Gear Review: SportHill Women’s XC 3SP Zip Top

Sporthill was developed by a professional runner who needed training duds that could perform in Oregon’s cool, wet climate. He eventually created the brand’s famous 3SP technology claims to be “the fastest drying fabric in the world” and “ounce for ounce the warmest fabric on the planet.” Since 1993, Sporthill has outfitted the Canadian National and Olympic cross-country ski teams with their unique, three zone temperature rated tops, tights, pants, jackets, vests, shorts and even skirts.

SportHill Women's XC 3SP Zip Top

SportHill Women’s XC 3SP Zip Top

The Women’s XC 3SP Zip Top provides “optimal warmth and superb moisture management for highly aerobic zone 3 activities.” The brand defines “Zone 3” as cold, windy days with outdoor temperatures from zero to 40 degrees. This soft, slim fitting top features ”a 13-inch zipper with reflective piping, streamlined panels to avoid friction points, and careful placement of fabrics to enhance their performance values.” It also claims to be wind proof to 25 mph.

Although I cannot vouch for the full wind speed protection claim, I found this top to be very soft, warm, stretchy, breathable and well-made. It definitely cut the wind chill on my skin, although I was only moving about four to six mph on a cold, windy day.

A few of my personal favorite features included the thumb holes—an improvement on past models—which were actually big enough to not pinch my thumbs and had double fabric padding for comfort. I also appreciated the length of the top which extended past my tailbone, which prevented my belly from being exposed to the cold air even when my arms were fully extended above my head. The extra-long zipper provided for increased air flow and temperature control (helps make up for not having pit zips on this model). I am also partial to having a bit of stretch in any material that lies close to my skin and the hint of spandex in this top was perfect.

SportHill snowshoers

SportHill snowshoers

This top included a few small details that I found to be thoughtful and impressive, like the zipper cover on the collar to prevent the zipper from flying up and hitting you in the face, the brushed fleece inner collar for added softness and warmth around the neck, the reflective tape on the chest zipper and the zipper pocket on the arm perfect for holding small, handy items such as a trail pass, credit card, ID card or lip balm.

Of lesser technical importance, but still worth mentioning, are the nice colors (pink, periwinkle and black) and slimming design (color panels down the sides, black in the middle). Comfort is key, but style is satisfying.

The only improvement I could suggest, although it is an uncommon feature for a base layer, might be the addition of zippers in the armpits for maximum temperature control and air flow. But, again, this is mostly made up for with the extra-long chest zipper.

All in all, this is a wonderful layering/base layer piece for cold weather sports with superior materials and design features.

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  • Katie is a lifestyle and travel writer based in Denver, CO. Her career has led her from horseback riding on a dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains to mountain biking in Bolivia to kayaking in Laos and back again. She considers chocolate a food group and has never met a pair of yoga pants she didn’t like.

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