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Howies NBL Half Zip Merino base layer



ideal for almost every type of riding

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

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  • Appalling

Howies are reknowned for their base layers - and this NBL Half Zip Merino base layer really ticks all the boxes.

Merino base layers produced over the years have gone from strength to strength, with people raving about the quality of performance, the feel and the odour resistance. So it was with much anticipation that I eagerly opened the package when it arrived for test.

First impressions count for a lot and the feel of the merino is very soft, almost inviting you to put it on. This version is the half-zip, long sleeve variety, so should be perfect for the remainder of the winter.

When I pulled the garment on the first touch felt a little scratchy on the skin, not what I expected at all. Once on though, this sensation soon passed. What I did notice was the warmth. Even with the base layer as the only top on, I was comfortable off the bike in December. On the bike I have used it as a single layer beneath a jacket or with a short sleeve option underneath and have always been toasty.

You could over cook in milder weather, such are the heat retention qualities. The zip, although generous, won't offer you the option of ventilation if you've layered up and have a jacket over the top.

It is effective at wicking the sweat away from the body, and disperses it well so you don't feel as if you've worn it in the shower. Ideal for longer rides when you are expending plenty of energy and working up a head of steam.

Is the price tag a little steep for a base layer? I'm not sure it is actually - you can't argue with the performance or quality of the NBL half zip.

It's a great fit, and you soon forget it's there. I even attempted to push the limits of the 'odour resistance.' I wore the top for two consecutive days commuting, striving to push my efforts. It took everything in its stride, no complaints from me or the family - high praise. The opportunity to put in a really long ride hasn't arisen yet but I'm not expecting anything other than top marks.


Ideal for almost every type of riding.

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Make and model: Howies NBL Half Zip Merino base layer

Size tested: Black, Medium

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

This is a base layer that can be used in isolation or in combo with other layers. Designed to wick sweat away and regulate body temperature during exercise - keeping you cool when you're hot and warm when you're cold. The NBL half zip base layer does what it says on the tin.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The half zip and merino wool make for a technically spot on base layer. Add one of these to your wardrobe and you'll not complain about the cold.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Well made and feels as if it could last for a very long time.

Rate the product for performance:

Wicks away sweat and doesn't hold onto any nasty niffs.

Rate the product for durability:

Feels like it is made to last.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

For a long sleeve top it feels light.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Fits well and is comfortable enough to allow you not to notice it.

Rate the product for value:

Some might consider the cost quite high for a base layer but it's good on the bike and can easily be worn off the bike too.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

This is a top performer, keeping you warm and odour free. What more could you wish for from a base layer?

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Performance, it achieved everything it is said to do with aplomb.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Having to stick it in the washing machine and use something else.

Did you enjoy using the product? Certainly did.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

Howies have this sort of garment sorted.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 178cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride: Currently riding a Pinnacle Evaporite Three  My best bike is: As above

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, sportives, mtb, Not yet but looking to dip my toe in the world of TT


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