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Cotopaxi Liso Top Review

One of our favorite super stretchy, soft, and warm synthetic base layers for cool to cold conditions
cotopaxi liso top base layer review
Credit: Cotopaxi
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $65 List
Pros:  Soft and stretchy fabric gives freedom of movement, great value, thumb loops
Cons:  Not as warm as wool layers of the same weight, risk of smelling if left unwashed after use
Manufacturer:   Cotopaxi
By Justin Simoni ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 12, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 18
  • Warmth - 25% 6.0
  • Breathability - 20% 7.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 9.0
  • Durability - 15% 8.0
  • Drying Speed - 10% 9.0
  • Layering Ability - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Cotopaxi Liso Top is a durable, synthetic top made to help you keep warm and dry in all but the coldest of conditions. The soft and stretchy polyester/spandex blend makes the fabric sensationally comfortable to wear while still being breathable and durable. We especially love the loose fit and extra long torso and sleeves, as well as thumb loops to help keep those sleeves in place. All this adds up to a base layer that allows total freedom of movement without getting all bunched up underneath our mid and outer layers. While synthetics are more prone to getting stinky than wool, this layer is still one we love to have on hand, especially for the more-than-fair price.

Compare to Similar Products

 
cotopaxi liso top base layer review
This Product
Cotopaxi Liso Top
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award    
Price $65 List$60 List
$59.99 at Amazon
$55 List$35.95 at Amazon$40 List
$39.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Soft and stretchy fabric gives freedom of movement, great value, thumb loopsAffordable, very warm, fashionable fit, breathableUltralight, airy and breathable, affordable, 100% recycled polyesterExtremely breathable, lightweight, dries fast, super affordableInexpensive, breathable, functional
Cons Not as warm as wool layers of the same weight, risk of smelling if left unwashed after useFiner thread Merino is not quite as durable, slightly itchy, shoulder top seamsNot a warm layer by itself, loose-fitting cuffs can get caught up when layeringPoor fit, not very warm, not super durable, stinkyLack of durability, longer dry times
Bottom Line One of our favorite super stretchy, soft, and warm synthetic base layers for cool to cold conditionsThis top delivers the fine qualities of a Merino wool base layer without the extreme costA high-value piece whose breathability and airy fit means that it can be worn for high-output activity regardless of the season, but not your go-to layer for mid-winter warmthThis top is an impressively breathable and lightweight base layer built for activities where you are creating a lot of heatA simple, functional base layer with performance issues consistent with the price point
Rating Categories Cotopaxi Liso Top Meriwool Merino 250... Patagonia Capilene... Helly Hansen Lifa S... REI Co-op Lightweig...
Warmth (25%)
6.0
9.0
4.0
5.0
5.0
Breathability (20%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (15%)
8.0
5.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Drying Speed (10%)
9.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
Layering Ability (10%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Cotopaxi Liso Top Meriwool Merino 250... Patagonia Capilene... Helly Hansen Lifa S... REI Co-op Lightweig...
Material 84% recycled polyester, 16% spandex 100% Merino wool 2.3 oz 100% recycled polyester double knit 100% Lifa Dry 92% polyester, 8% spandex
Fabric Weight 200 g/m² 250g/m² 94 g/m² 125 g/m² 200 g/m²
Weight (size large) 8.5 oz 10.1 oz 3.8 oz (size medium) 5.2 oz 7.1 oz
Available Cuts Crew Crew Crew, short sleeve Crew Crew, short-sleeve, 1/2 zip
Thumb Loops? Yes No No No No
Air Dry Test 40 min 40 min 30 min 45 min 45 min
Fit Semi-fitted Slim fit Slim fit Slim fit Semi-fitted
Stitching Flatlock seams Flatlock and flat seams Flatlock seams Flatlock seams Flatlock seams
Dryer Safe? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Shoulder Top Seams? No Yes Yes Yes No
Drop Tail Hem? No No Yes No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

This impressive synthetic base layer is warm, comfortable, and beyond stretchy. We were delightfully surprised at how well it performed across the board in our tests, beating out many of its competitors. Warmer base layers exist, but nothing comes close to the features found in the Liso Top at its unbeatable price.

Performance Comparison


cotopaxi liso top base layer review - the durability of the synthetic cotopaxi liso is second to none and...
The durability of the synthetic Cotopaxi Liso is second to none and runs circles around anything made of wool.
Credit: Justin Simoni

Warmth


We'd place the Liso Top between a light and midweight base layer in terms of warmth. In general, synthetic base layers are not as warm as wool/wool blend base layers of comparable weight. The Liso is roughly the same warmth as a 150 g/sm (thin!) wool blend top. Warmth retention is enhanced by the long torso, which you can easily tuck in, and the long sleeves that sprout thumb loops at the wrists. These thumb loops help the sleeves to stay in place and also prevent drafts between your outer layer and your gloves/mittens.


Knowing the warmth of a base layer can help you pick out what activities best fit its use. The Liso would excel as a summer backpacking base layer for chillier environments like going over a mountain range in Colorado, hugging the coast of the Pacific Northwest, or going on a Fall night run. For colder winter activities like ski touring or mountaineering, you may want to opt for a warmer base layer, as you'd still be chilly wearing this top alone in most circumstances.

cotopaxi liso top base layer review - this is one the lightest weight thermal layers we've tested and is...
This is one the lightest weight thermal layers we've tested and is perfect for cooler weather and high output activities.
Credit: Justin Simoni

Breathability


The Liso Top performed admirably in our breathability test results, especially for a thermal synthetic base layer. We tested other synthetics that performed better, but they're not necessarily made to keep you warm, just comfortable. Polyester, which the Liso is comprised of, is naturally hydrophobic, much like wool. Perspiration will wick away from the surface of your skin and be transferred to the exterior of the fabric, rather than soaking in. A soaked base layer would leave you feeling cold and clammy.


Unlike wool, polyester can start to stink if left wet due to the bacteria that grows on the material. The fabric of the Liso is treated with an anti-microbial called Polygiene, which should keep the stink at bay, even after multiple wears between washes. In our sniff test after leaving this top in our pack post-backpacking trip, there was a noticeable smell of dirty laundry, but nothing that we would call offensive, leaving us pleased enough. Thankfully, this layer's durability allows it to be washed far more often than we recommend for a wool top, making it a good choice for all-day adventures, where you're coming home to reset, like an all-day backcountry ski mission.

cotopaxi liso top base layer review - the cotopaxi liso makes a good base layer for cool to cold...
The Cotopaxi Liso makes a good base layer for cool to cold conditions for high output activities like running, where excellent breathability is championed over supreme warmth.
Credit: Justin Simoni

Comfort and Fit


The super-stretchiness of the soft, synthetic fabric will be the first thing you're going to notice about the Liso. We absolutely love it ourselves as we find it adds immensely to the comfort of this top when worn alone or underneath our mid and outer layers. The stretch alone helps minimize pinch points, constrictions, or bunching and grants your body ultimate freedom of movement while focusing on more important things, like enjoying the scenery on your ski tour.


The Liso Top is cut looser than many of the light and midweight layers we've tested and should accommodate a healthy spectrum of body types. If you have wide shoulders like our main tester: rejoice with us. Long, raglan sleeves end at very functional thumb loops that help keep these sleeves in place. Minimal, flatlock seams are found throughout this top, and gratuitous stitching is kept to a minimum to save on weight and potential chafing hot spots. We're thankful for the lack of top shoulder seams and the generous cut in the pit area. There's no drop tail hem, but the more than generous torso length and stretch of the fabric allow the base layer to function well without one. The neck is not too loose nor tight and rides comfortably right where it should.

cotopaxi liso top base layer review - the stretchiness of the cotopaxi liso's fabric equates to total...
The stretchiness of the Cotopaxi Liso's fabric equates to total freedom of movement, even when stacked underneath multiple mid and outer layers.
Credit: Justin Simoni


Durability


Our harsh abrasion test is designed to quell even the toughest of materials, but the 84% recycled polyester and 16% spandex of the Liso put up an admirable fight. We found one small hole developed where the same test left gaping holes in our thickest woolies. We wouldn't hesitate suggesting wearing this top alone in all but the most abrasive of conditions.


Synthetics like the Liso usually score higher in durability, as wool is just a more delicate material — which is a great reason to choose a synthetic top over wool. That said, proper care should still be practiced. Even though the Liso Top is marked as being dryer safe, because of the high percentage of spandex, we would suggest hanging it to dry like you would a natural fiber top rather than drying it on high heat.

cotopaxi liso top base layer review - our harsh abrasion test barely put a mark in the tough synthetic...
Our harsh abrasion test barely put a mark in the tough synthetic fabric.
Credit: Justin Simoni

Drying Speed


The Liso topped our clothesline drying speed lab test thanks to its thin, synthetic fabric, which seemed happy to give up its moisture readily to evaporation. In general, synthetics dry more quickly than wool/wool blends. In the field, you can also ring out a synthetic much more aggressively than you would a wool/wool blend top without worrying about damaging the fabric. This allows you to start your hang dry with much less moisture.


We tested this in the field on a backpacking trip by washing the shirt in a creek, aggressively ringing it out, then hanging it to dry off our pack. It was dry to the touch within an hour's lunch break, which we think is a good, realistic time for a top to dry and pack back up. A synthetic shirt, like the Liso Top, won't retain as much warmth when wet when compared to wool, so the performant dry time this top is showing us in the real world is reasonable to stop you from getting chilled unexpectedly waiting for your top to dry.

cotopaxi liso top base layer review - once hand-washed in a creek, rung, and hung off our pack, the...
Once hand-washed in a creek, rung, and hung off our pack, the Cotopaxi Liso dried fast enough to be ready to be worn once in town for pizza and ice cream.
Credit: Justin Simoni

Layering Ability


Our experience with layering up the Liso left us highly satisfied. The soft, brushed interior of the fabric feels good against the skin, whether we're wearing the top alone or with other layers piled on. The smoother exterior of the fabric slides under or over other layers easily, resisting hooking onto wool or fleece. The fabric's stretchiness helps minimize any pinch points that can develop when you're really layering up.


Of special note, the thumb loops on the Liso Top sports really do enhance this base layer, helping keep the extra long, extra stretchy sleeves in place. This also helps keep wrists from cold exposure when changing gloves. On a particularly cold day camping, we wore every layer we had in our sleeping bag, with the Liso as the next-to-skin layer, and couldn't have been more pleased with how comfortable we were. We chalk this up to the stretchiness of the fabric, which allows complete freedom of movement.

cotopaxi liso top base layer review - extra long sleeves with thumbs loops generously cover over the...
Extra long sleeves with thumbs loops generously cover over the knuckles of the hand in the Liso Top and help prevent drafts between your top layer and gloves.
Credit: Justin Simoni

Should You Buy the Cotopaxi Liso Top?


If you're looking for a soft, stretchy, light to midweight synthetic base layer with good durability, then we resoundingly say, Yes!. If our glowing review doesn't persuade you, check out the MSRP and compare it to other base layers in our review to see how much value is packed into this top for the price. The only big weakness to the Liso Top is its imperfect suitability when worn in very cold situations. For that, look for a thicker and warmer base layer.

cotopaxi liso top base layer review - the cotopaxi liso's super stretchy synthetic fabric gives you...
The Cotopaxi Liso's super stretchy synthetic fabric gives you absolute freedom of movement underneath all your top layers.
Credit: Justin Simoni

What Other Base Layers Should You Consider?


The Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Half Zip Hoody is a great lightweight Merino wool blend baselayer with thumb loops. It has a more slim, athletic fit and isn't as stretchy as the Liso Top, but its Nuyarn fabric is stretchier than most woolies. For a warmer and much thicker synthetic top — almost a midlayer — try out the Under Armour ColdGear Base 4.0 Crew. And for an even thinner non-thermal base layer, look into the Outdoor Research Echo Long Sleeve or the REI Co-op Lightweight Crew, both of which are great tops for warmer conditions made with thin fabrics and good stretch.

Justin Simoni
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