Mate a hooded sweatshirt with a base-layer top and you'd get the Ibex Hooded Indie. This hard-to-categorize piece, which is new this fall, includes a long zipper on the chest, a tight-fitting hood, and sleeves equipped with thumb-hole cuffs.
It is made in the U.S. with a thin wool fabric. The cost is $92, but the Hooded Indie, which comes in a men's and a women's cut, is so cozy you might forget about the price. Pull on the loose-fitting top, zip it to your chin, and scoot the hood up over your head. Its wool--a fine New Zealand merino--ensconces the body in natural warmth.
Ibex Outdoor Clothing (ibexwear.com) is known for its collection of top-end wool apparel, from tights to sweaters to hats. I have long been a fan of the company's Woolies Zip T-Neck top, a $72 piece that has endured dozens of cold weather adventures.
The Hooded Indie fits looser than base layers like the T-Neck top. It is less form fitting than tops I typically wear next to my skin. As a strict performance piece--for running in cool weather or cross-country skiing--I would not pick the Hooded Indie first off my shelf.
But for most other activities, from winter hiking and cycling to simply working around the house on a cold day, the hood-equipped wool shirt is a winner.
Like other Ibex tops, it is breathable and comfortable through a range of temperatures. It can be worn alone on cool days--the thin wool is warm enough down to about 50 degrees, with no wind.
If you're too warm during activity, pull down the nine-inch chest zip for ventilation. Then, as you cool, stretch the sleeves over your hands and insert thumbs in the cuff holes. Your hands will stay toasty like this, half-obscured. Your head will be cozy in a thin wool hood, comfortable and cinched tight. This hybrid base layer top has you covered.
--Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.