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21986FOR EDIT: Zyflex Thermals FR--Will

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  • Will Rietveld
    Jul 28, 2006
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      Hi. Here's my Zyflex Thermals FR for editing. Thanks in advance. The html version is in the test folder at: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/Xyflex%20Thermals%20FR--Will/


      Date: July 27, 2006

      Name: Will Rietveld
      Age: 63
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6 ft (183 cm)
      Weight: 170 lb (77 kg)
      Measurements: Chest 41 in (104 cm), sleeve length 34 in (86 cm), waist 34 in (86 cm), inseam 32 in (81 cm)
      Email: (willi_wabbit at bresnan dot net)
      City & State: Durango, CO 81301
      Location for Testing: Southwestern US (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico).

      Backpacking Experience-I have been an avid backpacker for 48 years. Backpacking is my passion. In the fall, winter, and spring I backpack in UT, AZ, and NM. In the summer I backpack in several wilderness areas in the southern Colorado Mountains.

      Backpacking Style-I have been a lightweight backpacker for many years and an ultralight backpacker for 7 years. My wife and I give presentations on ultralight backpacking in the local area, and have developed a website called Southwest Ultralight Backpacking (http://home.bresnan.net/~swultralight/) to share information.

      Manufacturer: Zyflex
      Manufacturer Website: http://www.Zyflex.com/
      Products Tested: Thermal Shirt and Thermal Pants
      Year of Manufacture: 2006
      Color: Gray
      Sizes Available: Shirt is available in unisex youth S, M, L; and unisex adult S, M, L, XL, XXL. Pants are available in men's and women's S, M, L, XL, and men's XXL
      Size Tested: Shirt is XL, pants are men's L
      Weight: Listed weights are 7 oz (198 g) for the shirt and 6.6 oz (187 g) for the pants; measured weights for the sizes tested are 8.9 oz (252 g) for the shirt and 6.9 oz (196 g) for the pants
      MSRP: Shirt is $34.99 US, pants is $29.99 US

      From the manufacturer's website:

      "The Zyflex® Thermal Shirt provides superior warmth for its weight and is perfect for any winter activity. Comprised of our patented, breathable, water-resistant material, this shirt is a must for any outdoor adventure in adverse conditions. The shirt is constructed with raglan sleeves, an extended back, and external tags for optimal comfort and performance."

      "The Zyflex® Thermal Pants are designed to provide maximum insulation during the winter months. Comprised of our patented breathable fabric, the Zyflex pants will allow you to wear fewer layers and still be plenty warm in the harshest conditions. Designed with a soft elastic waistband and thin cuffs at the ankle."

      TEST PERIOD-Late May 2006 to late September 2006.

      TEST LOCATION-Southern Colorado Mountains.

      TESTING CONDITIONS-The testing environments were forests and high elevation alpine country. Expected extreme conditions include: snow showers, strong winds, rain storms, heavy rain, intense sun, low temperatures, and high elevations with strong UV and intense thunderstorms. Terrains are forest trails, off-trail bushwhacking, scrambling, and walking in rain and snow. Elevations ranged from 6,000 to 13,500 ft (1829 to 4115 m) and expected nighttime temperatures ranged from 28 to 55 F (-2 to 13 C).

      HOW THE ZYFLEX THERMALS WERE USED-The Zyflex Thermals were used for mountain backpacking, where they were worn on the trail, in camp, and in my sleeping bag - situations where extra warmth was needed.

      MEASUREMENTS AND DATA-On each trip I recorded the following data in relation to my comfort in the Zyflex Thermals: 1) temperature, 2) estimated wind speed, 3) estimated humidity, 4) altitude, 5) precipitation (including what form), 6) clothing or sleeping system the Zyflex Thermals were used with 7) clothing worn over the base layers, and 8) how well they performed in terms of warmth, utility, and comfort.

      Following are the specific factors on which I evaluated the Zyflex Thermals. In this Field Report, I have supplied information based on two months of use. I will update the information in my Long Term Report.

      1) FABRIC-Except for stating that the fabric is 59% Polyethylene, 35% Nylon, and 6% Lycra®, Zyflex does not give a detailed fabric description. It has a lot of horizontal stretch, but very little vertical stretch. The fabric is woven in a fine grid pattern (see photo). It is claimed to be warm, comfortable, highly breathable, and water-resistant.

      2) CONSTRUCTION, QUALITY, AND FIT-The fabric and sewing quality are very good; I could not find any flaws in either the fabric or sewing. The seams are serged rather than flat-felled, except the collar. The design very good - the sleeves are Raglan style to provide greater freedom of movement, the neck opening is right-sized, and the body is well-proportioned, amply long, and has a dropped tail.

      Both the shirt (size XL) and pants (size L) fit me very well. I normally wear a size large shirt, but I needed a Zyflex XL (according to their size chart) to get the correct fit, which turned out to be correct. The shirt fits slightly relaxed on me, and is roomy enough to use it as a second layer. The sleeves are a little short, and (for me) it would be nice if they were an inch longer. Articulation is good; when I cross my arms the sleeves don't move, and I can feel the fabric stretching across my back. However, when I extend my arms above my head the sleeves retract about one inch (2.5 cm) because the fabric has very little vertical stretch. The pants fit like tights and stretch to fit my legs without feeling too tight. When I squat or raise my legs the pants stretch with me and don't inch up or down.

      3) PERFORMANCE AS A BASE LAYER-When mountain hiking, my normal routine when I stop for the day is to put on long johns to avoid chilling. I put my hiking clothes back on over the base layer. Worn against my skin, the Zyflex Thermals were comfortable, but not as soft as microfleece. The same was true for warmth; they were somewhat warm, but not as warm as microfleece (which weighs a little less). On one late May trip, I had evening temperatures in the high 30's F (2-4 C) and a morning low of 28 F (-2 C), and the Zyflex Thermals were noticeably NOT warm. On numerous other trips I wore the Zyflex Thermals in 40-50 F (4-10 C) temperatures in camp and found them to be marginally warm enough.

      When I hiked in shorts, I put the shorts on over the Zyflex bottom to wear in camp. That combination added a little warmth and the shorts protected the Zyflex bottom when I sat on rocks. The combination was sufficiently warm when temperatures were above about 45 F (7 C).

      4) PERFORMANCE IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER PERFORMANCE CLOTHING-I wore the Zyflex Thermal top as a single layer hiking shirt and as a second layer. It performed quite well in both situations. The Zyflex fabric is very stretchy, breathes well, disperses moisture well, and is fairly durable. I found it to be quite comfortable while hiking at moderate exertion. In my opinion, the Zyflex Thermal top performs better as a hiking shirt, or layering piece, for hiking in cool weather than it performs as an insulating base layer.

      The same may be true for the Zyflex Thermal bottom, but it has not been cold enough to hike or bike in it to find out. The bottom fits like tights, so it could be an appropriate hiking or biking pant for cold weather. For that purpose, black would probably be a better color for appearance purposes. The gray color of the Zyflex Thermals tested looks a little too much like underwear!

      One reason why the Zyflex Thermals were only somewhat warm as an insulating base layer may be that their breathability allowed them to lose heat too readily. I found the Zyflex Thermals to be distinctly warmer when I wore other clothing over them to help seal the heat in, but that would also be the case with microfleece or wool base layers. They were distinctly warmer when I wore my hiking pants and shirt, plus windwear or rainwear over them in camp.

      5) PERFORMANCE IN A SLEEPING SYSTEM-I routinely wore the Zyflex Thermals in my sleeping bag to keep my sleeping bag clean and to extend its warmth. In my 32 F (0 C) rated sleeping bag, the Zyflex Thermals were comfortable and warm when the nighttime temperature was in the 38-55 F range (3-13 C), but my legs were distinctly chilly at colder temperatures. On one night when the temperature dropped to 28 F (-2 C), my legs were cold in the Zyflex Thermal bottom, so I replaced them with a microfleece bottom (that I had brought along for comparison), and found that the microfleece bottom kept my legs warm for the rest of the night.

      6) WARMTH-The Zyflex fabric itself has little loft. Product information on the Zyflex website disputes the need for loft in order to provide warmth. I could debate their claims in this report, but the bottom line from my testing so far is that the Zyflex Thermals are not very warm for static activities, like wearing them as an insulating base layer in camp. On the other hand, I have found the Zyflex Thermals to be more comfortable and useful for moderate exertion activities on the trail. At low to moderate exertion levels in cool or cold weather, the Zyflex Thermals performed similar to a medium polyester or wool layer. That is, they maintained a comfortable temperature while dispersing excess heat and moisture.

      7) ODOR MANAGEMENT-I have not detected any odor problems from extended wear while wearing them every evening and night on a six day trip.

      8) DURABILITY-The Zyflex fabric seems to be quite durable so far. I wore the top as a hiking shirt on several occasions and there are no snags in it. Also, the fabric does not seem to pill.

      9) VERSATILITY-So far, the Zyflex Thermals seem to perform best (in terms of comfort) for low to moderate exertion activities, like hiking, snowshoeing, or biking in cool or cold weather. They are not particularly warm for their weight in static activities as an insulating base layer.

      10) SUITABILITY FOR LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING-Compared to microfleece or wool base layers, the Zyflex Thermals are fairly heavy for the warmth they provide.

      I wore the Zyflex Thermal top and bottom as a base insulating layer and the top as a outer layer on numerous mountain backpacking trips in cool and cold weather. So far, I have found that the Zyflex Thermals are not particularly warm when worn in static conditions as a base insulating layer. Thin and medium weight microfleece base layers are warmer and lighter. However, I am discovering that the Zyflex Thermals seem to perform well as an outer layer at low to moderate exertion levels on the trail, and seem to be quite durable for that purpose.

      I would like to thank Zyflex and the BackpackGearTest Group for selecting me to participate in this test.

      Will Rietveld

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