This review is about the Helly Hansen Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0, advertised as a lightweight, stretch fleece made for an active lifestyle. This versatile piece is recommended as a reliable part of the layering system for a wide range of sports and activities.
Quick specs: Helly Hansen Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0
Price: $80-$85 (but can be found for as little as $40-$50 on a sale)
Weight: 330 g (11.6 oz)
Material: 92% Polyester, 8% elastane
Where to get it: Amazon
- Lightweight low friction construction with slick face stretch tricot and soft smooth brushed fleece interior for maximum skin comfort
- Flatlock stitching for minimal bulk, reduced friction, and chafing
- 1/2 Zip construction with zipper garage for extra comfort; the half-length zipper allows for customized ventilation and warmth on the go: unzip it when extra ventilation is needed to allow cool air to circulate or pull the zip to the top when more warmth is needed
- Versatile: perfect for an active lifestyle and can be used in a range of temperatures, environments, and activities (suitable for everyday wear around the house too)
- High-quality lightweight garment made from smooth, soft, stretchy, and breathable fleece fabric that promotes full, unrestricted range of motion; it also has excellent moisture-wicking and quick-drying abilities
- The straight and comfortable cut looks good, fits well, and feels extremely comfortable; excellent sleeve length and what’s more the arms are roomy enough to facilitate easy layering
- Great to wear underneath as a middle layer (in cool-to-cold conditions) as it traps warmth within to keep the user warm and comfortable; can also be used as a base layer (in warmer conditions)
- Not the most abrasion-resistant fabric
- Great warmth-to-weight ratio but as the fabric is very light and thin, the Phantom 2.0 isn’t as warm as other good mid-layer options; if looking for a thick pullover that’ll keep you warm all the time, look somewhere else
- It does not isolate very well in windy weather unless used together with a couple of other layers
Women’s version: Available -> Amazon
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When we saw the Helly Hansen Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0 for the very first time, we thought that it looks like a good mid-layer that’s probably not very versatile because of the sporty look and the specific grenadine color – a mixture between orange and red. Several months later, we have to admit that our first impression of the Phantom 2.0 was far from perfectly correct. It is true that the fleece is a great mid-layer, however, it’s also true that it is a versatile piece that you can keep on all day in a variety of different high-output activities and situations.
During the last seven months, the Phantom 2.0 has been tested in certain situations such as:
- Changing temperatures – from 10°C to 32°C (approximately 50-90°F)
- Changing environments including hiking through two different mountain ranges (nothing extreme – elevation from 570 to 1300 m a.s.l.)
- Mixed terrain ranging from an even and not-so-rugged terrain to rough and steep mountainous terrain
- Bushwhacking – walking through thick forest with a very dense and lush vegetation
The combination of casual look and feel, thin, breathable, and stretchy fabric and great functionality make the Helly Hansen Phantom 2.0 a lightweight and very comfortable top suitable for all kinds of indoor and outdoor activities.
Material, construction, and durability
The fabric is a nice blend of polyester (92%) and elastane (8%). Actually, this combination in the same or similar proportions is very popular among technical tops designed for a balance of warmth, stretch, breathability, and protection.
The exterior is wrinkle-resistant, made from a sleek and stretchy tricot fabric. Polyester-spandex tricot is a good choice for activewear because it’s soft and sturdy. Moreover, it allows for excellent breathability and provides comfort without cling. The brushed fleece interior is soft, stretchy, breathable, and (relatively) warm.
The construction is well-made and the material holds up well under most conditions as tricot does not snag or run easily. However, the face fabric doesn’t seem to be very abrasion-resistant. It suffered some minor damage during bushwhacking, hence our recommendation to avoid encounters with prickly vegetation. We’ve also found that the Phantom 2.0 generates some static electricity probably due to the fleece fabric.
With a weight of only 330 g (11.6 oz), the Helly Hansen Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0 is a lightweight layer for an active lifestyle. The fabric is a lightweight polyester-spandex blend and the construction has a streamlined design without unnecessary features. All these explain why the garment has such a low weight and packs so well.
Fit & Comfort
The size pictured here is 2XL (biggest available). The height and weight of the person wearing it are 186 (6’1″) and 95 kg (210 lbs) respectively. As mentioned above, the color shown on the images in this article is ‘Grenadine’. It’s a mixture of red and orange and looks very good combined with black or green pants (as seen in the pictures). It’s very handy wearing a top in such a bright color on the trail as it’ll make sure that you’re clearly visible from afar – essential in the backcountry, especially during the hunting season. Note that the color is very beautiful but you might feel a little strange wearing it in town. It’s beyond any doubt that you’ll stand out from the crowd and will never stay unnoticed.
The Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0 seems true to size. If wanting to use it as both a middle layer and a base layer, we recommend that you order a size up (as in our case) so that you could wear it comfortably even over a solid base layer. The cut follows the shape of the body allowing a full range of motion. Both the sleeves and the torso are of great length. This together with the stretchy fabric helps a lot with getting a perfect fit and facilitates layering.
Whether worn above a base layer or worn as a single layer, it feels light and sits comfortably against the skin. Here’s our explanation why it is this way:
- The stretchy microfleece interior is lightweight, soft, and cozy.
- The flatlock stitching reduces friction and chafing, which works like a charm in most conditions. The only time when we actually felt the touch of the inside sleeve stitching was when wearing the Phantom as a base layer.
- There are three labels inside that could potentially cause friction. They don’t but if you feel discomfort, you can always remove them.
Warmth and layering
Made for activities that require dynamic movement (skiing, mountaineering, hiking), the Phantom 2.0 is designed to keep the user dry and comfortable on and off the trail.
So it provides light warmth without risking overheating, i.e. it’ll keep the wearer decently warm as long as he/she tries to stay active. In high winds and low temperatures, you’ll need other garments and layers as the layer won’t cut the wind and cold.
It’s funny that even in temperatures around 25-30°C (77-85°F), the Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0 does not make the wearer feel too hot when walking through forests or mountains where an abundance of shade is available. We’ve also tested it for several hours on a sunny summer day (even during the heat of the day) where no shade was available. Unsurprisingly, it was too hot. Our experience shows that this pullover works much better in variable temps.
This wonderful light layering piece does a fantastic job in changing temperatures as a middle layer. It fits comfortably over another layer and under a light shell.
The cuff design is typical for mid-layers made for aerobic activities – neither too tight (to improve airflow and comfort) nor too loose (to avoid difficulties and discomfort when layering). It seems that the improved heat-regulating performance works nicely for layering especially in high-intensity scenarios as it keeps the wearer dry and warm (or cool) as needed.
Breathability and ventilation
One of the best things around this layer is its excellent air permeability. A super breathable piece, the Phantom 2.0 is made from an airy fabric that breathes well with high output. The 1/2 front zipper is a bit longer than most tops to allow for some extra ventilation when needed.
To sum up, the straight, non-restrictive cut, the light, thin, and airy fabric, and the zipper make this a well-ventilated layer suitable for both cooler and warmer weather.
Moisture management and drying speed
We haven’t seen a single base or mid-layer made by Helly Hansen that hasn’t excellent moisture-wicking and quick-drying abilities. The Phantom 2.0 is no exception. It wicks moisture from the body and makes sure to transfer it to the outer surface of the garment so that it could evaporate from there. Even when damp after some intense work, the fabric doesn’t feel clammy. The explanation is very simple – since high-quality fleece fabric is a good alternative to wool, it works in a similar way. That’s why it remains warm even when wet.
The drying speed is relatively fast because the fabric repels water and does not retain or absorb too much of it. Additionally, the lightweight design boosts the drying speed further. Anyway, don’t expect it to dry as fast as a lightweight base layer does.
This part is easy – it’s essential to read the care labels and follow the instructions of the manufacturer to avoid improper care and maintenance (and potential damages). This is especially important when more frequent use and high-intensity activities are involved. Improper care in such a case could mean a significant reduction of the expected lifetime of the Phantom 2.0.
The construction holds up well after a few washings but the fabric starts to pill (nothing serious as it’s barely visible). Our advice is to handwash the garment or wash it on a delicate cycle (the temperature should not exceed 30°C) and then line dry it. Forget about tumble drying, ironing or dry cleaning. The application of heat and pressure could damage the fabric. Keep in mind that the construction is wrinkle-resistant and doesn’t need any special care to retain its shape as it’s never really wrinkled.
The usual price is $80-$85, which is around the average price of quality middle layers for high-intensity outdoor pursuits (and much less than models such as the Arc’teryx Delta LT Zip Neck, for example). However, this pullover offers well-above the average comfort, functionality, and versatility. Moreover, if you’re lucky, the Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0 can be found for as little as $40-$50 during sales. We consider buying it for $50 or less a real bargain because you’ll get a good combination of quality construction, practical design, and comfort at an affordable price.
The Helly Hansen Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0 is a versatile half-zip top that’s lightweight, breathable, soft, and super comfortable. What’s more, it performs well in a wide variety of temps, conditions, environments, sports, and activities. Perfect as a mid-layer or as a single layer, this garment not only provides effective warmth with little weight to keep the wearer dry and comfortable during cool-to-cold weather pursuits but also provides sufficient ventilation for warm weather adventures.
As to our final verdict: the Helly Hansen Phantom 1/2 Zip 2.0 is no doubt a nice piece of clothing and a perfect light layer with a clean look and outstanding stretch. It excels at high-input activities so if you need to put in a good performance, the Phantom 2.0 is exactly what you’re looking for.
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