Helly Hansen Hybrid Top 2009

The Helly Hansen Hybrid Top base layer is very ‘engineered’: it’s one of a new wave of hybrid tops that use a range of materials in various areas for various purposes. This includes Helly’s three systems – Cool, Dry and Warm – in one feature-stacked top. The merino wool component to this base layer (27 per cent) is good at keeping you warm, and the high-wicking synthetic Lifa material which makes up the rest gets shot of moisture. The ‘Coolgrid’ back system allows circulation of air. A low back means it doesn’t ride up when reaching (this top was designed for yachting – not ideal, but with some happy benefits) and it is very comfortable, with thumb loops and warm cuffs. There are other base layers in the range if this is too warm.  But the Helly Hansen Hybrid Top base layer is a warm top: it’s meant for hideous, changing weather as part of a layering system, and has a few foibles that make it more valuable for sailors and skiers and less so for walkers. The zip needs to be longer, ideally, and the sleeves need to be able to be pushed up to facilitate cooling. The fit is very snug indeed, so check sizing carefully, and it’s also only available in black: again, fine for winter, but in sunny weather it’ll get hot. It’s impressive, but also rather expensive – which may sway you considering some of its specialisms belong at sea or on the slopes rather than on the trail. 


Fabric 27% merino wool, 66% Lifa (polypropylene), 7% polyester
Colours black (men’s); black and dahlia red (women’s)
Sizes XS-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 190g (men’s size S)
Made in Thailand
Stores in the UK 800

Verdict: The Helly Hansen Hybrid Top base layer is magnificently technical, very warm top that will keep you warm and dry. But some of its features may not agree with you.


Review by Simon Ingram
First published in Trail magazine October 2009