Editors' Choice 2011 Gold Award: Icebreaker Hopper T

Buy now, wear forever.

We know what you’re thinking: Can a T-shirt really be worth $75? Look at it this way, says our editor-in-chief. “The Hopper T will be the last trail shirt you’ll ever need.” Amortize the cost over years’ worth of adventuring, and even accountants will love the value equation. We’ve been using this shirt for five years, and have yet to find a major gripe. The fit is relaxed but not baggy, and the midweight merino wool (18.9 microns, 200 grams per square meter) is supersoft.

It’s also thin enough to wear on summer dayhikes and perfect as a moisture-managing baselayer in winter. The low-profile shoulder seams are placed to avoid pack straps, and high-wear areas (shoulders, small of back) have not pilled after hundreds of days. The Hopper T won’t dry as fast as synthetics in some conditions, but its natural warm-when-wet performance means you can wear it dry without getting cold—and mostly it only takes about five minutes. Plus, you get wool’s legendary funk resistance. “It erased big-trip stink better than deodorant,” says one editor.

The drawback: If you sweat through the shirt, it can take on an eau de sheep and doesn’t smell right until it’s dry. And one tester says even this fine merino itches his wool-sensitive skin. (Women’s version is the slightly thinner Tech Lite T: $60; XS-XL). $75; 6.3 oz. (M); S-XXL; icebreaker.com