a polyester top, but if you follow the care instructions it should last you a good while. I've only worn it for a couple of months so can't comment fully on its durability, but will update at the end of winter.
Suits me perfectly as I have a long torso and long arms.
Best try before you buy, it sizes up large.
It's at the more expensive end of the merino top spectrum.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It requires a little more care than polyester: turn it inside out (to prevent bobbling) before machine washing at 30°C, then drying flat.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – it meets its aim of providing a balance of warmth and ventilation, and is well fitting and comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The cut: long body, high collar and long sleeves.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's priced similarly to comparable merino tops by Icebreaker at £80, but you can find cheaper 100% merino baselayers by the likes of dhb and Madison at £45-50, although the ones I've tested haven't fitted me nearly as well as the Findra.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The excellent fit on me and quality of the fabric and neat design features add up to a 9, but it's a pretty hefty price. If Findra could lower that I'd be tempted to give it 9 because otherwise it's worthy of 'exceptional'. If you can afford it then it's worth it – you get what you pay for.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Whyte T-130 RS
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax